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Whitney Austin - Reducing Gun Violence

Renee Shaw talks with Whitney Austin, who narrowly survived a shooting at a Cincinnati bank three years ago. Now, she's the founder of Whitney/Strong, an organization dedicated to forging common-sense, bipartisan solutions to reducing gun violence.
Season 17 Episode 4 Length 27:01 Premiere: 09/26/21

Survivor of Mass Shooting Discusses Her Mission to Prevent More Tragedies from Happening

Three years ago this month, Whitney Austin was lying in a hospital bed, recovering from a dozen gunshot wounds she suffered during a mass shooting that unfolded at the Fifth Third Bank building in downtown Cincinnati. Miraculously, the hail of bullets that struck her missed her major organs and arteries. When she regained consciousness and doctors explained what happened to her, she knew her life would never be the same.

“It was the moment where I knew I was going to survive,” Austin says, “and that I had to do something to help others.”

After her recovery, Austin, who lives in Louisville, left her job as a vice president for Fifth Third, and started a nonprofit organization called Whitney/Strong, which is dedicated to finding and implementing bipartisan, common-sense solutions to end the scourge of gun violence in America. She says the more she researched the issue after her incident, the more she realized she had to put her time and skills into full-time advocacy.

“I cared about preventing gun violence before this happened to me, but I didn’t have the courage to act on it in the way that I should have,” Austin says.

‘Reducing Gun Violence and Preserving the Second Amendment’

Four people died the morning of Sept. 6, 2018, including the shooter. It was just one of 336 mass shootings in the United States that year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. So far this year, there have been more than 535 mass shootings, and more than 33,000 deaths from gunshot wounds, including both homicides and suicides.

Not only did Austin survive the Fifth Third Bank shooting, but she sustained no serious long-term physical damage other than limited mobility in one shoulder and some numbness in one hand. She did have five surgeries to repair the damage, though, and she says she’s had hundreds of hours of physical and occupational therapy as well as counseling for herself and her family.

“I know how difficult life is when you’re shot and when you’re left to pick up the pieces, and I don’t want anybody else to experience this, or worse, to lose someone they love,” says Austin. “This is why I do the work.”

But Austin says she didn’t want to fall into the trap of polarizing debates or demonizing gun owners. She says that only generates noise and division that prevents real progress on the issue.

“Reducing gun violence and preserving the Second Amendment are not mutually exclusive goals, and I can say that as a gun owner,” says Austin. “So how can we approach this differently and invite everyone to participate in solving this problem? Because that’s what matters.”

Austin and her group advocate for research-based solutions at the state and federal levels that she says can be successful in reducing gun violence. Some proposals involve legislation, such as her crisis aversion and rights retention bill, also known as CARR. That provides for a judicial process to temporarily remove firearms from a gun owner mired in addiction or a mental health crisis.

Republican state Sen. Paul Hornback of Shelbyville and Sen. Morgan McGarvey, a Democrat from Louisville, backed the CARR proposal in the 2021 Kentucky General Assembly Session. But Senate Bill 229 never made it out of committee.

Whitney/Strong also advocates for non-policy solutions such as the Save a Life program that promotes individual responsibility and safe storage of personal firearms. Austin says the initiative seeks to protect family members from deadly weapons, including toddlers and young children who may find and accidentally discharge a firearm. But she says teens and young adults pose an even greater risk.

“In the age group of 10 to 24 we have seen adolescent suicide rates increase more than 60 percent since 2007,” she says. “Suicide is the biggest problem that we have in the state of Kentucky with more than 400 people dying every year to firearm suicide.”

Finally, Austin says the Save a Life program also helps prevent legally owned guns from being stolen and used for illegal activities. Even if a gun was purchased for personal safety, Austin says the weapon is more likely to be discharged by a family member in the home than used to defend against an intruder.

Finding Hope in Small Victories

The push for any kind of gun measures is arduous and successes are rare, even when there is bipartisan support. Austin says she finds hope in small but important victories, like a 2019 vote in Congress to appropriate $25 million to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health for gun violence research. She contends the more data policymakers have on the issue, the easier it will be to find consensus on potential solutions.

“We really have to continue to do the research to understand the factors that come together and are at play when gun violence occurs,” she says.

