Born in Florida and raised in Independence, Kansas, Bill Kurtis graduated from the University of Kansas with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism. He attended Washburn University School of Law where he was awarded a Juris Doctor degree.
Bill 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, Bill Kurtis was hired by WBBM-TV in Chicago where he was a field reporter and later anchor of The Channel Two News. 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, Bill 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, Bill 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 A&E. In 1990, he founded Kurtis Productions and began producing programs for the A&E Network, including the long-running, award-winning Investigative Reports and Cold Case Files as well as Investigating History for the History Channel. On several occasions starting in 2009, Kurtis appeared on NPR’s news quiz show Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!, filling in for regular announcer Carl Kasell. He replaced Kasell on a permanent basis on May 24, 2014.
In his home state of Kansas, Bill 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 located in the last section of America to enjoy untouched tallgrass prairie, and there he raises free-range, grass-fed cattle which share the land with a wild buffalo herd.
In 2005, Bill Kurtis founded Tallgrass Beef Company to champion the environmental and health benefits of grass-fed cattle ranching and to coordinate the efforts of small grass-fed ranchers across the country. Today, Tallgrass Beef can be found in restaurants, retailers, and on the internet at www.tallgrassbeef.com.
The Red Buffalo Ranch Borders the small town of Sedan, Kansas, where Bill Kurtis 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. Bill 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, Chicago Green City Market, Chicago Botanic Garden, and the Field Museum of Chicago.