Samiksha Jaiswal (Editor)

Kentucky Educational Television

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Country  United States
Founder  O. Leonard Press
Launch date  23 September 1968
CEO  Shae Hopkins (Jan 2010–)
Date founded  1962
Kentucky Educational Television httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediaenbb9Ken

Type  Non-commercial Broadcast television network
Branding  KET (general)KET: The Kentucky Network (secondary)
First air date  September 23, 1968; 48 years ago (1968-09-23)
Availability  Kentucky (statewide)southern Illinoissouthern Indianasoutheast Missourisouthwest Ohionorthern middle and northwest Tennesseefar western Virginiawestern West Virginia
Slogan  Explore Kentucky, Explore the World.
Headquarters  Lexington, Kentucky, United States
Motto  Explore Kentucky, Explore the World.
Former affiliation  National Educational Television (1968–1970)

Kentucky educational television station id blue 2002

Kentucky Educational Television (also known as KET: The Kentucky Network, or simply KET) is a state network of PBS member television stations serving the U.S. Commonwealth of Kentucky. It is owned and operated by the Kentucky Authority for Educational Television, which holds the licenses for almost all of the PBS member stations licensed in the state with the exception of WKYU-TV (channel 24) in Bowling Green. KET is the largest PBS state network in the United States; the broadcast signals of its sixteen stations cover almost all of the state, as well as parts of Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.


The network's offices, network center and primary studio facilities are located at the O. Leonard Press Telecommunications Center on Cooper Drive in Lexington, adjacent to the campus of the University of Kentucky. (It should be noted that KET has no other direct affiliation with the university.) KET also has production centers in Louisville as well as at the Kentucky State Capitol Annex in Frankfort. KET carries national programming from PBS and American Public Television along with a wide range of local programming, basic skills and workplace education.

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Creation of the network

KET was founded by O. Leonard Press, a member of the University of Kentucky faculty, who was a pioneer in educational broadcasting. Before coming to the university, Press had developed the weekly broadcast from the National Press Club, which has aired for over half a century. In the mid-1950s, he taped a popular anthropology course, and the response to the telecourses was positive enough for Press and two of his colleagues to consider founding an educational television station at the University of Kentucky. This was a natural choice given UK's history in educational broadcasting. UK had been involved in broadcasting in one form or another since 1921, and operated WBKY (now WUKY), the nation's oldest educational radio station on the FM dial.

This drive failed, but Press and his colleagues decided to set their sights higher and make a bid for a statewide educational television network along the lines of Alabama Educational Television (now Alabama Public Television). At the time, the only educational station in Kentucky was WFPK-TV (channel 15, now KET outlet WKPC-TV) in Louisville, which signed on the air on September 8, 1958. Before KET signed on, the only areas of Kentucky that received a clear signal from an educational television station were Northern Kentucky (from WCET in Cincinnati), the Jackson Purchase (from WSIU-TV in Carbondale, Illinois), and certain areas of South Central Kentucky near the Tennessee state line (from WDCN (now WNPT) in Nashville, Tennessee).

The idea gained little momentum until 1959, when Press addressed the local Rotary Club in the state capital of Frankfort and a story about it appeared in The Courier-Journal newspaper. After landing support from UK officials, what was supposed to be a short meeting with Governor Bert T. Combs turned into a proposal to start the state network. The Kentucky Authority for Educational Television was created in 1962 with Press serving as its executive director.

The project made little progress until 1965 when Ashland Oil founder Paul G. Blazer personally acquired the first thirteen transmitter sites and then gifted the sites to the authority. Ownership of the sites led to KET's expanded inclusion in the state budget and eligibility for United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare and Appalachian Regional Commission grants.

First years on air (1968–1989)

KET finally took to the air on September 23, 1968 with programming relayed on 10 stations. The ten charter stations of the network were flagship station WKLE-TV/Lexington, along with WKAS-TV/Ashland, WKGB-TV/Bowling Green, WKZT-TV/Elizabethtown, WKHA-TV/Hazard, WKMA-TV/Madisonville, WKMR-TV/Morehead, WKON-TV/Owenton, WKPI-TV/Pikeville, and WKSO-TV/Somerset.

Over the next 13 years after the network's sign-on, five more full-power stations were added to the network:

  • WKMU-TV in Murray joined the network 16 days after the network's inception.
  • WCVN-TV of Covington was signed on to be part of the network in September 1969 to serve Northern Kentucky's suburbs of Cincinnati.
  • In Louisville, KET signed on WKMJ-TV on September 2, 1970, giving that area a second educational television outlet.
  • In the Owensboro/Henderson area, WNIN-TV/Evansville, Indiana was the default educational television station from its 1970 inception until December 31, 1979, when KET signed on WKOH to expand the network's reach into that area, due to WKMA's signal not being strong enough to completely cover the Owensboro area. This also brings a second educational station to become available to the Evansville media market.
  • In 1981, WKPD of Paducah was converted to a KET station in 1981 after ten years of broadcasting as commercial independent station WDXR-TV. This was done so KET can reach areas of the Jackson Purchase area that WKMU-TV could not reach. Until that time, WSIU-TV in Carbondale, Illinois was the default PBS station, and WKMU-TV/Murray was the default KET transmitter for the Paducah area.
  • Before joining PBS in 1970, KET was a member of its predecessor, National Educational Television, for its first two years of operation.

