When Kelsey Starks’ daughters, Riess and Avery, hit the door each afternoon after school, it’s the usual routine of shedding backpacks and shoes, then snacks in the kitchen, and kisses for their baby brother, John.
But after those formalities are dispensed with, the two girls, ages 9 and 5, are eager to find their iPad or head to the computer, where their favorite PBS KIDS educational games are waiting for them to continue the learning.
“Both girls love to learn. I hope that’s something I’ve helped instill in them,” said the Owensboro native who, for nearly a decade, hosted WHAS-TV’s “Good Morning,
“When they come home from school in the afternoon they always ask, ‘Can I have screen time and get on PBS KIDS?’”
After a career that took her to New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Charleston, SC, Kelsey and her husband, Chris, began to feel the tug of home, and found Louisville to their liking.
“We fell in love with Louisville and Kentucky in general,” she said. Then, in 2016, with a growing family, she took on a new career: a stay-at-home mom.
“My job now is to raise good citizens,” said Kelsey, who says her career as a journalist fosters the spirit of community service she received from her parents: her dad, also a broadcaster, and her mother, who presided over the Chamber of Commerce.
Through her role as the host of KET’s News Quiz, an in-school current events program, Kelsey is able to keep a toe in broadcasting.
“I think that everybody who grows up watching KET knows the importance it has in a community. And that’s why I got into journalism in the first place,” she said.
And now, she adds, her association with KET blends nicely with her immersion in her children’s education, including instilling in them a drive toward community service.
Back home, the girls turn to their favorite programs; at 2, John loves Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and Sesame Street; Avery can’t get enough of Word Girl; and for Riess, it’s Wild Kratts.
“PBS KIDS is saved on our homepage,” she said. “Riess will get on there and find some kind of animal, and I’ll [discover] that she has not only learned about the blue whale, but she has written down facts about it, printed and cut out pictures of the whale. And she’s super-excited to learn about it.
“And as a parent,” she continued, “I know that they’re in that computer room and I don’t have to worry about what they’re finding, because I know they’re on PBS KIDS — and the same goes for TV. As long as I know they’re on KET, I know I don’t have to worry about what they’re seeing.”
Combining the learning they receive at PBS KIDS with the TV counterparts provides the Starks with a comprehensive way to blend their children’s entertainment and education, she said.
“It’s a really difficult job to keep kids engaged and interested in something that’s educational. They have shiny objects all over the place: iPads, television, computers, and phones. KET’s ability to help them to learn and be kept interested is just exceptional.”