Kentucky Legislature honors KET founder O. Leonard Press

By Theodore Fischer

O. Leonard Press, who founded Kentucky Educational Television in 1968 after lobbying the state legislature for 10 years, has received the 2012 Vic Hellard Jr. Award recognizing his distinguished public service.

KET founder O Leonard Press, pictured in  in 1988. (Photo: Courtesy KET)

KET Founder O. Leonard Press, pictured in in 1988. (Photo: KET)

The award lauded Press was for launching innovative live coverage of state General Assembly in 1978 and for his long track record of supporting programming that exemplified the KET tagline, “Bringing Kentucky Together.”

“We are so pleased that Len Press is being recognized with this award,” said Shae Hopkins, KET executive director. “Through his vision and hard work, he created and established KET as Kentucky’s only broadcast network and one of the nation’s preeminent public broadcasting services. From KET’s inception, Len Press set forth the educational mission and priorities that still serve the commonwealth and nation today.”

The annual Hellard Award, named after the long-time executive director of the state’s Legislative Research Division, has since 1997 honored excellence in public service. “‘Vic Hellard was a special man, and this is a special honor,” said Press, 91, a native of Massachusetts who began teaching broadcasting at the University of Kentucky after World War II. “Even more so since it at least in part recognizes my heartfelt commitment, which Vic shared, to connect Kentuckians more closely with their government through the simple, obvious but hard-won act of just showing it to them.”

This article was first published in Current, Jan. 14, 2003.
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