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KET History

  • 1962
  • The General Assembly establishes the Kentucky Authority for Educational Television; O. Leonard Press becomes KET’s first executive director.


  • KET signs on the air September 23, broadcasting weekdays during school hours on the second largest land-based network in the world via a statewide, 15-transmitter network.
  • Kentucky Is My Land is KET’s first instructional production.


  • Weekday broadcasts expand to evenings.
  • Sesame Street premieres.


  • Julia Child’s The French Chef premieres on PBS, pioneering how-to programming for television.


  • Friends of KET, a statewide network of volunteers, is incorporated.
  • Masterpiece Theatre premieres.


  • PBS provides unprecedented coverage of the Watergate hearings.


  • Comment on Kentucky premieres with host Al Smith.


  • The GED® on TV series begins national broadcast.
  • Television broadcast expands to seven days a week.


  • Universe & I is KET’s first nationally distributed instructional TV series.
  • The MacNeil/Lehrer Report, now PBS NewsHour, premieres.


  • College on TV telecourses launch.
  • Coverage of the Kentucky General Assembly begins.


  • This Old House and The Victory Garden premiere.


  • KET Fund for Excellence is established.


  • Enterprise division is created to market educational programs nationally.


  • The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross premieres.


  • Nightly open-captioned news service begins.


  • Second-generation GED® series and study-at-home initiative launched.
  • Kentucky Afield, the nation’s longest-running outdoors program, debuts on KET.
  • KET Kids Club established.


  • Summer Celebration event is established at Donamire Farm.


  • Interactive Distance Learning service begins.
  • Live broadcasts of professional development seminars for Kentucky educators begin.


  • Ken Burns’ The Civil War sets PBS audience records.
  • John Sherman Cooper: Gentleman from Kentucky premieres at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.


  • Virginia Gaines Fox named Executive Director and CEO.
  • Star Channels Distance Learning system receives national Innovations Award from the Ford Foundation.


  • O. Leonard Press Telecommunications Center is dedicated.


  • GED®—Get It! airs nationwide as the centerpiece of a national outreach project.


  • Kentucky Tonight premieres.


  • Kentucky Life premieres.
  • launches.
  • The Commonwealth Fund for KET is established with John R. Hall as chairman.
  • W. Paul and Lucille Caudill Little Endowment for the Arts is established.


  • Mountain Born: The Jean Ritchie Story and Signature “George C. Wolfe” premiere nationally on PBS.
  • LiteracyLink, a video and online project featuring GED® and workforce basic skills content, is developed.


  • WKPC, Channel 15 in Louisville, merges with the statewide network and KET2 launches.


  • Street Skills, a teen-oriented safe-driving series, is nominated for a national Emmy Award.
  • Antiques Roadshow welcomes 7,000 treasure hunters at Louisville’s Convention Center.
  • Signature “Barbara Kingsolver” airs nationally on PBS.
  • O. Leonard Press Endowment for Public Affairs programming is established.


  • Kentucky’s first digital television transmitter is activated, KET’s WKPC-DT in Louisville.
  • KET produces public television’s first drama in high definition: American Shorts: “The Ryan Interview,” starring Ashley Judd.
  • Workplace Essential Skills is unveiled at the National Press Club.
  • video-streaming initiative is piloted.


  • More than 10,000 Kentuckians read Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees as part of a statewide literacy campaign.


  • The statewide digital transmission system is activated.
  • Television broadcast service expands to 24 hours a day.
  • GED® Connection, KET’s third-generation test preparation series, premieres nationally on PBS.
  • Jubilee premieres nationally.
  • Executive Director and CEO Virginia Gaines Fox retires and receives a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.


  • Malcolm Wall named Executive Director and CEO.


  • Legislative coverage expands to live broadcast and online video-streaming.
  • Kentucky’s Last Great Places: A Kentucky Life Special becomes the most successful local pledge program on KET.
  • Louisville Outreach office opens.


  • KET EncycloMedia, the predecessor to PBS LearningMedia, launches and provides online multimedia resources to Kentucky’s public schools.
  • KET’s “Be Well Kentucky” health initiative launches.
  • Connections with Renee Shaw premieres.