Even while her physical wounds have healed, the emotional scars from that September morning three years ago persist. Austin says she still has moments of survivor’s guilt, although not nearly as frequently as she initially did. She says she’ll never know why she survived, but adds that she plans pose that question to God when she dies. She says she came to realize feelings of guilt consume valuable energy she could devote to working to reduce gun violence.

She also has to navigate in a world where gun violence makes headlines nearly every day. Austin says she can be triggered by news of a mass shooting similar to hers, or even by a senseless gun death, like the recent drive-by shooting of a Louisville teenager waiting a school bus stop.

“I try to give myself the space that I need to pray and process what has happened and then I use it to reenergize myself to do the work of Whitney/Strong,” says Austin. “Whitney/Strong in some ways is my therapy, and I’m so grateful to have it because I know that the work we’re doing is making a difference and that we are saving lives.”

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Kentucky Edition host Renee Shaw in a green dress with the logo superimposed over the image along with a CHECK SCHEDULE button.Kentucky Edition host Renee Shaw in a green dress with the set behind her and the logo superimposed over the image along with a CHECK SCHEDULE button.

Season 17 Episodes

Lyle Roelofs - Berea College

S17 E32 Length 27:49 Premiere Date 06/26/22

Engaging Fathers; Improving Financial Literacy

S17 E31 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 06/19/22

Delanor Manson - Kentucky Nurses Association

S17 E30 Length 27:26 Premiere Date 06/12/22

School Safety in Kentucky

S17 E29 Length 29:06 Premiere Date 06/05/22

Gun Safety Advocate Whitney Austin

S17 E28 Length 27:32 Premiere Date 05/29/22

Ben Chandler - Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky

S17 E27 Length 27:51 Premiere Date 05/22/22

Advancing Mental Health Awareness in Kentucky

S17 E26 Length 27:01 Premiere Date 05/15/22

Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams

S17 E25 Length 27:36 Premiere Date 05/08/22

Brigitte Blom - Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence

S17 E24 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 05/01/22

Jill Seyfred - Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky

S17 E23 Length 27:17 Premiere Date 04/18/22

Child Abuse Prevention in Kentucky

S17 E22 Length 28:03 Premiere Date 04/10/22

Kidney Health: Prevention, Treatment, and Organ Donation

S17 E21 Length 26:53 Premiere Date 04/03/22

Reporter Jonathan Bullington

S17 E20 Length 28:07 Premiere Date 02/27/22

Nikki Lanier - Harper Slade

S17 E19 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 02/20/22

WFPL's Stephanie Wolf and Jess Clark

S17 E18 Length 27:51 Premiere Date 02/13/22

Felicia C. Smith - National Center for Families Learning

S17 E17 Length 27:33 Premiere Date 02/06/22

Tom Shelton - Henry Clay Center

S17 E16 Length 27:33 Premiere Date 01/23/22

Cabinet for Health and Family Services Sec. Eric Friedlander

S17 E15 Length 28:10 Premiere Date 01/09/22

Exploring Solutions to the Healthcare Worker Shortage

S17 E14 Length 27:01 Premiere Date 12/12/21

William Turner on Black Life in Appalachia

S17 E13 Length 27:54 Premiere Date 11/21/21

Kentucky Poet Laureate Crystal Wilkinson

S17 E12 Length 27:43 Premiere Date 11/14/21

Addressing Needs of Kentuckians with Disabilities

S17 E11 Length 27:36 Premiere Date 11/07/21

Chelsea Ellis-Hogan

S17 E9 Length 27:11 Premiere Date 10/31/21

2021 Kentucky Book Festival

S17 E8 Length 28:12 Premiere Date 10/24/21

Devine Carama

S17 E7 Length 27:41 Premiere Date 10/17/21

Rufus Friday

S17 E6 Length 27:56 Premiere Date 10/10/21

Aaron Thompson

S17 E5 Length 28:04 Premiere Date 10/03/21

Whitney Austin - Reducing Gun Violence

S17 E4 Length 27:01 Premiere Date 09/26/21

Filmmaker Sarah Burns

S17 E3 Length 28:11 Premiere Date 09/19/21

Charlene Buckles and Dan Wu

S17 E2 Length 27:23 Premiere Date 09/12/21

See All Episodes

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Host Renee Shaw celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month and speaks with two community activists involved in the Hispanic community in Bowling Green: Fabian Alvarez, WKU professor and Hilltopper Organization of Latin American Studies advisor, and Leyda Becker, international liaison for the city of Bowling Green. Renee also shows viewers the bold artistry of educator and artist, Mercedes Harn.

