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.

Digital Television

Channel Name Programming
xx.1 KET Main KET programming / PBS
xx.2 KET2 PBS Encore
xx.3 KET KY Kentucky Channel (5am-1am)
KET ED (1am-5am)


KET's television service consists of three channels. Its original service, KET, at one time known as KET1, is its largest, consisting of 16 transmitters and 3 translators covering all of Kentucky and portions of Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. It broadcasts in high-definition and is available to all of Kentucky's cable television subscribers.

As the system is one of a few PBS member state networks encompassing two time zones, the state network's schedules are tuned to the more wide-ranging Eastern Time Zone, with the Central Time Zone in the western part of the state being identified secondarily, so all program time calls are listed in the form of "[Time] Eastern/[Time] Central."

Station City of license Channels
First air date Call letters'
ERP HAAT Facility ID Transmitter Coordinates
WKAS Ashland 25 (PSIP)
26 (UHF)
September 23, 1968 Kentucky
61.3 kW 137 m 34171 38°27′43.7″N 82°37′11.8″W
WKGB-TV Bowling Green 53 (PSIP)
48 (UHF)
September 23, 1968 Kentucky
Bowling Green
54.8 kW 234 m 34177 37°5′22.7″N 86°38′5″W
WCVN-TV Covington 54 (PSIP)
24 (UHF)
September 8, 19691 CoVingtoN 53.5 kW 117 m 34204 39°1′50.6″N 84°30′23″W
WKZT-TV Elizabethtown 23 (PSIP)
43 (UHF)
September 23, 1968 Kentucky
61 kW 178 m 34181 37°40′55.2″N 85°50′31.2″W
WKHA Hazard 35 (PSIP)
16 (UHF)
September 23, 1968 Kentucky
53.2 kW 369 m 34196 37°11′34.2″N 83°11′17.4″W
WKLE Lexington 46 (PSIP)
42 (UHF)
September 23, 1968 Kentucky
45.8 kW 257.6 m 34207 37°52′45″N 84°19′32.8″W
WKPC-TV2 Louisville 15 (PSIP)
17 (UHF)
September 8, 19583 Kentucky
(for Central Park)
60.3 kW 237 m 21432 38°22′1.6″N 85°49′53.8″W
WKMA-TV Madisonville 35 (PSIP)
42 (UHF)
September 23, 1968 Kentucky
55.1 kW 298 m 34212 37°11′21.3″N 87°30′49″W
WKMR Morehead 38 (PSIP)
15 (UHF)
September 23, 1968 Kentucky
51.4 kW 289 m 34202 38°10′38.3″N 83°24′17.2″W
WKMU Murray 21 (PSIP)
36 (UHF)
October 9, 1968 Kentucky
56.9 kW 187 m 34174 36°41′34.2″N 88°32′10.6″W
WKOH Owensboro 31 (PSIP)
30 (UHF)
December 31, 1979 Kentucky
OHio Valley
63.3 kW 124 m 34205 37°51′7″N 87°19′44″W
WKON Owenton 52 (PSIP)
44 (UHF)
September 23, 1968 Kentucky
49.7 kW 214 m 34211 38°31′31.5″N 84°48′39.4″W
WKPD4 Paducah 29 (PSIP)
41 (UHF)
May 31, 1971 Kentucky
55.7 kW 143 m 65758 37°5′39.7″N 88°40′20″W
WKPI-TV Pikeville 22 (PSIP)
24 (UHF)
September 23, 1968 Kentucky
50.4 kW 423 m 34200 37°17′6.3″N 82°31′28.3″W
WKSO-TV Somerset 29 (PSIP)
14 (UHF)
September 23, 1968 Kentucky
53.3 kW 429 m 34222 37°10′2.6″N 84°49′29.8″W

1. The Broadcasting and Cable Yearbook says WCVN signed on September 9, while the Television and Cable Factbook says it signed on September 8.
2. WKPC-TV was a stand-alone station, municipally owned and operated, from its 1958 inception, right up to the time it was acquired by KET in 1998. It used the callsign WFPK-TV from 1958 to 1969. It was a member of NET from 1958 until 1970.
3. The Broadcasting and Cable Yearbook says WKPC (then WFPK) signed on September 5, while the Television and Cable Factbook says it signed on September 8.
4. WKPD was a commercial independent station, using the callsign WDXR-TV, from its 1971 sign-on to 1981.

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 shows, 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 percent 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.

Station City of license Channels
First air date Call letters'
ERP HAAT Facility ID Transmitter Coordinates
WKMJ-TV Louisville 68 (PSIP)
38 (UHF)
September 2, 19705 Kentucky
Media and
61.6 kW 218 m 34195 38°22′1.6″N 85°49′53.8″W

5. The Broadcasting and Cable Yearbook says WKMJ signed on August 31, while the Television and Cable Factbook says it signed on September 2.

KET KY (formerly KET3), which is available on digital, formerly broadcast all of the state network's educational programming throughout its broadcast day. Beginning in January 2008, however, KET3 became KET KY, "The Kentucky Channel," broadcasting programs by, about and for Kentuckians 20 hours each day. KET KY also broadcasts coverage of the Kentucky General Assembly while it is in session, combining the services previously offered on KET5 and KET6. It broadcasts 24 hours a day in standard definition.

Since the fall of 2009, from 1am until 5am Eastern Time, KET ED provides a feed of K-12 educational programming on KET KY. KET ED (formerly KET4), formerly offered KET's digital service in prime time and the Annenberg Channel at other times and was available on digital. At one time, this service was on KET's fourth subchannel. In Louisville, this service was also available around-the-clock on WKMJ's digital signal, but has since been discontinued, due to PBS's increase of fees for the usage of the national PBSHD channel. Instead, KET reinvested the money for new digital equipment, plus the ability to present local and delayed programming in high-definition. This increase of PBSHD fees has also led to KET scheduling HD programming themselves, rather than merely picking up the national feed. Today, KET ED has combined the educational programming from ITV, Annenberg and KET's own professional development series and PBS' educational content, all of which was previously seen on either KET3 or KET4.

KET5 and KET6 featured live coverage of the Kentucky House of Representatives and Senate respectively, while the state General Assembly was in session. These channels were eliminated in January 2008 when KET realigned its digital programming. As mentioned above, coverage of the General Assembly, while reduced significantly, is still carried on KET KY.

KET was affiliated with NET when the state network was first established on September 23, 1968.

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.