Making a Difference:
Friends of KET

KET is the child that Friends both past and present created. KET is blessed to enjoy your continuing affection and attention.

O. Leonard Press

KET founder

When KET founder O. Leonard Press began his memoir detailing the genesis of the statewide educational network in The KET Story: A Personal Account, it's significant that it was ordinary citizens, advocates, and volunteers that were foremost in his mind.

"The first sentence in the account I wrote of the history of KET recognizes that KET had literally thousands of founders," said Press, who led the agency from its inception through 1991.

"These citizens came from all levels of influence, from the schoolhouse to the state house, without whose persuasive and persistent voices KET would still be an egg trying to hatch," he wrote.

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"The Friends of KET are the descendants of those founders."

Even before KET began broadcasting, Press remembers, citizens led the statewide campaign to promote the idea of creating an educational television network for Kentucky.

And they got the job done, using their voices and their influence to convince school administrators, teachers, community leaders, elected officials—and everyone else in sight, says Press—that a statewide educational television network was good and important and needed to be done.

These friends saw to it that KET went on the air, but it wasn't until a snowy day in 1971 when the Friends of KET as an official volunteer organization was born.

Two Lexington women brought a group a children for a tour—and, as they moved through the building, they became aware that volunteers could be enormously helpful to KET. Press and other managers agreed.

Because KET is proudly a statewide network, the Friends quickly expanded to include members from each transmitter region, recruiting a cross-section of Kentucky's civic, cultural, academic, and volunteer communities.

Whatever need KET had, whether financial or in the realm of advocacy, the Friends have always mounted enthusiastic campaigns. They organized teas and other fund-raising projects, and crafted awareness campaigns for such important projects as KET's GED study-at-home project. Fund-raising balloon rides and wildflower walks, staffing booths, answering phones, speaker's bureaus, direct advocacy to legislators in Frankfort—all have been part of the important work of the Friends of KET through the years.

And the Friends' work has not escaped the notice of the nation. Seven times the Friends of KET have received the National Friends of Public Broadcasting's Community Development Award. In 2010, G. Dan Griffith, a former Friends president, received the national Friends' Grassroots Advocacy Award.

"KET is the child that Friends both past and present created," notes Press. "KET is blessed to enjoy your continuing affection and attention."