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University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences doctoral student Nana Ama Aya Bullock and Prof. Muriel Harris talk about Bullock's Fulbright fellowship to to study HIV/AIDS in Ghana. They also discuss racial disparities that impact health outcomes in the United States.

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Host Renee Shaw speaks with Beth Howard and Michael Harrington from Southern Crossroads and Rednecks for Black Lives, an organization dedicated to building community power and multi-racial alliances among the poor and working-class in the South. She also follows up with activist and hip hop artist Devine Carama, who walked hundreds of miles across Kentucky to promote voter awareness and racial justice.

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A Mission to End Institutional Racism in Kentucky

Premiered On: 01/24/2021

Renee Shaw speaks with University of Louisville alums OJ Oleka and Terrance Sullivan, co-founders of AntiRacism Kentucky, a coalition focused on eliminating institutional racism within state and local government policy.

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Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Keith Jackson

Premiered On: 01/31/2021

Renee Shaw speaks with retired Lt. Col. Keith Jackson, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs. They discuss the impact of COVID-19 on VA facilities, the posthumous promotion of African American soldier Col. Charles Young to Brigadier General, and other topics.

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Christopher 2X

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Louisville activist Christopher 2X talks about his journey as a former convicted drug dealer who received government pardons for his crimes, to his community work helping young people stay on a better path through early childhood education initiatives.

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Kentucky Authors - Prisha Hedau; Carly Muetterties and Maddie Shepard

Premiered On: 03/21/2021

In honor of Women’s History Month, Renee Shaw talks to Kentucky student and author Prisha Hedau, who published her book PANDEMIC 2020 last fall, written when she was just 9-years-old. Next, former social studies teachers Carly Muetterties and Maddie Shepard talk about their book Bluegrass Bold: Stories of Kentucky Women for use in Kentucky classrooms. The book highlights the contributions of more than 30 Kentucky women.

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The Rise of Anti-Asian Violence

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Renee Shaw talks with Representative Nima Kulkarni, Kentucky's only Asian-American legislator and writer, activist, and social entrepreneur Mae Suramek about the increase of harassment and violence against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.

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EKU Criminal Justice Professor Pete Kraska

Premiered On: 04/04/2021

Renee Shaw talks with Pete Kraska, Ph.D., an Eastern Kentucky University criminology professor, author and leading scholar on police militarization. Kraska discusses a new Kentucky law that limits the use of no-knock warrants and its impact on communities of color.

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Vaccine Equity and Hesitancy

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Host Renee Shaw talks to community leaders and health equity experts about vaccine equity and the root causes of hesitancy in communities of color.

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Premiered On: 05/02/2021

Renee Shaw talks with Cynthia Knapek, president of the Leadership Louisville Center about leadership, diversity and inclusion and the future of work.

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Sarah Taylor Vanover - Early Childhood Education

Premiered On: 05/16/2021

Renee Shaw talks with early childhood education expert Sarah Taylor Vanover, Ed.D., about why America's childcare industry is on the verge of collapse and what can be done to save it. Vanover is the author of "America's Child-Care Crisis: Rethinking an Essential Business."

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Connections

Premiered On: 08/08/2021

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Restaurateur and Chef Ouita Michel

Premiered On: 06/06/2021

Renee Shaw talks with restaurateur and culinary artist Ouita Michel about her first cookbook, Just a Few Miles South: Timeless Recipes from Our Favorite Places, which features some favorite recipes of her restaurant patrons.

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Former Congressman John Yarmuth - S18 E16

  • Wednesday January 25, 2023 4:30 am ET on KET
  • Wednesday January 25, 2023 3:30 am CT on KET
  • Sunday January 22, 2023 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday January 22, 2023 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday January 22, 2023 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday January 22, 2023 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday January 22, 2023 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday January 22, 2023 11:00 am CT on KET

Pastor Edward Palmer - Racial Bias and Juvenile Justice Reform - S15 E2

  • Friday January 20, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday January 20, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday January 20, 2023 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday January 20, 2023 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday January 20, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday January 20, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Mike Runyon and Sherita Miller; Wendy Kobler - S14 E35

  • Thursday January 19, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday January 19, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday January 19, 2023 2:11 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday January 19, 2023 1:11 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday January 19, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday January 19, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Brent Hutchinson; Christine Thompson - Education - S14 E32

