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, 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, 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, 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. Kurtis has also served as the host of A&E's AmericanJustice – the longest running non-fiction justice series on cable. Cold Case Files® was nominated for 2004 and 2005 Primetime Emmys for Outstanding Nonfiction Series. 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 Warhols' album released by Capitol Records.
Kurtis is also an author. The Death Penalty on Trial: Crisis in American Justice (PublicAffairs) is his most recent book, which explores 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, 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 Ranch 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.