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Homelessness in Kentucky

Renee looks at homelessness from the perspectives of advocates in Kentucky's two largest cities. First, she speaks with Natalie Harris, executive director of Louisville's Coalition for the Homeless, and then with Charlie Lanter, director of Lexington's Office of Homelessness Prevention and Intervention.
Season 12 Episode 17 Length 28:46 Premiere: 01/27/17

Homelessness in Kentucky: Underlying Causes and Possible Solutions

Preliminary results from counts conducted last week show an uptick in homeless populations in both Louisville and Lexington.

Volunteers found 156 unsheltered homeless individuals in the River City, up from 112 in 2016’s count. In Lexington, there were 41 unsheltered homeless people, which is nearly double the number recorded the year before. Totals from both cities will be finalized in coming weeks as surveys of homeless people living in community shelters are tabulated.

On KET’s Connections, host Renee Shaw discussed issues of homelessness with Natalie Harris, executive director of Louisville’s Coalition for the Homeless, and Charlie Lanter, director of Lexington’s Office of Homelessness Prevention and Intervention.

Social workers, advocates for the homeless, and volunteers fan out across the nation to conduct the annual count. The Point-in-Time census seeks to quantify those living on streets and in shelters.

But who actually qualifies as homeless depends on whose definition you use. Lanter explains that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the agency that provides federal funding to fight homelessness, says someone is homeless if they’ve lived outside or in a shelter for a year or more.

On the other hand the U.S. Department of Education expands on that definition to include youth who live in transitional accommodations such as Salvation Army housing or who “couch surf” with friends or relatives.

“Those people ironically wouldn’t even be eligible for HUD assistance because they don’t fit the HUD definition,” says Lanter. “These are the games we have to play when we’re dealing with federal funding; our office’s job is to try to cut through that.”

Homelessness in Lexington has been trending downward in recent years, according to Lanter. He says the total number of sheltered and unsheltered individuals was 1,064 last year. He says that was a 26 percent decrease from the 2014 homeless census.

The Louisville Coalition for the Homeless, a nonprofit advocacy group that represents some 30 agencies that work with the homeless, reported 1,116 homeless people in their 2016 Point-in-Time count. That was down from 1,466 in 2015.

In both communities the number of individuals and families living in shelters comprise the greatest portion of the total homeless count. Both agencies say they closely monitor these statistics so they can track demographic changes to the homeless population and determine how to allocate resources to best help dislocated individuals and families.

An Increase in Youth Homelessness
Lanter and Harris say the homeless can include those with mental health issues or suffering from drug or alcohol addiction; military veterans who’ve had difficulty reentering civilian life; low-income families struggling to make ends meet; or young adults who have aged out of the foster care system and have no real place to go.

In fact, the fastest growing segment of the homeless population is 18 – 24 year olds. Younger children are also impacted by homelessness as well. For example, the number of homeless students in Fayette County schools jumped 92 percent from the 2012-2013 school year to the 2014-2015 academic year.

“We need the child to be able to worry about learning and growing and being a kid,” says Lanter, “and not worrying about where they’re going to sleep tomorrow and what’s for dinner, if anything.”

Lanter adds that he hopes more federal funds will be devoted to addressing student and youth homelessness.

A 2013 report from the Louisville Homeless Coalition showed more than 10,000 Jefferson County public school students were counted as homeless in the previous two years. Harris says her group saw youth numbers start to rise when the recession hit in 2007- 2008.

Another factor is the epidemic of heroin and prescription opioid abuse. Children who are abandoned by a parent with an addiction may end up in state care or staying with relatives. Harris says in Louisville alone, more than 6,000 children live with a grandparent because their parents are no longer in the picture.

“Kentucky has the largest number of kids in foster care now than ever in history,” Harris says, “and a lot of those kids, it’s because of drugs that their parents are involved in.”

She says Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has several initiatives focusing on so-called disconnected youth (those who are not in school and are not working). Harris says the city has expanded its summer works program. They’ve also created a REimage initiative that will give 18 to 24-year-olds who are facing misdemeanor criminal charges a second chance to continue their education or get a job.

