Kurtis launches documentary project



Television journalist Bill Kurtis of Sedan has a new project starting, traveling the nation to chronicle positive stories from the recession.

At a campaign event for his sister, 4th District congressional candidate and state Sen. Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita, Kurtis said he is in discussions with a major financial services firm that wants to underwrite a series of documentary profiles and town meetings to find the silver lining in the economic downturn.

“We’re going to try and find the positive stories of people who have changed their lives for the better,” Kurtis said.

Some possible examples might be people who took advantage of being laid off to start their own business or do volunteer work.

Kurtis said he thinks a lot of people are tired of being battered by news of people beaten down by the economy and want to see people picking themselves up.

“As a journalist, I can just sense the feeling is out there,” he said.

Kurtis is a former CBS television anchor who now owns his own production company specializing in documentaries for the A&E cable network. Recently, he appeared in a well-known series of television ads for AT&T wireless services with star athletes Michael Phelps, Floyd Mayweather Jr.  and Andy Roddick.

He also founded a 10,000-acre ranch at Sedan that provides grass-fed gourmet beef through the Internet and supermarkets across the nation. But despite his upbeat outlook, Kurtis said he is worried about the future of Sedan and towns like it as young people leave and the population ages.

“If it becomes a retirees’ town, it will pass away as they pass away,” he said.

One opportunity to turn things around in rural Kansas is tourism, Kurtis said.

He said he sees an opportunity among empty-nesters who want authentic travel experiences rather than Disney World.

“We took our kids there, we want to experience America,” he said.