Making a Difference:
Keeping Citizens Informed

I hardly ever miss Kentucky Tonight. Most all of it interests me. It could be anything to do with Kentucky; I just feel it’s important to know what’s going on in our state.

Connie Wilson

KET viewer

Sitting on Connie Wilson’s shady porch, with hummingbirds buzzing nearby, you get the feeling you’ve stepped a few years back in time.

Not too many, though—although her teenaged daughter Ellie sometimes says they’re living an Amish lifestyle. For the Wilsons, simplicity means scaling back, becoming more grounded—and consciously choosing to stay informed through the public affairs programming offered by KET.

“If people were more informed, if they had more information, maybe they would take elections more seriously,” said Wilson, who grew up in and still lives in the tiny community of Fonthill just outside Russell Springs.

A regular viewer of Kentucky Tonight, KET’s Monday-night discussion program hosted by Bill Goodman, Wilson finds that no matter what the topic, she can become engaged in the sometimes lively debate.

“I hardly ever miss Kentucky Tonight,” she said. “Most all of it interests me. It could be anything to do with Kentucky; I just feel it’s important to know what’s going on in our state.“

Just as important, too, she says, are PBS programs such as The McLaughlin Group and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, which keep viewers apprised of current events on a national level. “It’s just as important nationally as Kentucky Tonight is to the state,” she notes.

These programs are just a few of the wide array of public affairs programming KET offers on a regular basis. At the time of the conversation with Wilson, for example, she was looking forward to KET’s Election 2008 slate of forums featuring candidates vying to represent Kentucky in Congress, as well as November’s live election-night broadcast.

“I have watched the debates in the past, and I will watch them again this year,” Wilson said. “They’ve helped me make up my mind who to vote for. And I like it that PBS and KET have presented debates that are not biased. I don’t think any public television is biased—and that’s a good thing.”

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While election programming fills many fall schedules, KET’s regular public affairs programs throughout the year provide thoughtful discourse on topical subjects. Connections with Renee Shaw keeps in touch with minority-focused topics, while One to One with Bill Goodman presents in-depth interviews with notable personalities. KET’s longest running public affairs program, Comment on Kentucky, features journalists’ analysis on timely topics with host Ferrell Wellman.

“The older I get, the more interested I am in learning more about Kentuckians,” Wilson explained. “There are so many interesting people, so many talented people in this state. I really like seeing things about other Kentuckians, such as authors, and learning about what their influences are.”

The voices and opinions of average Kentuckians, she said, are key to the format of Kentucky Tonight, which Wilson herself has taken advantage of as a caller to the program.

“Hearing other people’s comments really brings something to the program,” she said. “Often they’ll say something that you wouldn’t think of. With a call-in, you hear things you wouldn’t normally hear in a scripted program.”

KET’s public affairs programming also provides citizens an insider’s view, Wilson says.

“Recently on Kentucky Tonight they discussed the presidential election with the [state] party leaders,” she said. “Listening to them, you know where the state stands economically and what each party has to say. It’s a difference of opinion.”

With KET as their only television station by choice, Wilson and her daughter stay abreast of current affairs—and find enrichment in other programs and series KET airs.

“If I have other television options, I’ll just sit in front of the TV, and it’s a waste of time—I have other things to do. But there’s always something beneficial on KET.”