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Making a Difference: Meeting the Commonwealth’s Needs

As the longtime chair of the Commonwealth Fund for KET, the network’s fundraising body for private and corporate support, Nick Nicholson enjoys an expansive view of the many things KET does for Kentucky.

And he’s got a pretty good idea about which is the most important.

“Whatever part of KET you’re using at that moment, that’s the most important,” said Nicholson, the former president and CEO of Keeneland. “It’s a different thing for different Kentuckians.”

Parents and caregivers with toddlers seek out KET’s early childhood development resources. Those with pre-school and elementary school children enjoy PBS KIDS programs. Job seekers connect with KET’s workforce development resources. And teachers turn to KET for classroom resources and professional development training.

Whatever part of KET you’re using at that moment, that’s the one that’s most important. It’s a different thing for different Kentuckians.

Nick Nicholson

“These are all things you might not think are important until you’re the one using them, then suddenly they’re the most important thing in the world,” Nicholson said. “Which goes to show just how multifaceted KET is and why all of KET’s services are so essential.”

A timely example, Nicholson said, is KET’s statewide network of transmission towers that not only broadcasts KET programming throughout the state but also serves an important public safety role, housing equipment from NOAA, Kentucky State Police and others that support critical emergency communications.

“We’re a state that’s vulnerable to natural disasters,” Nicholson said. “It’s vitally important that during these events our first responders have the communications support they need to get in and do the wonderful work they do.”

A photo portrait of Nick Nicholson wearing a blue shirt and slacks along with blue KET logo socks and smiling sitting in a chair outdoors.

Nicholson also credits KET and its wide-ranging reach across the Commonwealth for helping Kentuckians stay informed on state government proceedings and other statewide issues through its coverage of the General Assembly and public affairs programs such as Kentucky Edition and Kentucky Tonight.

“A lot of Kentuckians get their news and information from media markets outside of Kentucky,” Nicholson said. “So without KET and its commitment of resources to letting Kentuckians know about what’s happening in Frankfort, we as a state wouldn’t be as informed on government issues because no out-of-state media market is going to cover Kentucky across the board.”

KET likewise plays an important storytelling role in the Commonwealth, preserving the state’s unique history with documentaries about some of Kentucky’s most notable historical figures and personalities, Nicholson said. In fact, Nicholson was instrumental in helping ensure that these Kentucky stories get told when, in 2007, Keeneland made the lead charitable contribution to help create the Endowment for Kentucky Productions, which supports programming about the Commonwealth, including Forgotten Fame: The Marion Miley Story, John Hall: The Kentucky Commodore, and Big Family: The Story of Bluegrass Music.

“I’ve always felt that Kentuckians are great storytellers,” Nicholson said. “But if we don’t tell our stories, no one else will. And certainly no one is going to tell the story of Kentucky as well as KET.”