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Making a Difference: Bringing History to Life

As seventh-generation Kentuckians, with family roots dating back to the time of the Revolutionary War, Ernie and Georgia Green Stamper say it’s no surprise they share a love of history.

A photographic portrait of Ernie and Georgia Green Stamper standing side by side outside in front of trees with many pink blossoms.

This love also serves as a touchstone for their chief interests these days: Georgia as a magazine columnist and writer, with several books of essays about Kentucky’s past and present to her credit, and Ernie as a hobbyist photographer.

So, when the retired Lexington couple unwinds with some television together, they usually turn to KET, which they say does more to inform their love of the Commonwealth’s history than any other network.

“We just can’t say enough about the entertainment value that KET provides,” said Georgia, a former schoolteacher who turned to writing after her children had grown. “KET is one of the few places on television where we can still find great stories about Kentucky, stories about the people and places that bring our state’s history to life.”

The Stampers say KET has been a part of their lives for as long as they can remember. Raising their three young daughters in Ashland in the 1970s, they recalled how novel at the time KET’s children’s programming was — programs like Sesame Street and The Electric Company — that helped toddlers learn their first letters and numbers.

“Our oldest daughter spontaneously began reading everything in sight,” Georgia added.

They likewise discovered Masterpiece Theatre, in particular the program Upstairs Downstairs, which chronicled the turn-of-the-century decline of the British aristocracy and single-handedly solidified the Stampers’ devotion to historical costume dramas.

That commitment continues today, with them regularly tuning in to Masterpiece’s more recent series, such as Downton Abbey, Poldark and All Creatures Great and Small.

“We look forward every week to Sunday night on KET,” Georgia said. “That’s our night. We just love the costumes, the character development and the great acting.”

During the pandemic, the KET members said they turned to KET Passport to re-watch some of their favorite dramas and, likewise, to discover new ones.

KET is one of the few places on television where we can still find great stories about Kentucky, stories about the people and places that bring our state’s history to life.

Georgia Green Stamper

“We uncovered a series, Grantchester that we had missed,” Georgia said. “And that was really helpful to us, keeping us sane between the occasional meet-ups with family and friends out on the driveway.”

They also use KET Passport to revisit one of their favorite KET staples: the award-winning documentaries from Ken Burns. They say they’re riveted by Burns’ painstakingly-researched and beautifully-shot films, beginning with The Civil War and more recently, Benjamin Franklin.

“We thought we knew a lot about Ben Franklin, but we learned so many new things about him watching the documentary,” Ernie said. “That’s the great thing about Burns’ films — they’re fascinating, and they send both of us off scrambling to do more research about the things that catch our interest.”

Georgia said Burns’ documentaries have been instrumental in her development as a writer, particularly the way he uses historical documents and old photographs to bring an era to life.

“I don’t think there’s a Ken Burns movie that we haven’t watched, so we really credit KET for expanding the breadth and quality of our viewing material,” Georgia said. “In fact, whenever we find ourselves talking to friends about interesting programs we’ve watched, we notice it’s almost always something from KET.”