    The first instructional television (ITV) program produced by KET was Kentucky is My Land, which premiered in late 1968.

    Originally operating only during school hours, within a year it had acquired enough support to begin broadcasting its programming during the evening as well. By 1975, it was showing programming seven days a week.

    The network began nightly coverage of the Kentucky General Assembly in 1978.

    The KET Fund for Excellence, one of the network's sources of funding is established in 1981. One year later in 1982, KET Enterprises is created as a syndication arm of KET to develop, acquire and distribute educational programs nationally to and from other PBS affiliated networks.

    Star Channels and distance learning

    From 1988 through the 1990s and early 2000s, KET's Star Channels satellite network brought hundreds of hours worth of instructional programming and professional development seminars to schools all over Kentucky. The Star Channels received the national Innovations Award from the Ford Foundation in 1991. KET Star Channels 703 and 704 were eventually converted into satellite-exclusive television channels that were entirely different from the over-the-air KET schedule, similar to those of KET3 and KET4 when they were launched in the early 2000s. Star Channels 703 and 704 were also available to C-band free-to-air satellite television users.

    Creation of a second service

    On May 30, 1997, the Kentucky Authority for Educational Television acquired the license for Louisville's then-standalone WKPC-TV from locally based Fifteen Telecommunications, Inc. The FCC approved the sale three days later, on June 2. KET's statewide schedule moved to WKPC from the network's original station, WKMJ-TV on July 1. WKMJ went silent on that day for an upgrade on its transmitter. Its August 1997 return to the air marked the launch of KET's second service, KET2, which was intentionally made to be tailored to the Louisville metropolitan area.

    Kentucky's first digital television station

    WKPC-TV's digital signal, WKPC-DT, was the first KET affiliate to broadcast in digital, and Kentucky's first digital television station. On August 19, 1999, that station's digital signal was turned on by then-Kentucky governor Paul E. Patton as part of the opening day festivities of the Kentucky State Fair.

    Current programming

  • Comment on Kentucky, KET's longest-running public affairs program. It has been in existence since 1974. Series creator and original host, Al Smith, retired from the series in November 2007. It has since been hosted by Ferrell Wellman and Bill Bryant.
  • Kentucky Afield is a magazine, radio show and television program, and is the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. The magazine is a quarterly periodical while the television and radio programs are a 30-minute broadcast, all of which is devoted to the fish and wildlife resources of Kentucky and covers a broad range of outdoor topics, including angling, hunting, conservation and land management.
  • Kentucky Collectibles, a series where participants have their possessions assessed by an appraiser, with hosts Dave Shuffett and Amy Hess discuss with the guests about the valuables.
  • Kentucky Life features profiles of people, places and ideas of Kentucky. It is the most popular show on KET.
  • Louisville Life features events, people, and culture of Louisville.
  • Former programming

    In 1987, KET, along with Detroit, Michigan ABC affiliate WXYZ-TV, produced Learn to Read, an adult educational program that teaches reading skills and it was hosted by entrepreneur and literacy advocate Wally Amos. Amos was also the host of another KET-produced adult literacy program, Another Page.

    Prior to 2002, KET went off the air every night at midnight E.T. (11 p.m. CT). The network used to sign off with the playing of "My Old Kentucky Home", which is the official state song of Kentucky. The film featured scenes from all areas of Kentucky, including Fort Boonesborough, the Jefferson Davis Monument, the Lincoln Birthplace, Kentucky Horse Park, and more.


    KET, available to all cable subscribers in Kentucky, broadcasts locally produced cultural and public information programs about the state, programs produced by independent Kentucky filmmakers, prime-time programming from PBS, PBS Kids series, and GED, how-to and adult education programs.

    As it is one of a few PBS member state networks encompassing two time zones, KET's programming operates on an Eastern Time Zone schedule; in promos, online guides on the network's website and print advertisements, airtimes within the Central Time Zone (which covers the western part of the state) are identified secondarily, in the manner of the "Eastern/Central" scheduling references used by many national broadcast and cable networks. Most of the KET stations have callsigns beginning with "WK", with the exception of Covington-licensed WCVN-TV.

    Coverage areas

    Louisville's WKPC and WKMJ are the only KET stations whose transmitters are located outside of Kentucky – both stations' transmitters are located at the Kentuckiana Tower Farm in rural Floyd County, Indiana (north of Floyds Knobs and New Albany). Because of its location and signal strength (according to FCC data), WKPC and WKMJ cover more of the Indiana side of the Louisville market than the Kentucky side. In addition to the reach of WKPC and WKMJ, several of KET's other stations are viewed in significant portions of Kentucky's neighboring states as well.