A Lack of Affordable Housing
Youth and adults may also find themselves homeless because they don’t earn enough income to be able to afford a place to live.

“Over half of them are employed but they’re in jobs [where they’re] making minimum wage or maybe $8.50 an hour, and they have kids and they’re trying to make ends meet,” Harris says. “They just can’t figure out what to do when their car breaks down or there’s a hospital bill or some unexpected expense.”

That’s why Lanter says it’s important not to assume that a street panhandler is homeless. He says they may be soliciting handouts to help make a rent payment that month. Or they could actually be homeless and have an income, but can’t get a place to live because they don’t have enough money to pay the rent as well as the security deposit and other fees a new renter may be charged. Plus he says a person or family who has been evicted from their home or apartment will likely have a harder time getting new housing even though they are the very people who need it the most.

Lexington’s Office of Homelessness Prevention and Intervention has launched a program to help homeless wage earners get back into housing. Lanter says his agency will pay the security deposit and first month’s rent if the individual can prove they have the income to sustain monthly rental payments. In the first six months alone, that program moved upwards of 40 individuals and families into their own place to live. And they did it for a modest investment of about $10,000, says Lanter.

Affordable housing availability is an issue that homeless advocates in both Louisville and Lexington are working to address. Harris says a safe, sanitary, and affordable home is crucial to everyone’s well-being. Her coalition provided subsidies that allowed more than 1,000 homeless veterans get a place to live.

Lanter says Lexington’s homelessness office tries to work with developers to ensure that urban renewal projects include housing units that would be affordable to those people already living in those neighborhoods and to homeless people who have nowhere else to go.

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Connections host Renee Shaw smiling in a gray suit along with the show logo and a "Check Schedule" button.Connections host Renee Shaw smiling in a gray suit along with the show logo and a "Check Schedule" button.

