A brief biography of broadcast journalist Bill Kurtis
The following brief biography, dated as of November 2005, was supplied by the office of Bill Kurtis on Aug. 25, 2006, in connection with a speech to the Society of Professional Journalists.
An acclaimed documentary host and producer, network and major market news anchor and multimedia production company president, Bill Kurtis has spent the past 40 years creating a body of work that is virtually unparalleled in the field of broadcasting.
Born in Florida and raised in Independence, Kansas, Mr. Kurtis graduated from The University of Kansas with a B.S. in Journalism. He attended Washburn University School of Law where he was awarded a Juris Doctor.
Mr. Kurtis began his television career at WIBW-TV (CBS) in Topeka, Kansas. In 1966, after being recognized for his 24-hour coverage of a devastating tornado, Mr. Kurtis was hired by WBBM-TV in Chicago where he was a field reporter and later anchor of The Channel Two News. Mr. Kurtis moved on to the network level at CBS where he anchored the CBS Morning News and contributed to CBS Reports. During his career as a network newsman, Mr. Kurtis covered such notable stories as the Richard Speck murders and the Charles Manson trial. He is also credited with breaking the Agent Orange story, and the story of Amerasian Children in Vietnam.
Returning to Chicago and WBBM-TV as news anchor in 1985, Mr. Kurtis began his career as a documentarian, traveling to the far ends of the earth for the Peabody Award-winning series The New Explorers, which aired on PBS and A&E. In 1990, he founded Kurtis Productions and began producing programs for the A&E Television Network, including the long-running, award-winning Investigative Reports, Investigating History, American Justice, and Cold Case Files. Cold Case Files was nominated for a 2005 National Emmy for Outstanding Nonfiction Series. Mr. Kurtis also provides satirical narration for the feature film comedy Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, starring Will Ferrell and has provided spoken word elements to the recent Dandy Warhol’s album released by Capital Records.
THE DEATH PENALTY ON TRIAL: CRISIS IN AMERICAN JUSTICE (PublicAffairs) is Bill Kurtis’ new book exploring issues surrounding capital punishment in America. By profiling two murder cases, Mr. Kurtis reveals his change of mind regarding capital punishment.
In his home state of Kansas, Mr. Kurtis is a rancher, radio station owner, art gallery owner, small businessman, supporter of small town America and an active conservationist. His 10,000-acre Red Buffalo Ranch is a working cattle ranch, raising and marketing organic grass-fed beef. The ranch is located in the last section of North America to enjoy untouched tall grass prairie, a personal point of pride for Mr. Kurtis.
The Red Buffalo borders the small town of Sedan, Kansas, where Bill has worked closely with residents to renovate and restore the historic and charming Main Street. Nearby, in his hometown of Independence, Bill and local investors own KIND Radio, the station that gave Bill his first broadcasting job.
Mr. Kurtis is the recipient of numerous humanitarian, journalism, and broadcasting awards including Emmys, CableACE Awards, and the Thurgood Marshall Award for his Investigative Reports installment on the death penalty. He is a published author and a member of the board of directors of several distinguished organizations including The Nature Conservancy, The National Park Foundation, and The Field Museum of Chicago.