& Chief Storyteller
New York City
Kirk grew up in Washington, D.C., where the U.S. Senate had a Sunday softball team. Jack Kennedy, then a young Massachusetts senator, played on the team. Since Kennedy had a bad back, he would recruit kids to run bases for him. Kirk was one of the runners. Whenever Kirk made it to first base, the senator would call, “Great hit, wasn’t it?” And if Kirk was tagged out, Kennedy would observe, “If you’d run faster, it would have been a hit.” This was Kirk’s early political training.
In the ’90s Kirk ran a Miami company producing magazines for the Caribbean cruise and tourism industry. He was invited to join a small official mission to Cuba to talk about the future of tourism. The late Sen. Eugene McCarthy, who represented Minnesota in the U.S. Congress for more than 20 years and was the Democratic presidential candidate in 1968, headed the delegation. Late one night, McCarthy, Kirk and one other member were summoned to the presidential palace for a chat with Fidel Castro. Kirk was impressed by the minimal security─one old man with an ancient rifle guarding the approach. Castro was resplendent in hand-tailored fatigues. He was also charming, joking about how Kirk’s Russian-Jewish ancestors had been responsible for creating communism, not him.
In the early 1970s, Kirk was back in his hometown, the nation’s capital, playing rock ’n’ roll and writing about the arts for The Washington Star. The music scene in the bars of Georgetown was jumping in those days. Cass Elliot was in a band that would become The Mamas and the Papas; Asleep at the Wheel was reinventing country. Another rising star with a great voice and a guitar was Emmylou Harris. Kirk and his brother Eric, calling themselves Beastly Times, opened for Emmylou on a number of weekend gigs at Mr. Henry’s, a popular Georgetown bar. (Eric is now the Ernest I. White Professor of American Studies and Humane Letters at Cornell University, where he teaches American literatures, American Indian literatures and federal Indian law. Emmylou’s latest album is Old Yellow Moon.)
LIE! While Kirk has always toyed with running for political office, he’s never even been in Idaho.
Kirk is an award-winning journalist, author, editor, publisher and innovator in nontraditional marketing and custom-created content and a leading expert in the profitable use of content to extend brands, win customers, create loyalty and build sales. His career began in Detroit, where he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his investigative reporting at the Detroit Free Press and winner of the Society of Professional Journalists’ prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Bronze Medallion for investigative reporting, along with many other national and regional journalism honors. He also has broad experience in regional magazines, having been the editor and/or president of five major titles, including Chicago magazine.