Kentucky Educational Television

Kentucky Educational Television, also known as KET: The Kentucky Network, is Kentucky's non-commercial educational public television state network. It delivers the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) national television programming plus a wide range of local programming, basic skills and workplace education, and college credit courses.

The state network, headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky is operated by the Kentucky Authority for Educational Television. It is the largest PBS state network in the nation, operating all of the PBS member stations licensed to Kentucky with the sole exception of WKYU-TV channel 24 in Bowling Green. Its main headquarters and studios are located adjacent to the University of Kentucky campus, although it has no direct affiliation with the school.

KET was the brainchild of O. Leonard Press, a member of the University of Kentucky faculty and a pioneer in educational broadcasting. Before coming to UK, he'd 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 was enough for him and two of his colleagues to consider founding an educational television station at UK. When they couldn't get the money, they decided to try for a statewide educational television system. At the time, the only educational station in the state was WFPK-TV (now WKPC-TV) in Louisville, on the air since 1958.

The idea gained little momentum until 1959, when Press addressed the local Rotary Club in the state capital, Frankfort, and a story about it appeared in the Louisville Courier-Journal. 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 as executive director (a position he held until 1991). However, the project made little progress until 1965, when a donation from Ashland Oil founder Paul Blazer allowed the authority to acquire its first 13 transmitters. KET finally took to the air on September 23, 1968. Later, its acquisition of WKPC allowed it to start a second service on the Louisville station it already owned.

Transmission and reach into neighboring states
Louisville's WKPC and WKMJ are the only KET stations to have their transmitters outside of Kentucky—their transmitters are located at the Tower Farm in Floyds Knobs, Indiana, just north of New Albany. Because of its location and signal strength (according to FCC data), WKPC and WKMJ cover more of Indiana than Kentucky.

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:

    WKAS (Ashland) - serves a portion of southeastern Ohio (including Ironton and Portsmouth) and the Huntington, West Virginia area
    WKGB (Bowling Green) - serves the northernmost communities of Middle Tennessee, including Portland and Cross Plains
    WCVN (Covington) - serves a large portion of southwestern Ohio and southeastern Indiana, including the Cincinnati area
    WKHA (Hazard) - serves a portion of westernmost Virginia
    WKMU (Murray) - serves a portion of northwestern Tennessee, including the cities of Union City, Martin and Paris
    WKOH (Owensboro/Henderson) - serves several southwestern Indiana counties, including the Evansville area
    WKON (Owenton) - serves the southeasternmost corner of Indiana (including the Madison area)
    WKPD (Paducah) - serves a small portion of southeastern Missouri (including Cape Girardeau) and the southernmost counties in Illinois
    WKPI (Pikeville) - serves portions of southern West Virginia and southwestern Virginia

Distance learning
KET, among its many educational programs, runs a Distance Learning program. The program has course offerings for Latin, Humanities, Physics and German language. The program offers leveled courses ranging from introductory to advanced placement classes. The program is offered primarily for high school students in Kentucky, for whom it is offered tuition free. However, out-of-state schools may enroll students in the course for a small tuition fee.

The aim of the program is to provide a full course in the aforementioned subjects for schools who do not offer a particular class. Often schools seek distance learning as a temporary solution in cases of funding cuts which lead to dismissal of teachers or discontinuation of the teaching of certain subjects altogether. The program also is popular with parents of homeschooled children.

The program was established in 1989 primarily for high school students in Kentucky. The direct-to-school model became possible after a substantial expansion of the state network's headquarters (now dubbed "The O. Leonard Press Telecommunications Center") and legislative funding to provide a satellite receiver for every school and public library in the state. The course was originally administered and taught via live satellite broadcasts directly into classrooms with two-way keypads for real-time student-teacher interaction. Homework, tests, quizzes, etc. were distributed by modem and mail.

Since the mid nineties, KET's Distance Learning program has migrated from broadcast lessons to instruction via KET's website and multimedia lessons on tape, CD, and DVD.