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Beth Cocanougher

Making a Difference

Beth Cocanougher

The Difference of a Lifetime

It is immensely important that those of us who are able to provide support do it not only for ourselves but for others so that they can get the same enrichment that we do.
Beth Cocanougher of Louisville – KET supporter

The road taken by Louisville’s Beth Cocanougher has been a varied one, but throughout much of it, public television has been her traveling companion.

Beth Cocanougher

Back when she was a new graduate of the University of Kentucky teaching high-school English, she found educational television was a way to give her students supplemental educational experiences she and her fellow teachers couldn’t provide in the classroom.

Later, in the early 1980s, a new world was opened to her when she stumbled upon KET’s broadcast of the Masterpiece Theater production “Disraeli,” a dramatization of the life of the formidable British prime minister. She fell in love with its history—and then became a devoted follower of the iconic public television series.

“I was hooked,” she remembered. “After ‘Disraeli’ I tried to catch as many programs as I could on Masterpiece. I saw ‘Brideshead Revisited,’ which was one of the first leading roles for Jeremy Irons. It was a wonderful, wonderful miniseries.”

Later, after law school and taking a job with LG&E, she was sent to the British Isles for a two-year stint of employment. Stepping onto those shores, she said, she drank in every locale firsthand that she’d first been exposed to through programming on KET.

“One of the first things I did was visit Castle Howard in Yorkshire, the setting for ‘Brideshead Revisited,’” she recalled. “I also made a point of visiting Parliament, which is where Disraeli spoke, of course, and I went to Belgravia, the setting for ‘Upstairs, Downstairs.’ The entire country was like walking onto a Masterpiece set!”

And so it is without hesitation that the admitted Anglophile says that her decision was an easy one to support KET with an annual donation.

“I have gained so much both personally and professionally through the years from KET that when I decided it was time to give back, this is one of the most natural places for me to make my investment,” she said.

“It is immensely important that those of us who are able to provide support do it not only for ourselves but for others so that they can get the same enrichment that we do.”

And that stimulating programming, Cocanougher noted, comes not only from across the pond; she values series produced here in Kentucky by KET—programs made possible, she proudly says, “by viewers like us!”

“When I look at Visions, I am amazed at the breadth of programs that are carried each month, like Kentucky Life or other programs about the geography. There are so many interesting people doing interesting things, I always find something I want to watch or record,” she said.

“I still feel like I am being educated, but in the most fascinating way,” she added. “The topics presented by KET pull me in and help me understand my community, and my place in the country, and in the world.”

Cocanougher says that her enthusiasm for KET has made her husband, Dan Fox, another die-hard fan of Masterpiece and more.

“He became aware of Masterpiece because of me and now he’s a huge fan,” she said. “We love all the productions like ‘Downton’ and ‘Mystery’—particularly Sherlock-with-a-cell-phone,” she said. “I’d love to share ‘Disraeli’ with him since that was such an absolute favorite. And KET has given documentaries a good name, with Ken Burns productions like The Dust Bowl and The War.

So integrated have the programs become into their lives, Cocanougher says, that the couple looks forward to their weekly Masterpiece date.

“It’s always a race to the sofa to watch Masterpiece, she said with a laugh. “It’s the perfect way to end the weekend and to start the next week.”