Bill Kurtis was born on September 21, 1940 in Pensacola, Florida to Wilma Mary Horton and William Kuretich, a US Marine Corps brigadier general and decorated veteran of World War II. His birth name is William Horton Kuretich.
At the age of 16, Kurtis began working in radio at his local high school, Independence High School. Later, he graduated from high school and attended University of Kansas with a B.S. In journalism in 1962 and earned his law degree from Washburn University School of Law in 1966. While in law school, he worked part time as WIBW-TV in Topeka, Kansas. He decided not to pursue a career in law.
On June 8, 1966, Bill Kurtis was studying for the bar and decided to leave early to help a friend as anchor at WIBW-TV for the 6 o’clock news. Man, that was a big life-changing moment. Severe weather was approaching Topeka, so Kurtis stayed to update some weather reports. At 7:00pm, while on the air, a tornado was sighted by WIBW cameraman Ed Rutherfod. Within a minute another sighting was reported, Kurtis warned the apartment complex is wiped out. Kurtis’ abruptly reported, “ For God’s sake, take cover!” From that moment on, the broadcast team stayed on TV for 24 solid hours. His TV station became a communications hub for emergency operations. The experience forever changed Kurtis’ career path from law to broadcast news. Within a fast 3-months, after seeing his work covering the tornado, WBBM-TV in Chicago hired Kurtis which started his 30-year career with CBS.
Kurtis covered many historical, tumultuous years of the late 1960s including the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert Kennedy, 1968 violent Democratic National Convention, Charles Manson, Angela Davis trails and so much more.
Today, Kurtis covers documentary style shows such as American Justice, Cold Case Files, NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. All of this, after his long run as a revered anchor for CBS Morning News. In summary, just helping out a friend one night changed the trajectory of Bill Kurtis’ life from law to broadcast journalism. Who knew what a difference a day makes? 24 little hours…like the song!.
Be mindful of your experiences!
Dena Dodd Perry, Yogashero.com