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Making a Difference: Championing the Commonwealth and KET

Mary Michael and Sam Corbett first met in 1989 while serving on the board of StageOne Family Theatre in Louisville.

Though both enjoyed prominent careers—Mary Michael as senior advisor to Kentucky Gov. Martha Layne Collins in the 1980s and later as an executive with Norton Healthcare and Baptist Health Foundation, and Sam as an executive with Sam Meyers Formalwear, a company founded by his grandfather in 1905—it was their shared zeal for Kentucky’s civic and cultural organizations that ultimately brought the couple together.

Sam Corbett in a blue suit and Mary Michael in a red dress standing outside in a garden area.

And it’s that same passion for all things Kentucky that likewise fuels their love for KET.

“KET is such a vital part of the fabric of Kentucky because it educates, inspires and unites us all about what’s going on across the Commonwealth,” said Mary Michael.

Now that they’re retired, the Corbetts say they have a lot more time to catch their favorite KET programs—such as Antiques Roadshow, Poldark and Victoria—as well as to engage with their favorite civic causes.

For Sam, who served for more than a decade on the Jefferson County Public Schools board, Kentucky’s educational system continues to be a source of inspiration.

A few years ago, he teamed up with a Louisville production company to create a half-hour monthly television program, Assignment Education, which airs regularly on KET2, in which he interviews educators and produces video segments about new technology and other noteworthy doings in the school district.

And with eight grandchildren now in the family ranks, the Corbetts say they’re thankful for KET’s children’s programs, such as Sesame Street, Clifford and Arthur.

KET is such a vital part of the fabric of Kentucky because it educates, inspires and unites us all about what’s going on across the Commonwealth.

“As an education advocate, I think it’s really important that we stress preschool and early childhood education for our young children so that they’re better prepared when they enter kindergarten,” Sam said. “And I think KET’s children’s programming is an important part of that equation. The children—and sometimes even the parents—think that they’re just being entertained. But, in fact, the programs provide a real learning environment that plays an important role in literacy and success in school.”

For Mary Michael, who serves as chair of the Kentucky Arts Council, she said she appreciates all the KET programs that explore the arts and tell the story of Kentucky artists—programs such as Kentucky Life, Live From Lincoln Center and It’s a Grand Night For Singing.

“Thomas Merton once said, ‘We lose ourselves in the arts, and we find ourselves in the arts at the same time.’ And I think that’s so true,” Mary Michael said. “KET’s arts programming inspires creativity. And over the last few years, with COVID causing performances to be canceled and venues shuttered, it’s really been a time when we’ve needed the arts more than ever. So I’m so thankful that we have KET, which does such a great job of building awareness in the value of the arts and the role artists play across the Commonwealth.”

Despite the proliferation of news and entertainment options on both television and the web, both Mary Michael and Sam say they still find themselves turning to KET when they want trusted and unbiased information on Kentucky or a quality drama to enjoy.

“KET is still the best thing you can watch on television,” Sam said.