Kentucky Educational Television (also known as KET: The Kentucky Network) 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;[2] 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 and studio facilities are located in Lexington on Cooper Drive as adjacent to the campus of the University of Kentucky (however, Kentucky Educational Television has no direct affiliation with the university). KET carries national programming from PBS and American Public Television along with a wide range of local programming, basic skills and workplace education.[2]

History

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.[3]

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. KET finally took to the air on September 23, 1968 with programming relayed on 10 stations. KET was a member of National Educational Television for its first two years of operation, before joining PBS in 1970.

The first instructional television (ITV) program produced by KET was Kentucky is My Land, which premiered in late 1968.[5]

Originally operating only during school hours, within a year it had acquired enough support to begin broadcasting its programming during the evening as well.[3] By 1975, it was showing programming seven days a week.[7]

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.[9]

From 1989 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. KET Star Channels 703 and 704 were also available on C-band free-to-air satellite television users.[11]

In 1998, KET merged with WKPC, allowing it to start a second service on the Louisville station it already owned, WKMJ-TV (channel 68).

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.[13][15]

Programming

Current programming

  • Comment on Kentucky, KET's longest-running public affairs program.[16] 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.[17]
  • Kentucky Life features profiles of people, places an ideas of Kentucky. It is the most popular show on KET.[18]
  • Louisville Life features events, people, and culture of Louisville.[19]

Former programming

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.[20]

Stations

KET

KET, available to all cable subscribers in Kentucky,[21] 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.[22]

As it is one of a few PBS member state networks[2] 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.

Stations
StationCity of licenseChannels
TV / RF
First air dateCall letters'
meaning
ERPHAATFacility IDTransmitter Coordinates
WKASAshland25 (PSIP)
26 (UHF)
September 23, 1968 (1968-09-23)Kentucky
AShland
61.3 kW137 m34171
WKGB-TVBowling Green (Glasgow)53 (PSIP)
48 (UHF)
September 23, 1968 (1968-09-23)Kentucky
Green
Bowling
54.8 kW234 m34177
WCVN-TVCovington (Cincinnati, Ohio)54 (PSIP)
24 (UHF)
September 8, 1969 (1969-09-08)CoVingtoN53.5 kW117 m34204
WKZT-TVElizabethtown (Fort Knox)23 (PSIP)
43 (UHF)
September 23, 1968 (1968-09-23)Kentucky
EliZabethTown
61 kW178 m34181
WKHAHazard35 (PSIP)
16 (UHF)
September 23, 1968 (1968-09-23)Kentucky
HAzard
53.2 kW369 m34196
WKLELexington (Frankfort)46 (PSIP)
42 (UHF)
September 23, 1968 (1968-09-23)Kentucky
LExington
45.8 kW257.6 m34207
WKPC-TV1Louisville (New Albany-Jeffersonville, Indiana)15 (PSIP)
17 (UHF)
September 8, 1958 (1958-09-08)Kentucky
Park
Central
(for Central Park)
-or-
Kentucky
Public
Communications
60.3 kW237 m21432
WKMA-TVMadisonville35 (PSIP)
42 (UHF)
September 23, 1968 (1968-09-23)Kentucky
MAdisonville
55.1 kW298 m34212
WKMRMorehead38 (PSIP)
15 (UHF)
September 23, 1968 (1968-09-23)Kentucky
MoRehead
51.4 kW289 m34202
WKMUMurray (Mayfield)21 (PSIP)
36 (UHF)
October 9, 1968 (1968-10-09)Kentucky
MUrray
56.9 kW187 m34174
WKOHOwensboro (Henderson/Evansville, Indiana)31 (PSIP)
30 (UHF)
December 31, 1979 (1979-12-31)Kentucky
OHio Valley
-or-
Kentucky
Owensboro
Henderson
63.3 kW124 m34205
WKONOwenton52 (PSIP)
44 (UHF)
September 23, 1968 (1968-09-23)Kentucky
OweNton
49.7 kW214 m34211
WKPD2Paducah29 (PSIP)
41 (UHF)
May 31, 1971 (1971-05-31)Kentucky
PaDucah
55.7 kW143 m65758
WKPI-TVPikeville22 (PSIP)
24 (UHF) [23]
September 23, 1968 (1968-09-23)Kentucky
PIkeville
50.4 kW423 m34200
WKSO-TVSomerset29 (PSIP)
14 (UHF)
September 23, 1968 (1968-09-23)Kentucky
SOmerset
53.3 kW429 m34222
Notes:
  • WKPC-TV formerly operated as a standalone station; it was owned and operated by the city of Louisville from its 1958 inception up to the time it was acquired by KET in 1998. It used the callsign WFPK-TV from 1958 to 1969 and served as a member of NET from 1958 to 1970.
  • WKPD formerly operated as a commercial independent station using the callsign WDXR-TV from its 1971 sign-on up to the time it was acquired by KET in 1981.

