Making a Difference:
Public Television

I do think the politicians hear—and listen to—those they represent. Those of us who believe in the worth of KET have got to put ourselves out there to show how much it means to us.

Dan Griffith

Commonwealth Fund for KET

The fact that Dan Griffith loves his hometown is evident to anyone who might be riding in the car beside him as he winds his way through Owensboro's picturesque streets, pointing to homes of noteworthy citizens and the prominent edifices of its museums, galleries, and restaurants.

But when this energetic father, musician, volunteer, and advocate talks about public television, he mentions the things that take him out of his beloved river town and to the wider world beyond Daviess County and the Commonwealth.

"There are two important things with public television to me, and number one is the safety of a child to watch television—and the second is to be exposed to the world, as in KET's motto, 'Explore Kentucky, Explore the World,'" said Griffith, who with his wife, Beverly, a local attorney, is parent of a daughter, Betsy, a freshman at the University of Kentucky. "Owensboro's very blessed by all the cultural offerings that we have—but you know, we're blessed to have KET, because it takes you outside of Owensboro," he added.

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The former executive director of the Owensboro Symphony, Griffith studied political science, voice, and organ performance at Georgetown College, and later secured his master's in public administration from Western Kentucky University.

"I want more of this—more exposure to other parts of the state, to know what's going on in Eastern Kentucky, or further west of here," he said. "And it's an outlet for me; I love politics, and I want to know what's happening in other areas and what people are thinking and communities are doing."

Griffith began his more than 20-year love affair with KET when he worked with the network on a production featuring the Owensboro Symphony's piano competition, the Louisville Orchestra, and the Kentucky Center for the Arts.

Impressed by the quality of the program, he saw the power of the statewide network to bring diverse parts of the state together and wanted to be a part of it. Since that time, he's served on KET's Friends Board, a statewide network of volunteers, with stints as its president; representative to the Kentucky Authority for Educational Television, KET's governing body; and currently, on the board for its private fund-raising arm, the Commonwealth Fund for KET.

"Public television is, bottom line, educational. No matter what you're watching it is educating you in a positive way," he said. "What people watch has an effect on them—it has an effect on their behavior."

Griffith has continued his advocacy on behalf of KET in conjunction with the grassroots organization 170 Million Americans, which was formed on behalf of public broadcasting at the national level to advocate for the continuation of public funding.

"I do think the politicians hear—and listen to—those they represent. Those of us who believe in the worth of KET have got to put ourselves out there to show how much it means to us."

The impact KET—and other public broadcasters like it throughout the country—has on individuals and families like his, Griffith said, can't be overstated.

"KET is truly one of the best investments that our Commonwealth has. It has to be protected, it's very important, from many different directions—whether it's covering political issues, whether it's educating our children or each one of us as adults," he said.

"It's just something that I believe we can't even begin to think about doing without."