They’re the tops!

Sing along to the music of Kentucky’s own Hilltoppers


In the 1950s, The Hilltoppers was one of America’s most popular singing groups. Their romantic love songs, beautiful harmonies, and youthful enthusiasm captured the hearts of fans around the world, Over the course of their career they had 21 songs in the Top 40, musically and culturally bridging a time between the Big Band sound and the arrival of rock ’n’ roll.

The KET documentary The Hilltoppers tells their remarkable story and showcases some of the great music that made the group a popular sensation. It premieres Monday, Oct. 24 at 9/8 pm on KET.

The group was made up of four young men who met at Western Kentucky University — Billy Vaughn and Don McGuire were from Kentucky, Jimmy Sacca and Seymour Spiegelman of New York. The group took its name from Western’s athletic teams nickname (and the group wore beanies and Western letter sweaters in many of their performances).

A demo they recorded on campus of a song Vaughn had written called “Trying” came to the attention of Randy Wood, who had a small record label called Dot Records.  It quickly become a smash hit, and the next thing the group knew they were singing for a national audience on Ed Sullivan’s Toast of the Town. Life had changed forever for these four college students.

KET interviewed the only living original member of the group — Don McGuire, who now lives in Lexington — as well as Ann Sacca, the widow of the lead singer and one of Sacca’s sons.

Also featured are Kentucky writer Bobbie Ann Mason, who founded The Hilltoppers fan club, and Ed McClanahan, another prominent Kentucky writer whose life and work was influenced by the group.

The program features footage of The Hilltoppers performing on popular TV variety shows of the time, along with home movies, family photos, and rare unreleased songs.

Make your summer spectacular!

Spend Sunday, Aug. 28 with great programs

It’s summertime, and the living is easy — especially if you have KET to inspire, enlighten, and entertain you.

Join us on Sunday, Aug. 28 for “Summer Spectacular,” a fantastic day of programs — and an opportunity to become a member of KET or make a special gift.

Tickets are available to Mannheim Steamroller and Joe Bonamassa concerts with your donation.

Make your gift online at or by calling (800) 866-0366.

I Miss Downton Abbey
KET 9/8 pm

Revisit treasured moments from the unforgettable Masterpiece Classic series in this retrospective of the most successful British drama ever!

This program includes new behind-the-scenes clips and interview footage with the cast. Revisit the series’ serpentine story lines, spectacular locations, stunning costumes, and all the rest which won our hearts for six seasons.

Inside Poldark 
KET 10:30/9:30 pm

Relive the thrilling first season of the swashbuckling romantic series with hints of what’s to come for the dashing Captain Ross Poldark. Featuring cast and creator interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and the spectacular Cornish coastline.

The Highwaymen Live at Nassau Coliseum
KET2 1:30/12:30 pm
KET 6/5 pm

Join Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson — “the Mount Rushmore of country music” — for this live concert recorded in 1990. The Highwaymen perform classics like “Big River,” “Me and Bobby McGee,” and “Always on My Mind.”

Summer, Surf & Beach Music We Love
KET 3/2 pm
KET2 8/7 pm

Hit the sand and the sea with songs from legendary artists of the 1960s and ’70s with this sun-drenched salute to the greatest sounds of surf guitar rock and pop tunes. Highlights include “Surfin’ USA,” “I Get Around,” “Wipeout,” “California Dreamin,’” “Under the Boardwalk,” and much more.

Carol Burnett’s Favorite Sketches
KET2 4:30/3:30 pm
KET 7:30/6:30 pm

Join beloved funny lady Carol Burnett as she presents her own personally selected favorite moments from her long-running variety series featuring hilarious sketches like  “As the Stomach Turns,” “The Dentist,” with new dentist Tim Conway, who accidentally injects himself with Novocain; and “Went With The Wind,” with Carol as Starlet O’Hara.

Joe Bonamassa: Live at the Greek Theatre
KET2 9:30/8:30 pm

Guitarist Bonamassa pays tribute to the “Three Kings of the Blues” — Albert, B.B., and Freddie King — in this 2015 concert at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles.

Mannheim Steamroller 30/40Live 
KET 10/9 am
KET2 3/2 pm

Celebrate 30 years of musical holiday magic and 40 years of groundbreaking compositions with this milestone special from the American group known for their blending of classic music and rock.