Coverage areas

StationSignal reach
WKASnortheastern Kentucky (Ashland); Huntington, West Virginia area; Portsmouth, Ohio area [24]
WKGB-TVSouth-central Kentucky (Bowling Green, Glasgow. Cave City, Mammoth Cave area), far north-central segment of the Nashville, Tennessee media market (including Cross Plains, Portland, and Lafayette (via Cable)); also covers the Central City and Beaver Dam areas [25][26]
WCVN-TVmost of the Cincinnati, Ohio market (including northern Kentucky, southeast Indiana, southwest Ohio) [27]
WKZT-TVsouthern portions of the Louisville market (excluding Adair County); also covers Hart County and northeastern Edmonson County.[28][29]
WKHAsoutheastern Kentucky (Hazard, areas between London and Pikeville); Lee and Wise Counties in Virginia [30]
WKLECentral Kentucky (Lexington, Frankfort, Winchester, and Richmond, Danville) [30]
WKPC and WKMJLouisville Metro and surrounding areas (Shelbyville); south-central Indiana (New Albany, Jeffersonville, Salem) [29][31][32]
WKMAPennyrile region of western Kentucky, including Madisonville, Hopkinsville, Central City, Princeton Cadiz, Eddyville; north side of Clarksville, Tennessee [33][34]
WKMR-TVmainly northeastern Kentucky, including Morehead, grade B coverage available in Ashland and Maysville[30][35]
WKMUWestern Kentucky's Jackson Purchase region (Murray, Mayfield, Benton); northwestern Tennessee (including Paris, Union City, Martin, rural western Stewart County)[36][37]
WKOHOwensboro and Henderson; southwest Indiana (including the Evansville area) [34][38]
WKONOwenton, Warsaw, Sparta, areas between Frankfort and Covington, northern suburbs of Lexington, and the Madison, Indiana area [39]
WKPD-TVPaducah area, Jackson Purchase region of western Kentucky; southern Illinois (including Metropolis and Cairo. Covers some of the same areas as WKMU-TV Murray.[37][36]
WKPI-TVsouthernmost areas of the Huntington/Charleston, West Virginia market including the Pikeville and Paintsville area; southwestern West Virginia; parts of southwestern Virginia [40]
WKSOsoutheast central Kentucky (Somerset, Danville, Campbellsville, Columbia, Corbin, London); Pickett, Scott and Fentress Counties in Tennessee (including Byrdstown, Oneida, and Jamestown, respectively) [30][41]

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.

Translators

KET also operates three translator stations:[42]

StationCity of licenseChannels
TV / RF
First air dateERPHAATFacility IDTransmitter Coordinates
W20CT-DAugusta38 (PSIP)
20 (UHF)
October 11, 2007 (2007-10-11)61.3 kW137 m167571
W23DM-DFalmouth52 (PSIP)
23 (UHF)
January 12, 2007 (2007-01-12)0.8 kW86 m167570
W28DD-DLouisa25 (PSIP)
28 (UHF)
January 12, 2007 (2007-01-12)0.11 kW72 m167569

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.[45]

KET2

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.[2] 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.[21] 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.

