Released January 14, 1999
Centre College to Honor KET Pioneer Leonard Press
DANVILLE, KY -- Centre College will honor O. Leonard Press, founding director of Kentucky Educational Television, during a black tie dinner Monday, Jan. 18, preceding a Boston Pops concert on the campus. Press will become only the third person to receive the college's prestigious Jane Morton Norton Award for outstanding contributions to the arts in Kentucky.
The award was given in 1992 to acclaimed folk artist Minnie Adkins and in 1994 to Louisville Symphony Orchestra conductor Lawrence Leighton Smith. The award is given under the auspices of the college's Norton Center for the Arts and carries the name of philanthropist and corporate leader Jane Morton Norton, for whom the Norton Center is named.
The Boston Pops concert is a special event planned in celebration of the 25th anniversary season of the Norton Center. Press will be formally recognized during a dinner preceding the concert.
Press was chosen on the basis of his visionary leadership in the founding of Kentucky Educational Television and his insistence that KET become a medium for delivering significant arts performances to audiences throughout the state. He created an important partnership between KET and the Kentucky Center for the Arts, making it possible to broadcast KCA performances throughout Kentucky.
A graduate of Boston University, Press joined the university staff and produced its first educational television courses during 1948-50. He came to Kentucky in 1952 as a faculty member in the broadcasting program at the University of Kentucky. Press became head of UK's department of radio, television and film in 1958 and remained in that role until his appointment in 1963 as executive director of Kentucky Educational Television. He served KET in that capacity until his retirement in 1991.
Press's dynamic leadership of KET earned him national acclaim. The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) of the U.S. named him 1992 Outstanding Public Television Manager of the Year, and he has received honorary doctorates from Centre and from Morehead State. He is a member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame and has served as chairman of numerous national organizations including the Association of Educational Broadcasters and the Council of State Educational Television Authorities.
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