KET Milestones

For a narrative history of KET ...

Origins: O. Leonard Press and the Creation of KET
Renewed Vision: Virginia G. Fox
Expansion and the Digital Transition: Malcolm Wall
The Next Generation: Executive Director Shae Hopkins


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 nationally.


1971

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

Masterpiece Theatre debuts.


1973

KET broadcasts 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 the NewsHour) premieres.


1978

The 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 is created to market educational programs nationally.


1984

KET begins a nightly open-captioned news service.


1985

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

Kentucky Afield moves to KET.

KET Kids Club established.


1988

First Summer Celebration event to support programs and services held at Donamire Farm.


1989

An interactive Distance Learning service from KET begins with Probability & Statistics.

KET begins offering live professional development seminars for educators.


1990

Ken Burns’ The Civil War shatters public TV audience records.

KET Fund for Independent Production established.

KET premieres the John Sherman Cooper documentary Gentleman from Kentucky at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.


1991

KET founding Executive Director O. Leonard Press retires; Virginia Gaines Fox succeeds him.

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


1992

67,000-square-foot addition to KET Telecommunications Center is dedicated.


1993

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


1994

Kentucky Tonight premieres.


1995

Kentucky Life premieres.

KET establishes a Web site.

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

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


1996

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

KET develops LiteracyLink, a video and online project featuring GED® and workforce basic skills content.


1997

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

The award for Best Public Television Program from the National Educational Telecommunications Association goes to KET’s Signature “George C. Wolfe.”


1998

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

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.

KET’s 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 videostreaming 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.

KET1 and KET2 begin broadcasting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

GED Connection is completed to correspond with revised national testing.

The KET-produced series Jubilee, featuring performances from Kentucky bluegrass and blues festivals, premieres nationally.

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

High-definition programming is delivered statewide through KET HD.


2003

Malcolm Wall is named KET’s third executive director.

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


2004

KET adds digital broadcast coverage of the Kentucky legislature, which is also available via online videostreaming.

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.

KET DataCast is launched as Kentucky’s first and only statewide, all-digital datacasting system.


2005

KET EncycloMedia, an Internet-based multimedia educational service, is launched and offered free to Kentucky K-12 public schools.

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


2006

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

KET launches online podcasting service.

Louisville Life, a weekly series designed to showcase the Louisville community, premieres.


2007

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

The National Educational Telecommunications Association names KET’s Visual Arts Toolkit the Best Instructional Media in public television.

The KET production The Everlasting Stream broadcasts nationally on PBS.

KET’s documentary Where the River Bends provides the first in-depth history of Northern Kentucky.

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

KET exceeds its goal for the Endowment for Kentucky Productions, a $2.5 million source of secure funding.

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


2008

KET launches the Kentucky Channel, featuring programs by, for, and about Kentuckians.

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


2009

A milestone in television history is reached as KET unveils a new digital production facility and turns off its analog transmitters.

2010

Shae Hopkins, a 25-year veteran of KET, becomes the fourth executive director and CEO in January.

Professional development resource Literacy Leadership wins best Instructional Programming the National Educational Television Association.

Education Matters debuts and quickly becomes an important source for information on education reform and new initiatives for Kentucky parents, educators, and policy makers.

The KET Special Report documentary Born Too Soon, exploring the devastating effects of preterm birth, premieres.

Thoroughbred premieres and is celebrated at an event at Keeneland. This was the first production funded by the Endowment for Kentucky Productions.

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.

The school year begins with an expanded KET EncycloMedia including two new services, KET Teachers' Domain and KET ED On Demand (ITV streaming service).

KET is recognized by the National Coalition for Literacy with the 2010 NCL Literacy Leadership Award at its national presentation held in Washington, D.C.

Everyday Science for Preschoolers launches, providing training and toolkits for childcare providers of at-risk 3- and 4-year-olds residing in Eastern Kentucky, to inspire future interest in science, technology, engineering and math discovery.


2011

KET receives the prestigious Enterprise and Innovation Award from the National Educational Telecommunications Association, presented to KET's Education Division for strategic and proactive reorganization and our exemplary success in delivering educational services to students, teachers, parents, and care providers throughout the state.

KET's documentary Thoroughbred airs nationally on PBS in early May.

KET receives the APTS 2011 National Advocacy Award in Washington, D.C.

KET EncycloMedia shatters records for utilization, passing the mark of 7 million views (since its inception in 2005).

In July, KET is honored by the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences with two Emmy Awards for Kentucky Muse: Harry Pickens: In the Garden of Music and Louisville Life.