Bill Kurtis Biography
By Lori Wilson
Bill Kurtis, the anchor of three A&E Network series, including the Emmy Award-winning "Investigative Reports," will deliver the third annual Huck Boyd Lecture in Community Media Sept. 26 at Kansas State University.
The lecture, sponsored by the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media, will be at 1:30 p.m. at Forum Hall in the K-State Student Union.
Gloria Freeland, assistant professor of journalism and mass communications and director of the Huck Boyd Center, said she is excited about Kurtis' lecture because of his successful career in journalism combined with his Kansas background.
"Kurtis will bring to K-State his perspective of many years of international media experience as well as his deep appreciation for small town and rural life," Freeland said.
Although Kurtis, an Independence, Kan. native, left Kansas more than 30 years ago, the state is still an important part of his life.
One of Kurtis' current projects is perhaps his most challenging: the revitalization of Sedan, Kan. After a visit to Sedan, a dwindling community near Independence, Kurtis began buying commercial buildings and turned them into gift shops, restaurants and donut shops.
Kurtis' restoration doesn't stop at rebuilding downtown Sedan. He wants to create a tourism hub, including visits to his 8,000-acre buffalo ranch and a replica of Laura Ingalls Wilder's cabin. The area, which Kurtis' family owns, was once home to the author of "Little House on the Prairie." Kurtis also owns part of the largest tall-grass prairie left on the globe, which he plans to protect.
Kurtis began his broadcast career at WIBW-TV in Topeka as a news reporter after graduating from the University of Kansas.
In 1966, Kurtis earned his break covering a 12-minute tornado that ripped through Topeka, leaving 16 dead and hundreds injured. After learning of the dangerous weather, he shouted a warning that became synonymous with the deadly twister: "For God's sake, take cover." He remained on the air to cover the destruction for 24 hours straight.
After garnering national attention for his lengthy coverage, Kurtis decided to pursue broadcast journalism, even though he had recently graduated from Washburn University's School of Law and passed the bar exam. He began reporting for Chicago's WBBM-TV, then went on to work for CBS' Los Angeles bureau. He also anchored "CBS Morning News" in New York and eventually returned to WBBM as an anchor.
He founded Kurtis Productions in 1990, to produce longer, more in-depth journalism pieces. In 1991, Kurtis began working with A&E on documentaries and investigative series. Besides "Investigative Reports," Kurtis anchors and produces the Peabody Award-winning "The New Explorers," a series dedicated to the discoveries of modern scientists. He also anchors "American Justice," a weekly criminal justice series also on A&E.
(Above text is an excerpt from a story that appeared on the National Center for Community Media web site.
(Lori Wilson is a public relations intern for the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications.)
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