Join us for this Summer Spectacular day of programming. And thank you for supporting KET.


KET productions and programs nominated for 14 Regional Emmy Awards

The Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences has nominated KET productions and programs for 14 Regional Emmy Awards.

KET imageThe awards recognize excellence in the areas of local news, programming and individual achievement and are one of the industry’s highest honors.

“These Regional Emmy Award nominations are a testament to KET’s individual and team efforts to deliver the highest quality programming to our viewers,” said KET Executive Director and CEO Shae Hopkins. “


Gary Pahler – “Marty Brown” | Kentucky Life – Arts/Entertainment
A look at the comeback aspirations of Brown, whose career in the country music industry stalled in the 1990s after just one single on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts.

Matthew Grimm, Nick Helton – Kentucky Muse: Kentucky Chautauqua – Arts/Entertainment
The program examines how the Kentucky Humanities Council tells Kentucky’s story and makes history come alive in its Kentucky Chautauqua program, following actors as they go through the audition and extensive preparation project to join the program.

Paul Smith – “Sultana Disaster” | Kentucky Life – Magazine Feature/Segment
The story of what remains the worst maritime disaster in U.S. history when the steamboat Sultana exploded and sank on the Mississippi River on April 27, 1865, killing 1,800 – almost all of them former prisoners of war returning home from the South.

Steve Shaffer – “Abandoned: Sherman Cahal” | Kentucky Life – Magazine Feature/Segment This segment highlights the works of photographer Sherman Cahal and his passion for capturing images of abandoned places.

Gary Pahler – “Rudell Stitch” | Louisville Life – Nostalgia Program
A profile of the former professional boxer who, at the height of his career, died trying to save a friend from drowning in the Ohio River. He is one of only four people to have received two prestigious Carnegie Hero Medals for heroism, and at the time of his death, was ranked second in the world in the welterweight class.

Paul Smith – “Himlerville” | Kentucky Life – Nostalgia Program
This segment took viewers to the abandoned coal town of Himlerville, established in 1919 by the Himler Coal Company. In 1928, as Himler Coal went bankrupt, the town suffered a devastating flash flood, causing many residents to flee. Today, the Martin County Historical Society and other local groups are working to preserve what remains of Himlerville, including the once-majestic Himler family mansion.

Steve Shaffer – “American Graduate Champion: Chenoweth Allen” – Interstitial
A profile of a KET American Graduate Champion, individuals recognized for committing their time, skills and resources to ensure young people succeed, playing active roles in improving educational outcomes for students — and creating positive environments daily for youth in their communities.

Amy Hess, host of KET’s Kentucky Collectibles, was also nominated in the Program Host/Moderator/Narrator Category for her composite hosting roles with KET as well as her Beloved Productions television program The Local Traveler, which airs on other Kentucky media outlets.


In addition to the above KET productions, the following programs that air or aired on KET were nominated for Regional Emmy Awards:

  • kNOwMORE Nonprofits “Music Works” segment, Prosper Media Group, Inc.; Kyle Lake, Samuel McGhee – Education/Schools Program
  • kNOwMORE Nonprofits “The Point ARC” segment, Prosper Media Group, Inc.; Kyle Lake – Societal Concerns
  • Bluegrass & Backroads “Zoo Dentist Tom Clark” segment Kentucky Farm Bureau; Matt Hilton, Bob Shrader – Magazine Feature/Segment
  • Milton-Madison Bridge: History on the Ohio, Doe-Anderson – Public/Current/Community Affairs PrograM
  • Tim Farmer, Tim Farmer’s Country Kitchen, Tim Farmer Productions – Program Host/Moderator/Narrator
  • Tim Farmer’s Homemade Jam show open, Obie Williams Motion and Graphic Design
  • “These awards emphasize public media’s critical role in providing engaging, educational programming into homes, classrooms and communities throughout Kentucky,” said Hopkins.

    The Ohio Valley Chapter includes 13 television markets from a four-state region, including parts of Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana and Kentucky. The awards ceremony will take place August 6, 2016 at the Lawrenceburg Event Center in Lawrenceburg, Indiana.

    600 Cooper Drive, Lexington, KY 40502 (859) 258-7000 (800) 432-0951