Season 12 Episodes

Kinship Care Activist Katie Okumu

S12 E46 Length 26:27 Premiere Date 08/25/17

Photographer Carol Peachee

S12 E45 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 08/18/17

Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative

S12 E44 Length 28:28 Premiere Date 08/11/17

Sec. Vickie Yates Brown Glisson

S12 E43 Length 29:17 Premiere Date 08/04/17

Criminal Justice Reform

S12 E42 Length 28:08 Premiere Date 07/28/17

Kayla Rae Whitaker

S12 E41 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 07/14/17

Uncovering Bias in Preschool Education

S12 E40 Length 29:01 Premiere Date 07/07/17

The Latest Data on Kentucky's Kids

S12 E39 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 06/30/17

Building Leadership Skills

S12 E38 Length 29:01 Premiere Date 06/23/17

The Ali Center's Donald Lassere

S12 E37 Length 28:46 Premiere Date 06/16/17

Improving Nutrition in the Daily Diet

S12 E36 Length 27:06 Premiere Date 06/09/17

Alzheimer's Disease

S12 E35 Length 28:19 Premiere Date 06/02/17

Innovation at the Alltech Conference

S12 E34 Length 28:33 Premiere Date 05/26/17

Political Journalist Cokie Roberts

S12 E33 Length 28:06 Premiere Date 05/22/17

2017 Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit

S12 E32 Length 28:03 Premiere Date 05/12/17

Alison Lundergan Grimes

S12 E31 Length 28:37 Premiere Date 05/09/17

Sexual Trauma in the Military

S12 E30 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 05/02/17

Foster Care

S12 E29 Length 28:46 Premiere Date 04/24/17

Justice Secretary John Tilley

S12 E23 Length 29:36 Premiere Date 04/14/17

Job Training in Kentucky

S12 E22 Length 29:31 Premiere Date 03/24/17

Kentucky Tourism

S12 E21 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 02/24/17

Reducing Youth Violence

S12 E20 Length 28:21 Premiere Date 02/17/17

State Treasurer Allison Ball

S12 E19 Length 28:51 Premiere Date 02/10/17

Poverty in America

S12 E18 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 02/03/17

Homelessness in Kentucky

S12 E17 Length 28:46 Premiere Date 01/27/17

Sadiqa Reynolds

S12 E16 Length 28:06 Premiere Date 01/20/17

Cory Jewell Jensen

S12 E15 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 01/13/17

Bill Goodman

S12 E14 Length 28:37 Premiere Date 01/06/17

Promoting Health Equity

S12 E13 Length 29:01 Premiere Date 12/16/16

Kentucky's Teacher of the Year

S12 E12 Length 27:22 Premiere Date 12/09/16

Important Issues for Seniors

S12 E11 Length 28:20 Premiere Date 11/18/16

Nonprofit Organizations

S12 E10 Length 28:22 Premiere Date 11/11/16

Iris Wilbur and Colmon Elridge

S12 E9 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 11/04/16

Alzheimer's Disease

S12 E8 Length 28:32 Premiere Date 10/28/16

Activism Through Music and Art

S12 E7 Length 28:31 Premiere Date 10/21/16

Paducah's Merryman House

S12 E6 Length 28:07 Premiere Date 10/14/16

The Achievement Gap

S12 E5 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 10/07/16

Discussing Domestic Violence

S12 E4 Length 28:32 Premiere Date 09/30/16

Musician Jon Secada

S12 E3 Length 29:13 Premiere Date 09/23/16

Playwright Mitzi Sinnott

S12 E2 Length 27:12 Premiere Date 09/15/16

FDA Chief Dr. Robert Califf

S12 E1 Length 26:26 Premiere Date 09/09/16

Smoking Cessation and Pregnancy

Preview Length 29:32 Premiere Date 09/08/17

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Leadership - Marian Guinn and Lisa Williams; Colene Elridge

Premiered On: 06/23/2017

What does it take to be a good leader? Renee speaks with Marian Guinn and Lisa Williams, the creators of the High Impact Leadership Project that helps people build their leadership prowess. Then, life coach Colene Elridge discusses her workplace trainings on communication, generational understanding, empowering women in leadership roles, and self-care.

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Premiered On: 07/07/2017

Renee's guest is Pikeville, Kentucky native Walter Gilliam, director of the Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy and associate professor of Child Psychiatry and Psychology at the Child Study Center, Yale School of Medicine. Dr. Gilliam has done extensive research in early childhood education and intervention policy analysis and talks about his research on implicit bias among preschool educators. He was a keynote speaker at Kentucky's 2017 Early Childhood Institute conference in Louisville.

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Kayla Rae Whitaker

Premiered On: 07/14/2017

Renee's guest is Mt. Sterling native and author Kayla Rae Whitaker, one of the writers featured at the 2017 Kentucky Women Writers Conference at the University of Kentucky. Whitaker's debut novel, "The Animators", explores the complexities of female friendships, self-identity, and success in the male-dominated field of animation.

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Restaurateur and Chef Ouita Michel

Premiered On: 06/06/2021

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Connections

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Sec. Vickie Yates Brown Glisson

Premiered On: 08/04/2017

Vickie Yates Brown Glisson, secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, talks about Governor Bevin's plan to overhaul the state's Medicaid program, how the cabinet is responding to the opioid addiction crisis, and recruiting and retaining social workers.

  • Monday December 12, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Jeff Hawkins and Robert Brown

Premiered On: 08/11/2017

The Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative (KVEC) serves 21 school districts in southeast Kentucky. Renee speaks with Jeff Hawkins, executive director, and Robert Brown, professional learning lead, of KVEC.

  • Tuesday December 13, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Carol Peachee

Premiered On: 08/18/2017

Photographer Carol Peachee discusses her books, including "The Birth of Bourbon: A Photographic Tour of Early Distilleries" that captures lost distilleries and those undergoing renewal. Peachee is also a pioneer in the integrative health field with decades of clinical experience in counseling, mindfulness practices, and internal arts. She is the founder of the Center for Mindful Living Practices.

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Sam Quinones

Premiered On: 09/01/2017

Renee speaks with journalist Sam Quinones, author of Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic and other books. A reporter for almost 30 years, Quinones lived and worked as a freelance writer in Mexico and is a former reporter for the LA Times.

