KET Celebrates 50 Years

Congratulations to KET for 50 years of changing lives in Kentucky

When O. Leonard Press moved from New England, along with his wife, Lillian, in 1952 to take a position in the University of Kentucky’s Radio Department, television was still a relatively fledgling technology. Still, pioneers like Len Press saw its great potential. During a trip to Eastern Kentucky, Press learned that the rural Lott’s Creek Community School in Cordia received no state funds and lacked accreditation. “Of course, I’m thinking, ‘Wow — if we could get television in there, they could have the courses they need for accreditation!’” Press recalled in a 2011 interview. He came away determined to help address the educational challenges of the area.

At that time, all over the nation, people were making the connection between television and education. Here in Kentucky, Press’s idea was not only to improve basic education in the mountains but also to uplift the entire Commonwealth. “Across Kentucky, I saw the heroic struggle to provide equal education thwarted by the barrier of unequal resources,” he said. “It was essential that we harness the power of television to assure the education and enrichment of our people so they would have every possible opportunity. We could not afford to accept less.”

Press traveled the state marshalling support for a new television network. He plucked the ear of elected officials, he got educators on his side. In 1962, the General Assembly established the Kentucky Authority for Educational Television and named Press its first executive director.

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