Islands without Cars

Ditch your Dodge for this unique new series

Doesn’t everyone long for a simpler time? Much as we love our smartphones, online streaming, Instagram — and InstaEverything™ — there’s something so very evocative of the image of ourselves immersed in a life unplugged and unencumbered by a car.

And so it is in Islands without Cars with Kira Hesser, which takes a rare and whimsical look at life without cars, buses, or trains. The series airs Thursdays at 10:30/9:30 pm on KET2 and Sundays at 11:30/10:30 pm on KET.

On small, remote, and sparsely populated isles scattered throughout Europe, most of the inhabitants travel and transport goods by donkey, bicycle, and other non-motorized vehicles. It may seem like a bygone era, but for some, it is a modern reality.

Hesser, who calls herself an independent traveler with a love of history, is our youthful and energetic host and tackles the trip with enthusiasm, taking us to the remote islands of Hydra in Greece; Sark, the Channel Islands; Inis Meain in Ireland; Italy’s Aeolians, Zlarin and Krapanj in Croatia; and France’s Porquerroles.

First up is Italy’s Aeolian Islands, a volcanic archipelago renowned for perfect weather, beautiful scenery, deep caverns, blue grottoes, steep cliffs, ancient ruins, thermal healing resorts, and volcanoes — including one of the most active on the planet, erupting almost continuously for the last 2,000 years!

Next it’s off to Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, dotted with over a thousand unique and beautiful islands. Zlarin is known for its beautiful coral, and the even smaller island of Krapanj is celebrated for its history of sponge harvesting. You’ll also visit  the car-free medieval walled old-town section of Dubrovnik.

On Sark, a ruggedly beautiful island in the English Channel, live 600 people on the last feudal state in the western world. On this trip you’ll see the single-cell jail for drunkards, demonstrations in pottery-making, chocolate-mixing, carriage driving, and cave exploring — and meet a rocking horse carver, a water colorist, and a hotel operator straight out of Fawlty Towers.

And from there it’s on to Ireland’s Inis Meain. According to legend, in the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell, the fanatical Protestant “Lord Protector” of England, gave the Irish Catholics a choice: they could go to hell or go to Connacht. Some went further still  — all the way to three ruggedly beautiful islands off of Ireland’s west coast.

“The Greek Island of Hydra” is an exploration into the lives of American and British ex-patriot writers and artists who have responded to the Siren’s call and reinvented their lives on this tiny, preserved architectural and historical landmark — which also happens to be the only developed Greek island without cars.

Our last stop takes us to France and the island of Porquerolles, which is dotted with five small ranges of hills, lined with cliffs and beaches, and renowned for the best weather in France with 275 sunny days per year.

Have you ever been to one of these otherworldly places — or anywhere just as far from the ordinary? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to tune in for this unique series.

Dropping Back In

KET inspires with new series aimed at adult education

Why do people drop out of school? And why are some dropouts successful in returning to school and continuing their educations against all odds?

KET traveled throughout the country to produce Dropping Back In, which tells inspiring stories of dropouts who turned their lives around — and the people and institutions that helped them move on with their education and lives. The series, airing on PBS stations across the nation, premieres  Monday, Oct. 6 at 9/8 pm on KET.

“The only time I thought about education was about how embarrassing it was to be sleeping on a park bench so close to my elementary school,” says Kellie Blair Hardt in the first program, “Second Chances.”

Kellie Blair Hardt



Hardt’s story is one of more than 40 million — the number of adult Americans who do not have the equivalent of a high school diploma. Some 800,000 young people are added to that number every year.

The U.S. is now 21st — near the bottom among wealthy nations — in terms of our high school graduation rate. Those without a high school degree earn less and by 2018, experts estimate only 10 percent of jobs will be available to those without a high school diploma or equivalent, and almost none of those jobs will provide a living wage.

While they face similar struggles, each person’s story is unique, complicated, messy, revealing, and compelling. And these stories are an important part of Dropping Back In.

Today, Hardt is an alternative education teacher in Prince William County, Va. In 2013, she was one of only five teachers honored with the National Education Association (NEA) Horace Mann Award for Teaching. She is currently pursuing her doctorate degree.

Learn the reasons people drop out and challenges they must overcome — and meet people who have gotten their high school equivalency credential.

A fond farewell to Dave

‘Kentucky Life’ host hangs up his hat — and walking stick

After 15 years, KET and Kentucky Life are saying good-bye to its longtime host, and his pooch pals. Dave Shuffett has announced his retirement.

“My 22 years in state government and 15 years at KET have afforded me wonderful opportunities,” Dave tells his viewers. “I’ve seen the beauty of the commonwealth and met the people who make our state such a special place.”

Since 1999, Dave has traveled the state for KET’s Saturday-night staple, where in any week you can experience stories that run the gamut from moonbows and mountain music to the Civil War and sheep shearing. He’s also hosted, with Amy Hess, KET’s Kentucky Collectibles since it premiered in 2012.

Dave will continue to be on the air this fall as Kentucky Life begins its 20th season Saturday, Oct. 4 at 8/7 pm on KET.

As loyal Kentucky Life viewers know, Dave hails from Greensburg along the Green River, a place he’s revisited often in stories through the years. He’s a graduate of Murray State University, where he majored in communications. From there he spent six seasons as host and producer of Kentucky Afield, the state’s longest running series, produced by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife and airing on KET.

In 1994, Dave was selected by the League of Kentucky Sportsmen and the Kentucky Wildlife Federation as its Kentucky Conservation Communicator of the Year. Dave’s work has attracted numerous other awards too, including preservation and conservation awards, and regional Emmy nominations as a KET host.

In 1995, he went on to pursue his own television series and production company, Outdoors with Dave Shuffett, where Dave brought his enthusiasm for the wonders of nature to a national audience.

Any mention of Dave would be remiss without talking about his canine companions, which brought animal lovers throughout the state a lot of joy as his loyal sidekicks. Most recently, golden retriever Toby was by his side. Sadie, an adopted border collie, traveled with Shuffett for thousands of miles on the program until she passed away at age 15. Charlie, another golden, was top dog for several seasons.

“Dave has tirelessly traveled from one end of Kentucky to the other, and everywhere in between, to bring viewers many of the wonderful and unique people, places, and stories that make Kentucky so special,” said Shae Hopkins, KET executive director. “Dave will be greatly missed.”

We know you’ll miss Dave too — and join us in wishing him all the best in his retirement. But he’ll be with us on the air throughout this season — and for years to come in encore presentations of his friendly, enthusiastic take on our Kentucky life.

So what adventure awaits Dave next? He says, “I plan to pursue some other writing and media projects … and catch up on chores! The homestead is fallin’ apart. The fence needs paintin’, the house needs stainin’, the stalls need fixin’ and the horses need ridin’.”

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