KET is Dead, Again!

Ivan C. Potter, Publisher West Kentucky Journal

KET is Dead, Again! | KET, television, Comment on Kentucky, public television

After about forty five minutes on the telephone , I just sat there..


Friday night ritual, have a great dinner, lean back in favorite wingback chair, turn on TV to Channel 29, waiting for Comment on Kentucky. Except four weeks ago, that ritual stopped. TV came alive. No sound on Channel 29 from Kentucky Education Network (KET). Also, video was strange, only picture was frame by frame, very slow. All in all, it was a viewing disaster.

Each week tried same ritual. Same results. So today I called KET. Somewhere inside that $80 million dollar KET broadcasting building in Lexington, Ky. someone would feel my pain. After talking to three different people, found my way to Lee Delaney, in the Broadcast Operations Davison.

Lee Delaney is responsible for programming being broadcast out to the world through a system of regional transmitters. Much of the equipment Mr. Delaney and I discussed was built during the early years of the 1990s. He quickly informed me that the problem was not within his system of software or programming flowing through his transmitters. He said all of his transmitters were working fine. He suggested that I visit the transmission staff. So, without any other clue or option, off to see the wizards in the Transmission Division, where I found Don Bailey.

Being a career engineer for KET over the past 26 years, hearing my question was not what he wanted as early morning problem solving. “Mr. Bailey, I have this problem with viewing Channel 29 KET. What is the problem and how will it be fixed?”

In response, he offered this. “The basic problem is with the uplink from transmission point to the satellite. In simple language, KET is getting the signal through to the Direct TV Satellite uplink just fine. Somehow, the Direct TV unit is not working properly.”

So, in my innocent and naive understanding of how modern TV broadcasting works, I utter these words, “If you knew who and where the problem is, why not just ask them to fix it?

“No can do. That would be too  direct action to take. We must make connect with the sub technical group within Direct TV so we all can agree as to the actual problem.” 

His view was that a working group of techs should have meetings to address the problem after careful analysis.

Bailey also informed me that the transmitter in question was about 60 to 70 miles away from KET’s transmitter complex in the Jackson Purchase. He thought it was somewhere in Southern Illinois or Eastern Missouri.

After about 45 minutes on the telephone, I just sat here and pondered the situation. Loss of signal. Loss of service to a whole region. How could this be allowed within the KET operations network?

I remember the old days of KET. When it was built, it was the largest public television network in America. It had 15 transmitters and 8 translators serving over 40,000 square miles in Kentucky. The system signed on the air in 1969 and for 30 years served the Commonwealth with excellent day and night programming.

Much of the earlier greater glory of KET was due to the vision and energy of O. Leonard Press and later Virginia Fox. It seems our existing KET has become part of what passes for current TV world. Little vision or boldness of action seems to be a part of 2013 KET.

I fear that the boldness of action is no longer an option for KET. KET now settles for being in the great middle of operations, afraid to punch outward or onward into that sphere of broadcasting called the future.