At his induction into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2013, four months before his death from pancreatic cancer, Chet Curtis ’60 told the assembly, “I looked up the odds of winning Powerball. They’re 1 in 1.75 million. That’s roughly the same odds of a Polish kid from upstate New York named Chester Kukiewicz being honored by you here today.”
As a teenager in Amsterdam, Curtis (who adopted that surname early in his broadcasting career) was already starring in local stage productions. “Chet was a fantastic singer,” said fellow Amsterdam resident Margaret Ackenback-Villanova ’62. “We both had a strong desire to participate in musical theater.”
“But at IC, it was wall-to-wall radio,” said Ted Jones ’60, Curtis’s roommate. “Chet’s journalistic reflexes emerged from his person-to-person, down-to-earth approach to life.”
After graduating, Curtis reported for television stations in Washington, D.C., and New York City before moving to Boston in 1968. There, according to a tribute from WCVB-TV, he established himself as “the voice of the nightly news for New Englanders.”
From 1972 to 2000, he shared that voice with his co-anchor and then-wife Natalie Jacobson. “They were,” said the New York Times, “the de facto first couple of Boston, very likely the city’s best-known conveyors of news since Paul Revere.”
Honored with numerous professional accolades, Curtis was also recognized for his personal touch. A restaurateur, for example, recalled how Curtis often played her establishment’s piano while other diners sang along.
“It’s never been about the senators, the Supreme Court justices, or the CEOs or world leaders I was lucky enough to sit across from,” Curtis told his induction audience. “For me, it was the people kind enough to watch and those with whom I was privileged to work.”