  • Thursday December 15, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Kristin Ashford - Smoking Cessation and Pregnancy

Premiered On: 09/08/2017

Renee speaks with Kristin Ashford, Ph.D., a professor in the University of Kentucky College of Nursing whose research focuses on prenatal care and interventions aimed at preventing/ending tobacco use and illicit drugs. The program features a young woman who's participating in "Get Fit and Quit" recovery/smoking cessation program that is a partnership between the UK College of Nursing, Chrysalis House (a treatment center for women), and the YMCA. Part of KET's on-going initiative "Smoking and Health" funded in part by a grant from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

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Connections

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U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao

Premiered On: 09/22/2017

Renee sits down with U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao for a wide-ranging, one-on-one interview. Filmed at the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville, Chao discusses the U.S. Department of Transportation's involvement in emergency response and rebuilding efforts following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, plans to address the nation's transportation infrastructure, and other issues.

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Steve Beshear

Premiered On: 09/29/2017

Former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear discusses his new book, "People Over Politics", that covers the tests and triumphs of his administration from 2007-2015. He talks about embracing the Affordable Care Act and expanding Medicaid in Kentucky, his philosophical evolution on same-sex marriage, his unsuccessful struggle with advancing expanded gambling, the persistent plight of funding public employee pensions, among other issues.

  • Tuesday December 20, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Gordon Hamlin

Premiered On: 10/13/2017

Renee's guest Gordon Hamlin, president of Pro Bono Public Pensions and a retired attorney, offers ideas about how to fix Kentucky's ailing public pension systems. Hamlin recommends that Kentucky transition to a shared risk pension plan: longer working careers, elimination of cost of living adjustments, and transition to career average formula.

  • Wednesday December 21, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

Premiered On: 10/20/2017

Renee Shaw discusses youth suicide prevention with Julie Cerel, a professor, licensed clinical psychologist, and president of the American Association of Suicidology. She also talks with Courtney Parr, who shares her powerful and inspiring journey to better mental health.

  • Thursday December 22, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Health Issues - Sen. Julie Raque Adams and Rep. Addia Wuchner

Premiered On: 11/03/2017

State Sen. Julie Raque Adams and State Rep. Addia Wuchner, chairs of the Senate Health and Welfare and House Health and Family Services committees, respectively, discuss upcoming health care issues that will be addressed during the 2018 Kentucky General Assembly.

  • Friday December 23, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Melynda Jamison - CASA of Lexington

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) can help change the story of a child who has suffered abuse and neglect. Renee Shaw talks with the executive director of CASA of Lexington, Melynda Jamison, about what CASAs do, the training they need, and why their work is so vital.

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Good Samaritans - Surgery on Sunday; Bluegrass Families First and One Parent Scholar House

Premiered On: 11/17/2017

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  • Monday December 26, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Sexual Harassment Issues - Consultant Rus Funk

Premiered On: 12/15/2017

Renee's guest is Rus Funk, a consultant on gender equity, anti-racism, and violence prevention. He serves on the board of the National Center on Sexual and Domestic Violence. Funk talks about the spate of sexual harassment charges that have dominated news headlines and offers advice on helping men learn how to modify their behavior to create a professional and respectful work environment.

  • Tuesday December 27, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Silas House

Premiered On: 01/12/2018

Novelist, activist, and educator Silas House discusses his book to be released later this year that focuses on parenthood, his work as an advocate for environmental and gender equity causes, and other topics.

  • Wednesday December 28, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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DV8 Kitchen

Premiered On: 01/19/2018

Renee visits DV8 Kitchen, a restaurant and bakery in Lexington that provides second chance employment opportunities for people in substance recovery who are trying to redirect their lives. She speaks with Rob and Diane Perez about their vision for the restaurant and its support from the community. Renee also talks with employees at the eatery to hear their stories of recovery and how DV8 Kitchen helps them.

  • Thursday December 29, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Gerald Smith

Premiered On: 02/09/2018

Dr. Gerald Smith, a history professor at the University of Kentucky and co-editor of "The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia", joins Renee to discuss race relations in honor of Black History Month. Topics include activism around removing Confederate statues, the status of black leadership in Kentucky, and Dr. Smith's thoughts on the needed response from the faith-based community in eradicating racism.

