Blake Farmer | Nashville Public Radio

Blake Farmer

Senior Health Care Reporter

Blake Farmer is Nashville Public Radio's senior health care reporter. In a partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, Blake covers health in Tennessee and the health care industry in the Nashville area for local and national audiences.

Blake has worked at WPLN throughout his career, most recently serving as news director and primary editor for the newsroom. Previously, his reporting focused on education and the military. He's also enjoyed producing stories about midnight frog gigging and churches holding gun raffles. 

Growing up in East Nashville, Blake attended Lipscomb Academy. He went to college in Texas at Abilene Christian University where he cut his teeth in radio at KACU-FM. Before joining WPLN full time in 2007, Blake also wrote for the Nashville City Paper and filed international stories for World Christian Broadcasting.

An active member and past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists Middle Tennessee Chapter, Blake has also won numerous regional and national awards from the Associated Press, RTDNA and PRNDI. In 2017, his alma mater honored him with the Gutenberg Award for achievements of journalism graduates. 

This may say more than anything: he always keeps his audio recorder handy, even on vacation, just in case there's a story to be told.

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Nashville Prep via Instagram

A bug in Metro Schools’ lottery system resulted in a few hundred families getting seats in several different schools instead of just one. But district officials say there was no harm and no need for a re-do.

At a press conference Monday, school officials apologized while also downplaying the glitch that forced the district to take down a website that announced placements for the fall.“It was a programming error in the program itself,” chief operating officer Fred Carr said. “And humans programmed the program, so that’s why we’re doing double quality assurance this time.”

Nina Cardona / WPLN

More than 13,000 families in Nashville are still waiting to hear if they got into the school they wanted for next year. A website announcing results of the school lottery was published Friday and then taken down over the weekend after glitches emerged.

A statement from the district says some students were given seats at multiple schools when they should have been offered just one. It appears this didn’t happen to most applicants, but everyone could be affected. The school system isn’t ruling out running the lottery all over again in order to ensure integrity in the process.


Franklin-based Nissan North America is teaming up with NASA to develop an autonomous vehicle.

In a joint announcement, Nissan and NASA officials say they will have prototypes ready to test by the end of the year. The work will be done at Nissan’s Silicon Valley research center and NASA’s Ames research center in California. The vehicles will be all-electric, driver-less, and able to carry payloads or people.

Nissan aims to have an autonomous vehicle for sale by 2020.

MNPS via Instagram

Decision day comes Friday for 13,300 students in Nashville. That’s how many have applied to attend a school other than the one that’s closer to home – a record figure, by far.

The number is slightly padded from previous years because all eighth graders now have to choose which high school they’ll attend. But still, applications have been growing for the last few years as the district promotes choice and as more and more charter schools open in the city.

Stephen Jerkins

The Tennessee county with the lowest unemployment rate in the state has seen its fortunes change. One of Lincoln County’s largest employers is leaving. Goodman manufacturing is consolidating its operations to Texas.

By 2017, Goodman will be gone, and some 1,700 people will be jobless in Lincoln County, on the Alabama border. The decision also will result in closing a smaller Goodman plant in Dayton, Tenn.

WPLN featured the Lincoln County plant in a story last year about the area’s surprisingly low unemployment rate, which has dipped below 5 percent in the past year. Goodman, which makes air conditioning units, is the major employer in town and has been for decades. Multiple generations work there.

Bill McChesney via Flickr

The Tennessee Highway Patrol has some unanswered questions about a proposed law requiring seat belts on school buses. After two buses collided in Knoxville last month, killing two students and a teacher’s aide, legislators immediately began calling for lap restraints.

There’s a whole debate over whether children are safer strapped to their seats in a bus. Department of Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons says he’s not convinced seat belts would have saved lives or prevented injuries in the Knoxville tragedy.

TN Photo Services

Tennessee teachers are starting 2015 curious to know if it will be a second year without a pay raise. So far, state officials haven’t made any more promises.

WPLN pressed outgoing education commissioner Kevin Huffman when he didn’t even mention teacher salaries in his annual budget presentation.

“All the salary stuff – state employee salary and teacher salary – will be done through the governor’s budget release,” Huffman said.


For the largest automakers in the U.S., 2014 got them back up to pre-recession levels. For Franklin-based Nissan North America, the year set a sales record.

A string of record months resulted in nearly 1.4 million vehicles sold – an all-time high. The Nissan brand drove most of the gains. The company’s luxury line – Infiniti – just barely broke even on the year.

Grand Ole Opry

Since 1948, Little Jimmy Dickens was a mainstay at the Grand Ole Opry, including a show he played Dec. 20 to celebrate his 94th birthday.

The 4-foot-11 singer was known for his sense of humor, even in songs, often cracking jokes about his stature.

“I’m puny, short and little but I’m loud,” he sang in one of his oldest hits.

Other tunes had lines like “may the bird of paradise fly up your nose.” A song called “Take an Old Cold Tater and Wait” won him the nickname “Tater.”

Blake Farmer / WPLN (File photo)

The happy new year was also a happy birthday for hundreds of refugees who now call Nashville home. Many asylum seekers are assigned January 1st when they can’t prove their date of birth.

Hussien Mohamud had more friends than he could possibly handle celebrating birthdays this week. “On my Facebook, 1,056 friends of mine get their birthday on that particular day, so it’s ridiculous,” he says.