Jim was active in Chicago broadcasting for over fifty years. His broadcasting milestones include: the first to announce, locally, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor; the first to initiate the half-hour news format in 1960 on WGN; the first to launch a morning talk show for adults in 1964; and the first to use a satellite to broadcast live from Rome to Chicago in 1967 for WLS. A former Naval aviator and retired Captain, USNR, Jim was a compiler of oral histories for the Museum of Broadcast Communications and was President of Broadcast Veterans of Chicago.
Merri Dee was born in Chicago, Illinois on October 30, 1934. Dee was raised in Chicago and New Orleans, Louisiana, where she developed a passion for journalism during school. She began her long relationship with broadcast media in 1966 as a radio personality. Based upon the strength of her reputation, Dee moved to WGN-TV in 1972, where she gained experience in newscasting as a staff announcer and talk show host.
At the height of her very promising career, Dee was confronted with a personal tragedy when she and a talk show guest were kidnapped from the television station and nearly killed by the attackers. Not one to remain a victim, however, Dee looks upon that incident – which changed the course of her career and life – as a challenge to grow. Lobbying state and city politicians, Dee assisted in the passage of Illinois' first Victims Bill of Rights law, legislation that has served as a model for other states.
Following the tragic event, Dee became more involved in the administrative aspect of television production and was appointed director of community relations at WGN-TV. In this capacity, Dee served as liaison between WGN-TV and the many social organizations that compose Chicago's civic community. She received direct feedback from the audience and ensured that the station served the needs of Chicago's diverse populations. Dee also oversaw WGN's public service campaigns. Dee retired as WGN-TV’s director of community relations in the fall of 2008.
Dee is also committed to extensive charitable work, including fundraising on behalf of the homeless and the victims of domestic violence. Her most passionate endeavor, however, is on behalf of Illinois orphans. Dee has garnered an exceptional amount of attention for the issue of orphans through telethons and fundraisers. Through her efforts, she has sought to increase the number of children who get adopted each year. In 1998, Illinois Governor Jim Edgar commended Dee and WGN for increasing the number of adoptions in the state by more than 50 percent. Also a strong advocate for education, Dee has hosted the United Negro College Fund Telethon for several years. She has also hosted the prestigious Easter Seals Telethon. She is one of the founders of a Chicago-based organization called Athletes for a Better Education.
She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the AT&T Outstanding Community Role Model award, the North American Council on Adoptable Children Outstanding Leadership Award, the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago Woman of the Year Award, and the Chicago Academy of TV Arts and Sciences Lifetime Achievement Award.
Text from History Makers: https://www.thehistorymakers.org/biography/merri-dee-40
John Richard Drury (January 4, 1927 – November 25, 2007) was an American television news anchor from Chicago, Illinois. Drury is most known for serving as anchor on Chicago news broadcasts which included: WGN-TV from 1967 to 1970 and again from 1979 until 1984; WLS-TV from 1970 to 1979 and 1984 until his retirement in 2002. Upon his retirement came the news that he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Drury was a leading activist for ALS research and was a spokesperson for the Brain Research Foundation. Drury died from motor neurone disease in 2007 at age 80.
In 1955, Drury's broadcasting career began at WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee. He anchored and reported on the 10 p.m. news until leaving in 1962. He then joined WBBM-TV.
He both anchored and reported news for them until 1967. During this time, he served as Fahey Flynn's first co-anchor. Following his stint at WBBM-TV, Drury joined WGN-TV, where he served as the 10 p.m. news anchor until 1970. He then switched over to WLS-TV for his first stint on the ABC-owned station. He anchored their news until 1979 before going back to WGN-TV to be their anchorman again. Drury stayed at WGN until 1984 during which he won numerous awards such as the Chicago Father of the Year and also a Chicago Emmy® Awards for Individual Excellence in 1983. In August 1984, he rejoined WLS and took over the anchorman job for their 10 p.m. newscasts. He won two more Chicago Emmy® Awards for Individual Excellence in 1987 and 1988. Drury retired in 2002 after 40 years in the business. Drury won one more Chicago Emmy® Award in 2003 for his news report, "9/11/02 The New Homeland."
Text from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Drury_(television_anchor)
Bill Kurtis graduated from the University of Kansas in 1962 with a bachelor's degree in journalism.
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.
Rachel was a writer, producer and director of educational films, as well as a Board member for the International Film Bureau of Chicago. Considered to be the first “woman television director” in Chicago, her career began in 1940 on the staff of the prestigious national program, Quiz Kids. When it moved to television in the 1950s, she learned her television craft from the ground up. In 1953, she turned her talents from national programming to writing, producing and “DIRECTING” education programs for local broadcast. Her Totem Club brought quality production to children’s programming. She created To Include Handicapped Children for both deaf and hearing children. It was the first program to use captioning and other devices to reach the hearing impaired.