Fall 2017 Undergraduate Commencement Speaker

Kevin Cooney, retired television news anchor, KCCI 8 News Des Moines

Kevin Cooney is a retired broadcast journalist who earned distinction as the longest-serving news anchor in Des Moines television history. He is a 1974 graduate of Iowa State University with a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism and mass communication. Cooney grew up in Des Moines, Iowa, in a family of journalists. His father, Jim, was a reporter and city editor for the Des Moines Tribune. His mother, Patrica, was the first female copy editor for the Register and Tribune and a feature writer for the Des Moines Register.


Cooney studied under Jack Shelley, professor of journalism at Iowa State, in the early 1970s and spent most of his professional career with KCCI 8 News in Des Moines. During his early years as a reporter, he authored many stories under the “Kevin Cooney Covers Iowa” franchise.


After a short stint as a reporter/anchor in San Jose, California, Kevin and wife, Mollie, (ISU, BS JLMC ‘75) returned to Des Moines and KCCI in 1982 where Kevin anchored the evening news broadcasts for 33 years before his retirement in 2015. He signed off for the final time following the KCCI 8 News at 10 broadcast on November 24, 2015.


During Cooney’s tenure, KCCI 8 News was the No. 1 rated news station in Iowa and the No. 1 rated CBS affiliate in the nation.


Among Cooney’s most notable stories include his live reports from Germany in 1991 on the release of hostages Terry Anderson (an Iowa State classmate and KRNT colleague) and Tom Sutherland (Iowa State alumnus) from captivity in Lebanon – a first in Iowa broadcast history.


He was the backbone of KCCI’s marathon live coverage during the historic floods of ’93 that left Des Moines without water for two weeks.


Cooney also covered the inaugurations of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. He interviewed President Clinton in the White House just hours after the 1995 Oklahoma City federal building bombing and interviewed President Barack Obama twice.


During his career, Cooney mentored countless journalism interns, many from the Greenlee School; he served on the Greenlee Advisory Council; and remains an outspoken proponent for ethical and responsible journalism.


Cooney is the 1994 recipient of the James Schwartz Award from Iowa State University for distinguished service to journalism; the 1999 Jack Shelley Award for his role as a leading broadcast journalist in Iowa; the 2014 Silver Circle, a lifetime achievement award from the Upper Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences; and he was named the 2015 Iowa Broadcasters Association Broadcaster of the Year. He’s also earned numerous Iowa Broadcast News Association, Associated Press, Emmy, and Edward R. Murrow awards.


Now retired, Kevin and Mollie enjoy time with their family which includes three grown children and four grandchildren.