Ken Kolker

Ken Kolker

Inducted 2014

news reporter, WOOD TV Target 8 Investigative Reporter

Ken Kolker’s 35-year career is filled with stories that make a difference to people in a community—such as unreported chemical leaks from trains, uncaring slumlords and bad housing inspectors and the story of Terry Rogan, who was arrested repeatedly for murders he didn’t commit. Kolker found the real killer in an Alabama prison.

Kolker was 18 when he started at WJPW 810 AM in Rockford. He became a part-timer at The Grand Rapids Press after sneaking in the back door. Three years later, he got his first full-time job at The Saginaw News.

His series on deteriorating conditions of houses in Saginaw called, “Saginaw’s Vanishing Neighborhoods,” led to awards from Michigan Associated Press, Investigative Reporters & Editors, American Planning Association, Excellence in Political Reporting, National Association of Home Builders and United Press International. His stories were featured on Forensic Files and the Discovery Channel.

After he returned to the The Grand Rapids Press, police no longer “shake down” black teens and take their money for no reason. Courts no longer use jail inmates as courtroom interpreters.

And, at WOOD TV 8 in Grand Rapids since 2009—ambulances and E-units now cross jurisdiction lines to save cardiac arrest victims; prisons now take DNA from inmates; the FBI was exposed for changing its role in a deadly bank robbery; the L.G. Chem battery plant was forced to repay $2 million in federal funds.