By Justin Henning, class of 2003
Bill Kurtis received the William Allen White award in 1998. Having graduated from the University of Kansas in 1962 with a bachelor's degree in journalism, the award was nothing new to Kurtis.
“This award was it for me,” he said in his 1998 acceptance speech. “I really sort of feel there aren’t any others I need to win.”
Hailing from Independence, KS, Kurtis started his journalism career out of college in Topeka with television station WIBW. His greatest claim to fame came as result of a tornado in 1966. Covering the storm, Kurtis was attempting to remain calm in a dangerous situation. So, in a calm, but firm voice, he told his viewing audience: “For God’s sake, take cover.”
Since then, his career has been a whirlwind of success.In 1973, he joined WBBM-TV in Chicago and became the station's first foreign correspondent. From 1982 to 1985, Kurtis served as the anchor for “CBS Morning News” and produced many hour-long documentaries for “CBS Reports.” In 1990, he began to host and act as executive producer to the science documentary series, “The New Explorers with Bill Kurtis,” which focused on scientists and their quests for discovery. Kurtis also hosts in the "Investigative Reports" series on the A&E television network. He has also become an outspoken advocate for journalistic ethics.
“We have forgotten the basics of journalism. Standards have been dangerously eroded,” he said in his acceptance speech.
In his spare time, Kurtis also works on maintaining and restoring the small town of Sedan, KS, located 40 miles wet of Independence. Kurtis has written articles on the town and has been involved in the restoration of several of the town’s landmarks.
"News has become a profitable business. You have an information flood of the century." — Bill Kurtis, 1998 acceptance speech