Early life and education
A native of Southern California, Kerley earned a bachelor's degree from California Polytechnic State University. During college, Kerley, who grew up near Disneyland, worked at the theme park's Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.
Kerley began his broadcasting career in radio, as the news director for KCPR-FM in San Luis Obispo. He then shifted to television, first at nearby KCOY in Santa Maria as 11 p.m. anchor and 6 p.m. sports anchor from 1978 to 1981 (see him in blooper tape on YouTube from that era). He then transferred to KTVB in Boise, Idaho, for two years and then to Seattle for fifteen years. He started at KIRO-TV in 1983, moved to rival KING-TV in 1986 for nearly six years, then back to KIRO until 1998.
In November 1998, Kerley joined WBBM-TV in Chicago. In early 2001, he became the station's lead news anchor—anchoring the 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts—after previously having filled in as the station's 10 p.m. anchor in late 2000. In late 2001, however, amid declining ratings, the station announced that it planned to demote Kerley. In early 2002, Kerley was officially replaced by Antonio Mora. And in March 2002, Kerley chose to quit instead of remaining at the station for the final months of his contract.
In February 2004, Kerley joined ABC News as an overnight anchor and reporter for World News Now, World News This Morning, and ABC News Now. "I consider ABC to be the premier broadcast journalism company in the country, possibly the world," he told friends, according to a February 11, 2004 Chicago Sun-Times article. "Quite an adventure lies ahead." Since joining ABC News, Kerley has traveled to Baghdad, covered Hurricane Katrina, and covered the 2005 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
- Boss, Kit (April 9, 1992). "9-year Seattle television veteran is the latest casualty at KING-TV". Seattle Times. Retrieved September 2, 2013.
- Johnson, Allan (1 December 2001). "Slumping WBBM reassigns Kerley". Chicago Tribune.
- "Former Idaho journalists" (PDF). Ridenbaugh Press/Northwest. Retrieved September 2, 2013.