Ken Kolker recently was inducted into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame after more than 35 years as a newspaper and television reporter.
Since joining News 8 in January 2009, his stories have helped lead to change and have won numerous awards, including Michigan Emmys.
His stories prompted Kent County to send the nearest emergency medical help to cardiac arrest calls, even if it means crossing jurisdiction lines; led Michigan prisons to take DNA from prisoners, leading police to solve old murder calls; and led a federally funded battery plant to refund more than $2 million to the government.
Also among his accomplishments: Tracking down a serial killer who had eluded the FBI while at the same time clearing an innocent man; uncovering the shoddy work of housing inspectors; revealing the inaccurate work of courtroom interpreters, leading to changes in state law; exposing police who were “shaking” down black teens without evidence of drug dealing; detailing major flaws in Kent County’s 911 dispatch system; and tracking trains that carried dangerous chemicals on unsafe rails through communities ill-prepared for disaster.
Ken’s work in newspapers won more than three-dozen state and national reporting and writing awards, including the Investigative Reporters & Editors top national prize, the Associated Press sweepstakes award, the Michigan Bar Association Advancement of Justice, the American Bar Association Silver Gavel and the University of Michigan Political Reporting Award.
Ken grew up in West Michigan — in the cities of Rockford and Wyoming. He lives in the Grand Rapids area with his wife, Hope, and five children.