  • One to One with Bill Goodman premieres.
  • Louisville Life premieres.


  • Antiques Roadshow returns to Louisville.
  • Endowment for Kentucky Productions is established.
  • The Everlasting Stream airs nationally on PBS.


  • Kentucky Channel launches.
  • Kentucky Muse premieres.


  • O. Leonard Press Telecommunications Center transitions to a high-definition production and broadcast facility.
  • Ceasing analog transmissions, KET broadcasts three digital channels, 24/7 on 16 transmitters statewide.


  • Education Matters debuts.
  • Friends of KET receive the National Friends of Public Broadcasting’s Grassroots Advocacy Award.
  • Kentucky Green Banks initiative helps implement energy efficiency measures in the network center.
  • Shae Hopkins named Executive Director and CEO.
  • Everyday Science for Preschoolers launches.


  • Downton Abbey premieres.
  • Kentucky on iTunes U launches, with KET as a lead partner.
  • A studio adjacent to the Louisville Outreach office opens.
  • KET’s Education Division receives the Enterprise and Innovation Award from the National Educational Telecommunications Association.
  • Thoroughbred airs nationally on PBS.
  • KET receives the Association of Public Television Stations National Advocacy Award.


  • Kentucky Collectibles premieres.


  • A live uplink between the International Space Station and middle school students is broadcast.
  • PBS LearningMedia debuts, with KET, WGBH, and WNET as primary content producers.
  • The Everyday Learning Collaborative for early childhood education is established.
  • Morehead State University begins offering KET Distance Learning courses for dual credit.


  • FastForward launches nationally as the most advanced multiplatform learning system for GED test preparation.
  • PBS/KET online video app launches.
  • Dropping Back In premieres nationally.
  • K-12 professional development resources set an annual record with more than 84,000 certificates awarded.


  • Kentucky Society Daughters of the American Revolution recognizes KET with its State Media Award.
  • Kentucky Health debuts from KET’s Louisville studio.


  • Legislative Production Center in Frankfort adds a studio and is upgraded to high definition.
  • The Hilltoppers premieres at Western Kentucky University.
  • Kentucky Veterans of the Vietnam War: In Their Own Words premieres at events in Lexington, Owensboro and Louisville.
  • John R. Hall Endowment for Education is established.
  • Forgotten Fame: The Marion Miley Story premieres.


  • Journey to Recovery premieres as part of the Inside Opioid Addiction initiative.
  • KET PBS KIDS channel launches on-air, on mobile, and online.
  • KET receives the Dr. Samuel Robinson Award from the Kentucky Board of Education for leadership, commitment, and service to equity and opportunity in education for all Kentucky children.


  • The Kentucky Historical Society recognizes KET with the dedication of a historical marker at the Network Center.
  • KET celebrates the 50th anniversary of its first broadcast on September 23, 1968.
  • Antiques Roadshow visits Louisville for a third time.


  • KET’s Big Family: The Story of Bluegrass Music premieres nationally on PBS.
  • KET founder O. Leonard Press passes and was remembered at a memorial service at KET.
  • KET and the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet unveil In Demand.


  • More than 100 employees transitioned to telecommuting, including capabilities for remote editing and remote master control, to ensure uninterrupted 24/7 operations and services.
  • COVID-19 information is provided including online resources, daily and weekly programming and forums.
  • With schools closed, KET Education responds with a variety of learn-at-home resources.
  • Workplace Essential Skills multimedia series is redesigned as online courses featuring seven high-demand career fields.
  • Kentucky Seasons showcases the beauty of the Commonwealth.


  • Let’s Learn Kentucky debuts to address the kindergarten-readiness gap.
  • Walter Tevis: A Writer’s Gambit premieres.
  • Ken Burns’ Muhammad Ali premieres with Louisville garnering the highest major market ratings in the nation.
  • Angels on Horseback: Midwives in the Mountain premieres on PBS.


  • KET launches its first nightly public affairs program, Kentucky Edition.
  • The Farmer and the Foodie is produced by KET and distributed nationally.
  • The Pack Horse Librarians of Appalachia premieres.
  • NEXTGEN TV broadcast launches in Louisville as KET is among the first 15 public television stations to make the technology upgrade.