Robservations: Bill Kurtis gets personal with Chicago magazine

Bill Kurtis/Chicago magazine

Robservations on the media beat:

Donna La Pietra and Bill Kurtis

Bill Kurtis, one of Chicago's most public media personalities for more than 50 years, reveals his private side in the September issue of Chicago magazine. The 77-year-old legendary anchorman, documentary producer, public radio host and commercial voice artist speaks candidly with senior writer Bryan Smith about his heartaches and disappointments, including the loss of his first wife and his 38-year-old son, and his washout as a CBS network news anchor in the 1980s. Smith's illuminating cover story also explores the epic romance and marriage of Kurtis and Donna La Pietra, and tells what goes on at Mettawa Manor, their 65-acre estate and nature preserve in Lake County. And how about that extraordinary, unmistakable voice (a "distinctive blend of gravitas and mellifluousness," as Smith describes it)? “If you wake Bill up at 2 in the morning from a sound sleep, he will sound exactly the same,” La Pietra says.

Jackie Kostek

Jackie Kostek, a multitalented reporter, producer and writer on “The Jam” morning show at Weigel Broadcasting WCIU-Channel 26, has been hired by KTNV, the ABC affiliate in Las Vegas, as a sports and features reporter. Before joining The U in 2015, Kostek was a reporter/producer for DNAinfo Chicago. She also has served as in-arena and digital host for the Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago Fire. “I’m in a very yin yang mix of terrified and elated,” she said of her new job. “Exactly where I like to be.”

K-Love Classics

Educational Media Foundation has launched its new K-Love Classics '80s/'90s/early 2000s-based contemporary Christian classic hits format on WAIW 88.1-FM in Wheaton. EMF purchased the former WETN from Wheaton College in 2017 for its Air1 Christian rock format. Air1 can still be heard on WJKL 94.3-FM in Glendale Heights. Earlier this year the listener-supported network bought Chicago's WLUP 97.9-FM from Merlin Media and converted The Loop to its K-Love contemporary Christian music format under the call letters WCKL.


Chicago's fastest growing radio station has expanded to Milwaukee. Weigel Broadcasting's soft rock/oldies WRME 87.7-FM has replaced Radio Disney on the HD2 signal of Entercom's WMYX. The Me-TV FM format will be promoted on WBME, the Milwaukee affiliate of Weigel's classic TV network Me-TV. “We are excited to partner with a station as successful as WMYX in the great city of Milwaukee,” Neal Sabin, vice chairman of Weigel Broadcasting, said in a statement. “Milwaukee radio is about to experience our unique music format that goes beyond oldies, AC [adult contemporary] and nostalgia, and we couldn’t be more excited.”

Ken Zurski

Ken Zurski, the radio traffic reporter once known as Grant Parke on news/talk WLS 890-AM, has just written his third book. Unremembered: Tales of the Nearly Famous & the Not Quite Forgotten, published by Amika Press, recalls the stories of once-famous people who got involved in "schemes and discoveries, adventures and tragedies." Zurski, who previously wrote The Wreck of the Columbia and Peoria Stories, still reports traffic for WMBD in Peoria.

Thursday’s comment of the day: Alan Solomon: I love Rob Feder's blog. I really, really hated this thread. Really hated it. Everything that's wrong with comment-threads can be found on this particular thread. And no, I won't waste my time, or yours, detailing why.