  • Wednesday January 18, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 18, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 18, 2023 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 18, 2023 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 18, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 18, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Education in Rural Eastern Kentucky - S14 E27

  • Tuesday January 17, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 17, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 17, 2023 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 17, 2023 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 17, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 17, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Joshua A. Douglas - Voting Rights Reform - S14 E25

  • Monday January 16, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday January 16, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday January 16, 2023 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday January 16, 2023 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday January 16, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday January 16, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Former State Rep. Joni Jenkins - S18 E15

  • Sunday January 22, 2023 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday January 22, 2023 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday January 21, 2023 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday January 21, 2023 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 18, 2023 4:30 am ET on KET
  • Wednesday January 18, 2023 3:30 am CT on KET
  • Sunday January 15, 2023 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday January 15, 2023 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday January 15, 2023 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday January 15, 2023 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday January 15, 2023 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday January 15, 2023 11:00 am CT on KET

Colene Elridge - S14 E23

  • Friday January 13, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday January 13, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday January 13, 2023 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday January 13, 2023 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday January 13, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday January 13, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Marcie Timmerman - Mental Health and Wellness - S13 E43

  • Thursday January 12, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday January 12, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday January 12, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday January 12, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Tiffany Manuel - Affordable Housing - S13 E42

  • Wednesday January 11, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 11, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 11, 2023 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 11, 2023 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 11, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 11, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Shining a Spotlight on Epilepsy - S13 E35

  • Tuesday January 10, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 10, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 10, 2023 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 10, 2023 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 10, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 10, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Criminal Justice Reform - Cherise Fanno Burdeen - S13 E34

  • Monday January 9, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday January 9, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday January 9, 2023 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday January 9, 2023 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday January 9, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday January 9, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton - S18 E14

  • Sunday January 15, 2023 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday January 15, 2023 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday January 14, 2023 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday January 14, 2023 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 11, 2023 4:30 am ET on KET
  • Wednesday January 11, 2023 3:30 am CT on KET
  • Sunday January 8, 2023 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday January 8, 2023 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday January 8, 2023 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday January 8, 2023 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday January 8, 2023 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday January 8, 2023 11:00 am CT on KET

Dr. Donna Grigsby - S13 E28

  • Friday January 6, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday January 6, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday January 6, 2023 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday January 6, 2023 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday January 6, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday January 6, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Kosair Charities Face It Movement; Terry Brooks - S13 E25

  • Thursday January 5, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday January 5, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday January 5, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday January 5, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Child Marriage Laws in Kentucky - Donna Pollard - S13 E24

  • Wednesday January 4, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 4, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 4, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 4, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - S13 E23

  • Tuesday January 3, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 3, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 3, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 3, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Educational Innovation - S13 E21

  • Monday January 2, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday January 2, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday January 2, 2023 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday January 2, 2023 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday January 2, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday January 2, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Bob Jackson - Murray State University - S18 E4

  • Sunday January 8, 2023 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday January 8, 2023 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday January 7, 2023 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday January 7, 2023 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday January 4, 2023 4:30 am ET on KET
  • Wednesday January 4, 2023 3:30 am CT on KET
  • Monday January 2, 2023 4:30 am ET on KET
  • Monday January 2, 2023 3:30 am CT on KET
  • Sunday January 1, 2023 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday January 1, 2023 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday January 1, 2023 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday January 1, 2023 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday January 1, 2023 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday January 1, 2023 11:00 am CT on KET

Melynda Jamison - CASA of Lexington - S18 E2

  • Sunday January 1, 2023 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday January 1, 2023 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday December 31, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday December 31, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY

Gerald Smith - S13 E20

  • Friday December 30, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday December 30, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday December 30, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday December 30, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday December 30, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday December 30, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

DV8 Kitchen - S13 E17

  • Thursday December 29, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday December 29, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday December 29, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday December 29, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday December 29, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday December 29, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Silas House - S13 E16

  • Wednesday December 28, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday December 28, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday December 28, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday December 28, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday December 28, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday December 28, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Sexual Harassment Issues - Consultant Rus Funk - S13 E14

  • Tuesday December 27, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 27, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 27, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 27, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 27, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 27, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Good Samaritans - Surgery on Sunday; Bluegrass Families First and One Parent Scholar House - S13 E12

  • Monday December 26, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday December 26, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday December 26, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday December 26, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday December 26, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday December 26, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY
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