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Making a Difference: Uniquely Kentucky

When KET first took to the airwaves in 1968, broadcasting educational programming to schools across Kentucky, John Y. Brown, Jr., the former governor and restaurant magnate, said he watched the network’s early development with keen interest.

A photographic portrait of former Kentucky governor, The Honorable John Y. Brown, Jr. smiling and seated wearing a blue suit with lots of framed images on the wall behind him.

“I didn’t know where this experiment with educational television was going, but I thought it was a great idea,” Brown said.

Now, more than 50 years later, Brown says the impact KET has had on Kentucky cannot be overstated.

“To me, the creation of KET has been the single most important piece of legislation that’s been passed by our General Assembly in my lifetime,” Brown said. “KET truly has been a lifeline for so many people in Kentucky, both as an instrument for education and for learning about all the many regions of our state. And that understanding brings us closer together and gives us an attachment to our state in ways that we didn’t have before.”

Brown said he’s witnessed tremendous growth in Kentucky, particularly in its educational system, over that period. And KET, he said, played an important role in its evolution, whether through early childhood programs like Sesame Street that introduce letters and numbers to young learners, teacher certification courses, or all the high-quality educational resources and activities that KET creates each year to complement classroom and home instruction.

“Being smart is really just learning to be inquisitive,” Brown said. “And KET has a knack for making the learning process interesting, which does so much to help give students direction because they’re engaged and asking questions.”

That curiosity about the world, often instilled at a young age, can serve as a foundation for lifelong learning, Brown said. And KET’s programs highlighting Kentucky’s history, people and places — as well as its government institutions — serve as a bedrock for staying informed about what’s happening in the Commonwealth, Brown added.   

KET truly has been a lifeline for so many people in Kentucky, both as an instrument for education and for learning about all the many regions of our state.

The Honorable John Y. Brown, Jr.

“Let’s face it, most of us don’t understand our own government,” Brown said. “But outside of our families and faith, what’s more important than our government? It touches on every facet of our lives — whether it’s roads, safety or educational institutions. And KET brings you closer to what’s happening in Kentucky, hosting forums and candidate discussions that help make government interesting and informative.”

KET’s public affairs programs such as Kentucky Tonight and Comment on Kentucky, he added, keep viewers abreast of the big issues of the day. And the programs’ moderators take a non-partisan, balanced approach, free of the shock value and political spin that’s become a hallmark of commercial television, he said.

But Brown says his favorite thing about KET is that it’s “uniquely Kentucky,” telling the stories of other Kentuckians through its public forums, documentaries and programs such as Kentucky Life that foster a sense of state pride and attachment. “The more you know and care about your state, the more you’ll be inclined to give back to it,” Brown said. “And it’s incumbent upon all of us to do what we can to improve our communities. KET does a wonderful job of showing what our state has to offer and spearheading conversations about how we can make it better.”