StationCity of licenseChannels
TV / RF
First air dateCall letters'
meaning
ERPHAATFacility IDTransmitter Coordinates
WKMJ-TVLouisville68 (PSIP)
38 (UHF)
September 2, 1970 (1970-09-02)Kentucky
Media and
Journalism
61.6 kW218 m34195

KET KY

KET KY, formerly branded as KET3, which is carried as the third digital subchannel on 15 of the KET stations and as the second subchannel of WKMJ, formerly broadcast all of the state network's educational programming throughout its broadcast day. In January 2008, KET3 was relaunched as KET KY, broadcasts Kentucky-based issues, heritage, history and culture.[2] 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 broadcasts 24 hours a day in standard definition.[21]

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.

Discontinued services

KET ED

Since the fall of 2009, KET ED provides a feed of K-12 educational programming on KET KY from 1:00 to 5:00 a.m. Eastern Time.[21] 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. In Louisville, this service was also available 24 hours a day on WKMJ's digital signal, but has since been discontinued, 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.[5] Today, KET ED features a mix of educational programming from ITV and Annenberg, as well as KET's own professional development series and PBS' educational content, all of which was previously seen on either KET3 or KET4.[5]

The KET ED programming block on KET KY was ultimately discontinued in the early 2010s, but KET ED remains available as an on-demand video service.

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.

Digital television

Digital channels

The digital channels of most of KET's stations are multiplexed:

ChannelVideoAspectPSIP Short NameProgramming
[5][5][5][5][5][5][5][7][7][7][7][7][7][7]
xx.1720p16:9KETMain KET programming / PBS
xx.2480i4:3KET2PBS Encore / KET2
xx.3KET KYKentucky Channel (5:00 a.m.-1:00 a.m.)
KET ED (1:00-5:00 a.m.)

WKMJ's digital channel uses a different multiplexed lineup from the other fifteen KET stations:

ChannelVideoAspectPSIP Short NameProgramming[7]
68.1480i4:3KET2Main WKMJ-TV programming / PBS Encore ("KET2")
68.2KETKYKentucky Channel
68.316:9KETWRLDWorld

Analog-to-digital conversion

Although the DTV Delay Act extended the mandatory deadline from February 17 to June 12, 2009, KET shut down the analog signals of all 16 Stations on April 16, 2009.[7][7][66] All of the 16 Stations remained on their respective pre-transition channel numbers (WKAS on UHF channel 25; WKGB on UHF channel 48; WCVN on UHF channel 18; WKZT on UHF channel 43; WKHA on UHF channel 16; WKLE on UHF channel 42; WKMR on UHF channel 15; WKMU on UHF channel 36; WKOH on UHF channel 30; WKON on UHF channel 44; WKON on UHF channel 44; WKPD on UHF channel 41; WKSO on UHF channel 14 and WKPI-TV on UHF channel 24). KET began broadcasting in high definition from its new high definition production facility in Lexington on October 1, 2009.[66]

Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display virtual channels for each KET station corresponding to their former analog channels (26; 53; 24; 43; 16; 42; 38; 17; 42; 15; 36; 30; 44; 41; 24; 14 and 22 respectively). In the cases of WKON-TV, WKMJ-TV and WCVN-TV, their pre-transition analog channels were among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition and would not have been used as their post-transition digital channels even if KET elected to relocate any of its stations' digital signals to their former analog allocations.

On January 29, 2014, the United States Department of Agriculture awarded KET a grant worth $357,700, as part of its Public Television Digital Transition Grant program, to upgrade 20 analog microwave relays for WKSO, WKMR, WKHA and WKPI to digital, in order to provide digital television service to rural areas of Kentucky.[9]

Distance learning

KET, among its many educational programs, runs a Distance Learning program. The program features Latin, Humanities, Physics and German language course offerings and offers leveled courses ranging from introductory to advanced placement classes. It's offered primarily for Kentucky high school students for whom it's 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 don't 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 home-schooled children.

The program was established in 1989; 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 and other material were distributed by modem and mail.

Since the mid-1990s, KET's Distance Learning program has migrated from broadcast lessons to instruction via KET's website and multimedia lessons on videotape, CD and DVD.

KET slogans

  • "Where the Vision Continues" (1988, used in honor of KET's 20th anniversary)[43]
  • "Bringing Kentucky Together" (1989–early 1990s) [68]
  • "Simply The Best!" (late 1990s–early 2000s)
  • "Explore Kentucky, Explore the World" (2007–present)