Skip Navigation


10/9 am
on KET

5:30/4:30 pm
on KET2

Phyllis Knight Gifford, TV Personality

The 56th WHAS Crusade for Children will kick off on June 6, 2009, minus a Crusade mainstay and that’s the subject of this Et Cetera.

Phyllis Knight Gifford was the first fulltime executive director of the Crusade, but longtime Louisville TV watchers know she was much more.

Phyllis came to WHAS in 1955 and was a pioneering female broadcaster in the Louisville market.

She excelled on radio and TV, known for an ability to wrangle the big interview—ironically for her show called “Small Talk.”

She became famous for her coverage at the Kentucky Derby — including a tradition of changing her hats several times during the day.

Phyllis was twice honored with the McCall Magazine Golden Mike Award for a series on adoption, and one on cervical cancer, a topic not typically discussed on early TV.

When her talk show was cancelled in 1968 she joined the newsroom at WHAS-TV.

In 1976 she became executive director and producer of the WHAS Crusade for Children.

Under Phyllis’ leadership, the Crusade celebrated several milestones including a 25th anniversary and its first million-dollar year.

Phyllis retired as executive director in 1981 but continued to have a presence in the Crusade for decades after.

She was inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame in 1992. Phyllis Knight Gifford died on October 27, 2008; she was 81.

A special remembrance is planned for her at this year’s Crusade.

Additional footage for this Et Cetera segment was courtesy of WHAS-TV. Some images courtesy Randy, Cactus, Uncle Ed and the Golden Age of Louisville Television by David Inman. You can reach the author through his Web site,

Program 326
Louisville Life prepares for Father's Day, profiles the late Phyllis Knight, visits the Highland Renaissance Festival in Eminence, Ky., and the River City Community Sailing Program. (#326)