Making a Difference:
The KET Friends Board
If there is something going on or something someone needs to find out about, we are the first ones they contact. They called me ‘Miss KET’ for years in Pikeville, and I wore the title with pride.
Former President, KET Friends Board
“If we didn’t have KET, we wouldn’t have that,” says Carrie Cinnamond, speaking about the many programs and services made possible by KET. “There are all kinds of worthy organizations, but KET does so much in the way of education and cultural development and connecting the state. Just the educational part of it alone is fabulous—the outreach into schools. There are so many times I find myself saying that we wouldn’t have that if we didn’t have KET.”
Cinnamond often has the opportunity to talk about KET as a member of KET’s Friends Board, a statewide organization of volunteers formed in 1971 to support KET. Although board members serve in many ways, being a connection to KET in their communities is one of their most important roles, according to the Eastern Kentucky resident.
“The strongest thing we do is to serve as representatives in our community,” she says. “If there is something going on or something someone needs to find out about, we are the first ones they contact. They called me ‘Miss KET’ for years in Pikeville, and I wore the title with pride.”
Cinnamond was asked to join the board in the 1980s and served as its president in 1992-93. She also served as the president of the National Friends of Public Broadcasting. In that role, she quickly found out that KET’s influence doesn’t end at the state line.
“KET is so well regarded everywhere,” Cinnamond says. “People respect what KET does. Our GED work influenced the whole nation. When someone asks where you are from and you tell them KET, they always go on and on about something that KET did that aided them or influenced them in some way. KET commands so much respect.”
However, like many Friends Board members, Cinnamond admits that when she joined, she didn’t know the depth of activities the group is involved with. Looking back, she recalls numerous projects the board has gotten involved in—everything from arranging support for productions taping in the community to celebrations to fund-raising and outreach projects.
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“The Friends Board is our eyes and ears,” says Tricia Dunn, KET’s volunteer services manager. “They partner with our Outreach Department, promoting services that KET provides. For example, when we aired a program about organ and tissue donation called No Greater Love, they organized events throughout the state, passed out literature, partnered with other organizations and supplied them with printed material about the program, hosted events in their communities, and helped promote the call-in show.
“Friends represent KET at RECC [Rural Electric Cooperative] fairs, help immensely with on-air pledge drives, send letters to the editors of their local newspapers about important issues, and have been invaluable when there have been threats to KET’s federal and state funding. They make a real difference. They have done much more than we could do just by ourselves. They are an amazing group.”
Why would someone want to serve on the Friends Board? We posed that question to current president Will Cox, a partner with Whitfield and Cox, PSC in Madisonville.
“You can’t walk into the Visitors’ Center [at KET headquarters], talk to the staff, and see what goes on without getting excited about helping KET,” Cox says. “The people are the number one asset. Couple that with all the good work KET does, and it’s kind of a no-brainer to want to serve on the board.”