  • Friday December 30, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Bob Jackson - Murray State University

Murray State University is celebrating its centennial birthday this year. Renee Shaw talks to the president of MSU, Bob Jackson, about his presidency, career, and a new book he has co-authored, entitled "The Finest Place We Know: A Centennial History of Murray State University, 1922-2022."

  • Sunday January 1, 2023 12:00 pm ET on KET
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Educational Innovation

Premiered On: 02/16/2018

Educational innovation in the mountains is leading to a teaching and learning renaissance in southeast Kentucky. Renee and her guests, Dr. Dessie Bowling, associate director of the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative and Rose Shields, rural project manager for the Center for Excellence in Rural Health at the University of Kentucky, discuss recent innovative education practices in the region.

  • Monday January 2, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Premiered On: 04/06/2018

"Connections" remembers Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the 50th anniversary of his assassination. Renee speaks with organizers of a commemorative event in Frankfort and shares highlights from speeches at the MLK Memorial March to Move.

  • Tuesday January 3, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Child Marriage Laws in Kentucky - Donna Pollard

Premiered On: 04/13/2018

Renee speaks with Donna Pollard, a child marriage survivor and founder of Survivors' Corner, who has become the ambassador for changing child marriage laws in Kentucky with the passage of Senate Bill 48 that was signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin on March 29, 2018. SB 48 raises the legal age to marry to 18 in Kentucky with some exceptions.

  • Wednesday January 4, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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  • Wednesday January 4, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY

Kosair Charities Face It Movement; Terry Brooks

Premiered On: 04/20/2018

In part one, Renee speaks with Keith Inman with Kosair Charities and Dr. Jennifer Green, University of Louisville Child Abuse Pediatrics Fellow about Kosair Charities Face It Movement that provides resources for parents and caregivers on child abuse. In part two, Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, talks about legislation passed in the 2018 Kentucky General Assembly that benefits children and families.

  • Thursday January 5, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Dr. Donna Grigsby

Premiered On: 05/11/2018

Renee speaks with Lexington pediatrician Dr. Donna Grigsby about early childhood brain development and the impact of adverse childhood experiences on cognitive and physical health. Dr. Grigsby discusses how to develop literacy skills in young children.

  • Friday January 6, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Connections

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Leadership - Marian Guinn and Lisa Williams; Colene Elridge - S12 E38

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Patricia Peacock - S12 E30

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Cory Jewell Jensen - S12 E18

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Restaurateur and Chef Ouita Michel - S16 E31

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David Thompson - S12 E11

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Mitzi Sinnott - S12 E3

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FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf - S12 E2

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Phil Wilkins - S11 E43

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Tameka Montgomery - S11 E42

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Dayna Seelig - S15 E12

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Dominique Wilkins - S11 E41

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UK President Eli Capilouto - S18 E6

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Gary Tuggle - S11 E40

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Dr. Leana Wen - S11 E39

  • Wednesday November 23, 2022 10:29 pm ET on KETKY
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Terrence Walton - S11 E38

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U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack - S11 E37

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Author Emily Bingham - S18 E11

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Kimberly Johnson - S11 E36

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Jason Merrick - S11 E35

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Fayette County Veterans Treatment Court - S11 E34

  • Wednesday November 16, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Dr. Lynne Saddler - S11 E33

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Scott Hesseltine - S11 E32

  • Monday November 14, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Bill Goodman - Kentucky Humanities - S18 E10

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Jessie Laine Powell - S11 E31

  • Friday November 11, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Oral Health Care In Kentucky - S11 E30

  • Thursday November 10, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday November 10, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
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Kishonna Gray - S11 E29

  • Wednesday November 9, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 9, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
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Gretchen Hunt - S11 E28

  • Tuesday November 8, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Dr. Erin Frazier - S11 E27

  • Monday November 7, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Restoring American Democracy - S18 E9

  • Friday November 25, 2022 11:00 pm ET on KET2
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  • Sunday November 13, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
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  • Saturday November 12, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
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  • Sunday November 6, 2022 12:00 pm ET on KET
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Breast Cancer - S18 E8

  • Sunday November 6, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
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  • Saturday November 5, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
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