I am happy to report that longtime Kansas City Business Journal and Kansas City Star business reporter Dan Margolies will be returning to the journalistic fold on Monday as managing editor of health care coverage at local public radio station KCUR-FM.
Margolies, 61, has been out of journalism the last five years since leaving a job with Reuters in Washington D.C. Since then he has done stints in the insurance business (underwriting media insurance, primarily) and video production.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled…I’m really jazzed,” Margolies said Friday in an interview at Latte Land, 79th and State Line Road.
“I never thought the opportunity (to get back into journalism) would arise again. Here we have a news organization, KCUR, that not only is not shrinking but is expanding its news operation. That appealed to me. I had come to admire KCUR tremendously, and the chance to work with them was too good an opportunity to pass up.”
Margolies said he would do some on-air work but primarily would help oversee and coordinate health news coverage. The plan is for KCUR to collaborate with KCPT-TV; KHI News Service (which is affiliated with but independent of the Kansas Health Institute); possibly KPR (Kansas Public Radio); and other “partners” to establish a solid base for regional health-news reporting.
The job developed over a period of months after Margolies met and spoke several times with a former assistant KC Star business editor, Donna Vestal, who is director of content strategy at KCUR, which is operated by the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Vestal took the lead in developing a project called Harvest Public Media, based at KCUR. It is a collaborative, public-media project that reports on agriculture in the Midwest. Funded by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Harvest Public Media includes six regional NPR-member stations.
Margolies (pronounced mar-guh-leez) said that the “Health Care Hub” project that he will be instrumental in developing will essentially follow the Harvest Public Media template, except that the Health Care Hub will extend its reach beyond public radio stations.
“We will be trying to do with health-news reporting what Harvest Public Media has done with food, agriculture and fuel issues,” he said.
Margolies’ educational and career credentials are superior. After graduating from Shawnee Mission East High School, he went to Washington University in St. Louis, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. He then went to law school at Boston University, after which he practiced law for a few years in Kansas City and Boston.
“I decided it (practicing law) wasn’t the life for me,” he said, prompting a return to Boston University, where he got a master’s degree in journalism in a special, one-year program for people changing careers.
He had his introduction to workaday journalism at a small paper in Rhode Island, and then he returned to Kansas City to take a job in 1984 with the fledgling Kansas City Business Journal, one several business papers that were starting out under the umbrella of American City Business Journals, which has mushroomed into a nationwide network of 40 papers and websites.
He worked at the Business Journal for 15 years before taking a job with The Star in January 2000. He came on board The Star after it had significantly expanded its business coverage, in no small measure because of the Business Journal’s success.
At The Star, Margolies covered legal affairs, courts, financial matters, the media and general business stories. As part of his media coverage, Margolies wrote about significant personnel changes at The Star, including the comings and goings of publishers and top editors.
He left The Star in October 2009 to take the Reuters position, where his main assignment was to cover white-collar crime.
But it didn’t work out.
“I wasn’t all that happy with the nature of wire service reporting,” he said. “It was not a good fit.”
He returned to Kansas City and in 2010 joined some friends in a start-up insurance business called ThinkRisk. After the company was bought out, he went to work for two friends who had started a video production company called Curious Eye Productions in Parkville. Margolies was director of project development.
He stayed with Curious Eye until the KCUR opportunity emerged.
Margolies and his wife, Deborah, live in Overland Park. They have two grown sons, a grown daughter and four grandchildren.
As happy as Margolies is to be back in journalism, Kansas City area residents should be equally gratified that such an outstanding journalist will be back in the field that he was cut out for.
“I want to do something I’m enthusiastic about, passionate about, that I love,” he said.