KET History

1962
The Kentucky General Assembly forms the Kentucky Authority for Educational Television; O. Leonard Press becomes KET’s first executive director.

1968
KET signs on the air September 23, broadcasting weekdays during school hours.

Kentucky Is My Land, KET’s first ITV production, premieres.

1969
KET begins evening broadcasts.

Sesame Street premieres from PBS.

1971
Friends of KET, a statewide network of volunteers, is incorporated.

PBS premieres Masterpiece Theatre.

1973
KET broadcasts PBS coverage of the Watergate hearings.

1974
Comment on Kentucky premieres with host Al Smith.

1975
The first GED® series produced by KET begins national distribution.

KET expands broadcasting to seven days a week.

1976
Universe & I becomes KET’s first nationally distributed ITV series.

The MacNeil/Lehrer Report (now PBS NewsHour) premieres.

1978
College on TV (telecourses) project starts.

Nightly legislative coverage begins.

1980
This Old House and The Victory Garden premiere.

1981
KET Fund for Excellence established.

1982
KET Enterprise division is created to market educational programs nationally.

1984
Nightly open-captioned, news service begins.

1985
New KET/GED® series and study-at-home project launched statewide.

Kentucky Afield moves from commercial television to KET.

KET Kids Club established.

1988
First Summer Celebration event held to support KET programs and services.

1989
Interactive Distance Learning service begins with Probability & Statistics.

Live professional development seminars for educators begin.

1990
Ken Burns’ The Civil War shatters PBS audience records.

Premiere of the John Sherman Cooper documentary Gentleman from Kentucky at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

1991
O. Leonard Press retires; Virginia Gaines Fox succeeds him as Executive Director and CEO.

Star Channels Distance Learning system receives national Innovations Award from the Ford Foundation.

1992
67,000-square-foot O. Leonard Press Telecommunications Center is dedicated.

1993
GED—Get It! airs nationwide as the centerpiece of a national outreach project.

1994
Kentucky Tonight premieres.

1995
Kentucky Life premieres.

KET.org launches.

The Commonwealth Fund for KET is established, with John R. Hall as chairman.

Lucille Caudill Little makes the first $1 million gift to KET, establishing an arts education endowment.

1996
Mountain Born: The Jean Ritchie Story and Signature “George C. Wolfe” are chosen for national broadcast by PBS.

LiteracyLink, a video and online project featuring GED® and workforce basic skills content is developed.

1997
KET acquires the license of WKPC-15 in Louisville, merges it with the statewide network, and launches KET2.

1998
Street Skills, KET’s teen-oriented safe driving series, is nominated for a national Emmy Award.

KET hosts Antiques Roadshow for a crowd of more than 7,000 at Louisville’s Convention Center.

The KET production Signature “Barbara Kingsolver” airs nationally on PBS.

1999
KET turns on Kentucky’s first digital television transmitter, Louisville WKPC-DT.

KET produces public television’s first drama in high definition: American Shorts “The Ryan Interview,” starring Ashley Judd.

Workplace Essential Skills, a series designed to help adults find and keep jobs, is unveiled at the National Press Club.

KET pilots its first online video-streaming initiative.

2001
Nearly 10,000 Kentuckians read Barbara Kingsolver’s “The Bean Trees” as part of KET’s statewide literacy campaign What If All Kentucky Reads the Same Book?

2002
KET activates statewide digital transmission system.

KET and KET2 begin broadcasting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

GED® Connection, KET’s third-generation test preparation series, premieres nationally on PBS.
Jubilee premieres nationally.

Executive Director and CEO Virginia Gaines Fox retires and becomes  the third person to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

2003
Malcolm Wall is named Executive Director and CEO.

The Drama Arts Toolkit launches, the first in a series of Arts Toolkits.

2004
Digital broadcast and videostreaming of Legislative Coverage begins.

Viewers make Kentucky’s Last Great Places: A Kentucky Life Special the most successful pledge program in KET history.

KET founder O. Leonard Press receives the Silver Circle Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for his contributions to the television industry.

2005
KET EncycloMedia is launched and offered free to Kentucky K-12 public schools.

The KET Health Initiative launches, providing annual documentaries and outreach examining the causes of Kentucky citizen’s poor health and spotlighting solutions in communities statewide.

Connections with Renee Shaw, an interview series that sheds light on issues affecting women and minorities, premieres.

2006
Bill Goodman welcomes Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day as his first guest on the interview series One to One.

Louisville Life, a weekly series showcasing our largest city, premieres.

2007
The producers of Antiques Roadshow once again bring the national production to Louisville.

Veteran journalist Al Smith retires after 33 years as host of Comment on Kentucky.

Generous donors provide $2.5 million to establish the KET Endowment for Kentucky Productions.

KET launches KET ED, a service that continues KET’s mission to bring instructional and professional development programming to Kentucky educators.

2008
KET KY, the Kentucky Channel, launches in order to showcase more programs by, for, and about Kentuckians.

Kentucky Muse premieres as an ongoing series celebrating the world of creativity found within the state.

2009
The O. Leonard Press Telecommunications Center is refitted with all-digital production and broadcast facilities.

Ceasing analog transmissions, KET broadcasts three digital channels, 24/7 on 16 statewide transmitters

2010
Education Matters debuts as an important source providing information on education reform and policy.

The Friends of KET Board of Directors receives the National Friends of Public Broadcasting’s Grassroots Advocacy Award.

The Kentucky Green Banks initiative announces a $1.8 million loan to KET to implement energy efficiency measures in the network center.

Shae Hopkins, a 25-year veteran of KET, becomes the fourth Executive Director and CEO.

Everyday Science for Preschoolers is launched, providing training and toolkits for childcare providers of at-risk 3- and 4-year olds, inspiring future interest in science, technology, engineering and math.

2011
Downton Abbey premieres.

KET’s Education Division receives the prestigious Enterprise and Innovation Award from the National Educational Telecommunications Association, for exemplary success in delivering educational services to students, teachers, parents, and care providers.

Kentucky on iTunes U launches, with KET as a lead partner.

KET premieres Health Three60, a Kentucky-focused health and wellness program.

Thoroughbred airs nationally on PBS.

Shae Hopkins appointed by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to the board of Digital Promise (the National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies).

KET receives the Association of Public Television Stations 2011 National Advocacy Award.

2012
Inspired by Antiques Roadshow, Kentucky Collectibles premieres.

KET’s founder O. Leonard Press receives the Vic Hellard Jr. Award for excellence in public service from the Legislative Research Commission.

2013
KET partners with NASA and EKU for a special live uplink between Kentucky middle school students and an astronaut aboard the International Space Station.

Bill Goodman inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame.

PBS Learning Media debuts, featuring instructional media and video from PBS programs, along with more than a thousand KET-produced resources.

The Everyday Learning Collaborative — a partnership among KET, the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) and Louisville’s Metro United Way — receives more than $1.14 million in grants from the James Graham Brown Foundation and the PNC Foundation.

2014
The KET Legislative Coverage App for iPhone and iPad launches.

Fast Forward launches as KET’s most-advanced multiplatform learning system for adult education, preparing learners and teachers for new GED® and alternative assessments in language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.

KET, PBS, and PBS KIDS online video app launch on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, and Android.

2015
Bill Bryant named host of Comment on Kentucky.

Shae Hopkins receives the Kentucky Society Daughters of the American Revolution 2015 State Media Award.

Doug Flynn named host of Kentucky Life.