Paul Jurack - Editor
July 24, 2012 by Nicole V. Rohr
Ask Paul Jurack how long he has been at WYCC PBS Chicago, and you’ll get a surprising answer. Jurack, currently an editor and formerly an engineer at the station, has been a part of the team for 29 years. He has survived a lot of change during that time, too: technology shifts, new management, as well as marriage, the birth of three children, divorce, and a near-death experience. Jurack has a youthful spirit about him, however, rarely letting on that he has been through so much.
“If they had a party with everyone I’ve known here [at WYCC], we’d probably have 200 to 300 people,” Jurack said. “It’s amazing to me. I want to tell my kids, ‘Make sure what you’re doing is important to you, because time flies.’” He explained that he has always been interested in show business, that he played mandolin and guitar and was involved in high school theatre. A career in broadcasting allowed Jurack to be technical and creative simultaneously, so he set off on his path in 1978. His first job was working as a master control operator at an ABC station in Rockford, Ill.
“I was 19, and directors would be yelling at you, ‘C’mon, c’mon, c’mon!’ You learn quickly to either do it or it just drives you crazy. But I just loved it because you were constantly doing something,” he said, fidgeting in his seat a little as he talked. He started at WYCC PBS Chicago as a master control operator on Jan. 3, 1983, and was an engineer at the station from 1985 to 1995.
Jurack said that he applied for an open video editing position at WYCC in 1995, and he got it. The day before he took the job, the chief engineer at that time walked into the room, slapped a newspaper down on the desk, and said, “Find me the engineering jobs in here.” Jurack recalled seeing listings all over the newspaper. The chief engineer then said, “Okay, find me the video editor jobs. You really want to do this?” Jurack chuckled and said, “One of the first things I learned was how replaceable I was as an editor.” He snapped his fingers and said, “No matter how good you are, there’s someone else.”
He knew his career change had been the right move when the first non-linear systems were being installed in 1998. The same chief engineer put him in charge of configuring and training, and that’s when Jurack “fell in love” with the production side.
And although retirement is right around the corner, Jurack has had a tough year. He suffered a separated shoulder, concussion and broken ribs in February 2012 when a car accident caused his Jeep Cherokee to roll over. He had shoulder surgery and is now in physical therapy twice a week. Jurack said he is a “work in progress.”
Jurack now talks about plans for opening a small business and continuing freelance after he retires from WYCC.
“The one quote I’ve kept with me so far is: ‘Managing people is the most important thing in managing a small business,’” he said. “And I think that translates to my career to at Channel 20. It is all about people. It’s collaboration. You have to be good at working with people, and I think I’m pretty good at it. I’m a people guy.”