Russ Ptacek, one of the Kansas City area’s leading investigative reporters at NBC affiliate KSHB, will be leaving the station after about 5 1/2 years to assume a new position with WUSA-TV in Washington, D.C.
He will officially start at WUSA on February 27.
Tony Botello of tonyskansascity.com broke the news earlier tonight on his site.
Ptacek joined WIBW in Topeka while still a student at the University of Kansas and was there for four years before founding his own news organization, News TV Corporation, where he produced news stories for 10 years before joining KSHB in August 2006.
He’s currently in DC looking for a place to live and still juggling major investigations yet to air at KSHB.
“This is the job of a lifetime and I couldn’t turn it down,” Ptacek told Bottom Line in an exclusive interview. “I’ll be helping WUSA build a new investigative unit. They already have great people in place and we’re in the middle of hiring other key players.”
It was not an easy decision for Ptacek to decide to leave KSHB.
”Leaving KSHB is tough,” he says.”The 41 Action News investigative team is the best I’ve ever seen. The unit is only going to get stronger in Kansas City, and I’m disappointed I won’t be part of the growth.”
Two major stories Ptacek has focused on involved health problems experienced by workers at the Bannister Federal Complex and the disappearance of Kara Kopetsky.
“I worry about Bannister and Kara Kopetsky,” he revealed. “Those are two incredibly important Kansas City stories the media hasn’t covered responsibly.
“I feel a sense of dropping the ball without those cases solved. I know KSHB will run with it. I hope the Star and the other stations will help.”
He feels he is leaving KSHB in good hands.
“We’ve got an incredible new unit manager, and between Keith King and Ryan Kath, it’s unlikely viewers will notice a difference in KSHB’s bite,” he says.
“I wouldn’t have had this chance if Scripps and KSHB hadn’t given me the resources to do what I do. I’m leaving humbled and very thankful.”