Making a Difference:
KET provides such a significant, meaningful role in the state as being the only statewide media resource. It touches every school district in the state through its educational programs.
Commonwealth Fund for KET board member
Education has always been important to Paducah's Bill Jones. His mother instilled in him values that led him to be the first in his family to graduate from college and to follow a career in finance and banking.
Today, this Owensboro native is head of community banking for US Bank in Kentucky and four other states. He has re-examined his appreciation for education—extending it beyond himself to include his young granddaughters and other schoolchildren across the Commonwealth.
"Education is what KET was founded on some 40 years ago, and it has never wavered in its commitment," said Jones, a board member for KET's fund-raising arm, the Commonwealth Fund for KET.
"As you go through the various stages of life, your priorities kind of shift a little bit," he added. "I would say now I'm much more aware of the things that are going to impact the future of my granddaughters. I tend to want to look at the world through their eyes. Are we equipping them with the skills needed to be successful?"
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KET's reach into schools is extensive, and classrooms across the Commonwealth have come to rely upon the education resources provided by KET. From early childhood education, through middle and high-school instructional resources, to GED and workplace-skills instruction for adults, KET has developed materials for every age and stage of life.
"KET provides such a significant, meaningful role in the state as being the only statewide media resource," Jones said. "It touches every school district in the state through its educational programs. Something like 98 percent of schools use KET in some form."
With its unique funding picture, he says, KET is a standout in terms of value.
"The fact that there are 35,000 member families across the Commonwealth that support the funding of KET is very significant to me," he said. "That partnership contributes to the success, and those dollars are being accounted for and judiciously invested into various programming."
Coupled with these private donations, he noted, are the state appropriation and the funding that KET and other public broadcasters receive from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the entity that distributes federal support.
"I very strongly agree that federal funding is necessary for public television," he said.
"It's entirely appropriate to challenge public broadcasting to support the dollars they receive. And from the numbers I've seen, for every dollar of federal funding that is provided, six dollars of value is received."
KET and public broadcasters, he noted, have lived up to this level of support by becoming a trusted source for information in the eyes of the American people.
"Statistics say that PBS is the No. 1 broadcasting channel in terms of public trust. It has the highest rating for news and public affairs programming of any of the network channels. It's important to have that level of respect from your viewers," he said.
"It's the only media entity charged with serving the people, not selling them something."