    KET also operates three translator stations:

    Former translators

    KET also previously utilized analog transmitters that were shut down before the digital TV translation. They were:

    In Augusta, W20CT-D was launched in October 2007 as the companion for W56AT. W28DD-D was the digital companion for W10AR in Louisa. Falmouth's W23DM-D was the digital companion for W56AM.


    KET2, based on KET's original Louisville station, WKMJ-TV, airs the national PBS schedule, local programming including shows focused on the Louisville area, children's programs, how-to series, documentaries and public affairs programs. Outside of Louisville, KET2 can be seen on several cable systems across Kentucky as well as on KET's digital signals. It is broadcast in standard definition and is available to 62% of Kentucky's cable subscribers. Originally, WKMJ-TV was the KET translator serving the Louisville market alongside of the independent WKPC-TV; it carried the same programs as in the rest of the state.

    KET KY: The Kentucky Channel

    KET KY, formerly branded as KET3, which is carried as the third digital subchannel on 15 of the KET stations and on WKMJ-DT2, formerly broadcast all of the state network's educational programming throughout its broadcast day. In January 2008, KET3 was relaunched as KET KY, now broadcasting Kentucky-based issues, heritage, history and culture. The network's educational programming was moved to KET ED in late 2007.

    KET KY also broadcasts coverage of the Kentucky General Assembly while it is in session, combining the services previously offered on KET5 and KET6. KET KY presently broadcasts 24 hours a day in standard definition. KET KY also previously broadcast KET HD programming from 8 p.m. to 1 midnight Eastern (7-11 p.m. Central) until Fall 2009.

    KET Kids

    On December 12, 2016, the fourth subchannel of KET's main satellites were relaunched for the first time since the discontinuation of KET ED, the Educational Channel seven years prior. It was first broadcasting a test pattern. Since January 12, 2017, the DT4 subchannel of all of the KET stations except WKMJ now carries the new 24-hour-a-day PBS Kids channel, with the branding KET Kids. It provides a 24/7 schedule of children's programming. However, both KET and KET2 continue to provide a limited block of PBS Kids programming.

    KET World

    KET World features programs about world history, featuring programming content sourced from the World network; it is currently available only on the third digital subchannel of KET's secondary Louisville station WKMJ-TV.

    KET ED: Education Channel

    KET ED (formerly branded as "KET4"), formerly offered KET's digital service during primetime hours and programming from the Annenberg Channel at other times. At one time, this service was carried on the fourth digital subchannel of KET's station. From 2007 to 2009, it was re-branded as KET ED, the Education Channel. During that time, professional development and instructional programming, and Annenberg programming was provided 20 hours per day from 12 midnight to 8 p.m. Eastern time (11 p.m. to 7 p.m. Central time), which was previously on KET3 and on Star Channels 703 and 704. In Louisville, this service was also available 24 hours a day on WKMJ's DT3 digital signal, but has since been discontinued in 2009, due to an increase of fees for the usage of the national PBSHD channel by PBS. Instead, KET reinvested the money to acquire new digital equipment, including upgrades to allow the transmission of locally produced and tape delayed programming in high definition. This increase of PBSHD fees has also led to KET scheduling HD programming themselves, rather than merely carrying the national feed on the KET KY channel.

    Beginning in the fall of 2009, KET ED provided a feed of K-12 educational programming on KET KY from 1:00 to 5:00 a.m. Eastern Time. The KET ED programming block on KET KY was ultimately discontinued in the early 2010s, but the KET ED service remains available as an on-demand video service on KET's website.

    KET5 and KET6

    KET5 and KET6 featured live coverage of the Kentucky House of Representatives and Senate respectively on the services, while the state General Assembly was in session. These channels were discontinued in January 2008, when KET realigned its digital programming (see KET KY and KET ED above). As mentioned above, coverage of the General Assembly, while reduced significantly, is still carried on KET KY. In the state capital of Frankfort, however, both the Kentucky House and Senate are seen when in session on local cable provider Frankfort Plant Board, overlapping the slots of C-SPAN3 and NASA TV.

    Cable and satellite availability

    In addition to KET's statewide cable television availability, some cable providers along state lines can cover certain areas on both sides of the state lines because of their interstate customer base.

    On DirecTV and Dish Network, certain KET stations are also available in the Kentucky-associated media markets in their entireties. WKPD, WKOH, WKPC, WCVN, and WKAS are carried on the respective local feeds in the Paducah/Cape Girardeau, Evansville, Louisville, Cincinnati, and Huntington/Charleston markets. KET2, through WKMJ-TV, is currently available on both satellite providers in the Louisville market only. Currently, in the Bowling Green market, only Dish Network carries the network via WKGB as DirecTV does not provide local channels to that market.


    Kentucky Educational Television Wikipedia