Sterling Quinlan

Station Manager


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his nearly-three-hour interview, Sterling “Red” Quinlan discusses how he began his career in 1947 at WBKB in Chicago -- where he eventually worked his way up to station manager. He describes the rise of the Chicago School of Television, known for programs like Kukla, Fran & Ollie, Studs' Place, and Garroway at Large. He recounts working with many of Chicago television's talents, including Burr Tillstrom, Studs Terkel, and Dave Garroway. Quinlan recalls his status as the most important independent station manager in the country in the '40s and '50s, and speaks of working with Leonard Goldenson, Elton Rule, Edward Noble, and many other television executives. He talks of leaving WBKB in 1965, of consulting for WTTW (Chicago’s public television station), and of working with DG Systems in Chicago. He also discusses the many books he's written, including The Merger, Jugger, The Hundred Million Dollar Lunch, and Inside ABC. Roy Leonard conducted the interview on July 20, 1999 in Chicago, IL.

"Have we made television what it is, or has it made us what we are? It’s both. It’s a mirror of ourselves as a human race and as a species. We're not a perfect race, and television was already reflecting that. And ever since, it has, and should." 

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the Chicago School of Television
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Kukla, Fran & Ollie
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on his encounters with mob boss Tony Accardo
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the formation of ABC and on becoming general manager of ABC's Chicago station
Starling "Red" Quinlan on a broadcasting code of ethics
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the best advice he was ever given
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on his early radio jobs and dealing with the Depression; on early radio programs he listened to; on doing radio in Cleveland
On his experience with World War II; on working in local radio in Cicero, Illinois; on his earliest experiences with television
On his duties in local television; on Kukla, Fran & Ollie

Chapter 2

On the local television scene and WBKB Chicago in the late '40s; on the establishment of the ABC network; on becoming general manager of ABC's Chicago station; on the programming he wanted to do; on clashing with Leonard H. Goldenson and ABC in New York over various issues
On the creativity of local Chicago television in the '50s; on the local series Home Again; on what made Chicago local programming different in the '50s and the Chicago School of Television

Chapter 3

On dealing with the mob in Chicago; on working with William Bell and Lee Phillip Bell; on Studs Terkel's show Studs' Place; on Dave Garroway
On the ABC facilities in Chicago in the '50s; on the local news at WBKB in Chicago; on the tensions between WBKB in Chicago and ABC in New York; on leaving ABC
On writing the books Inside ABC and The Merger; on Leonard H. Goldenson and Elton H. Rule

Chapter 4

On Newton N. Minow's comment, "television is a vast wasteland"; on building the local Chicago station WFLD; on becoming involved with public television
On comparing working in public television to working in commercial television; on woking with the unions; on running up against the Catholic church and on dealing with Chicago politicians; on the then-current state of television news
On the relationships between networks and affiliates; on what made him want to get into television; on his books

Chapter 5

On career highlights and regrets; on the then-future of public television and on the future of network television; on his mentors
On the best advice he was ever given; on how he'd like to be remembered; on various people he worked with during his career

Chapter 6

On Jules Herbuveaux; on consulting on starting a television station in Pakistan; on various people he worked with in his career including Studs Terkel, Burr Tillstrom, and Frank Reynolds
On working with Lee Phillip Bell, William Friedkin, Bob Newhart, and Alex Dreier; on a broadcasting code of ethics
On B-roll pictures from his career: of his book, The Merger; of his novel, Jugger; of his book The Hundred Million Dollar Lunch; of his book Inside ABC; of him as a young man; of Oliver Treyz, Jules Barnathan, and Thomas W. Moore; of Elton H. Rule and Leonard H. Goldenson; of his book jacket picture of The Hundred Million Dollar Lunch
Shows

Kukla, Fran & Ollie

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Kukla, Fran & Ollie

Studs' Place

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Studs Terkel's show Studs' Place
Topics

'The Idiot Box'

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Newton N. Minow's comment, "television is a vast wasteland"

Advice

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the best advice he was ever given

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on his mentors

Criticism of TV

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Newton N. Minow's comment, "television is a vast wasteland"

Historic Events and Social Change

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on his experience with World War II

Pivotal Career Moments

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on his mentors

TV's Golden Age (1940s & '50s)

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the Chicago School of Television

Television Industry

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the creativity of local Chicago television in the '50s and on the local series Home Again
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the Chicago School of Television
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the ABC facilities in Chicago in the '50s
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the local news at WBKB in Chicago
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the tensions between WBKB in Chicago and ABC in New York and on leaving ABC
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on writing the books Inside ABC and The Merger
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on building the local Chicago station WFLD
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on becoming involved with public television
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on comparing working in public television to working in commercial television; on woking with the unions
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on running up against the Catholic church and on dealing with Chicago politicians
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the then-current state of television news
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the relationships between networks and affiliates
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on what made him want to get into television and on his books
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Newton N. Minow's comment, "television is a vast wasteland"
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the then-future of public television and on the future of network television
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the best advice he was ever given
Starling "Red" Quinlan on consulting on starting a television station in Pakistan
Starling "Red" Quinlan on a broadcasting code of ethics

War

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on his experience with World War II

World War II

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on his experience with World War II
Professions

Executives

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the formation of ABC and on becoming general manager of ABC's Chicago station
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on why he was named general manager of ABC's Chicago station
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on building the local Chicago station WFLD
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the best advice he was ever given

Station Manager

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the formation of ABC and on becoming general manager of ABC's Chicago station
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on why he was named general manager of ABC's Chicago station
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on building the local Chicago station WFLD
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the best advice he was ever given

Television Executive

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the best advice he was ever given
Genres

Children's Programming

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Kukla, Fran & Ollie

Comedy Series

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Studs Terkel's show Studs' Place

News and Documentary

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the local news at WBKB in Chicago
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the then-current state of television news
People

Tony Accardo

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on his encounters with mob boss Tony Accardo

Steve Allen

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Steve Allen's role in the local Chicago series Home Again

Fran Allison

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Kukla, Fran & Ollie star Fran Allison

Roone Arledge

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Roone Arledge

Julie Barnathan

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Jules Barnathan
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on a photo with Ollie Treyz, Julie Barnathan, and Thomas Moore

Lee Phillip Bell

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Lee Phillip Bell and on her start as an announcer in Chicago
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Lee Phillip Bell

Alex Dreier

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Alex Dreier

Jim Duffy

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Jim Duffy

Tom Duggan

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Tom Duggan's contributions to the Chicago School of Television's early talk shows
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Tom Duggan's associations with the mob
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Tom Duggan

William Friedkin

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on what he wanted to do in early '50s Chicago television -- a project with director William Friedkin
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with William Friedkin

Dave Garroway

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Dave Garroway

Leonard H. Goldenson

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on his relationship with Leonard H. Goldenson and on clashing with him and ABC in New York over various issues
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the formation of ABC and on becoming general manager of ABC's Chicago station
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Leonard H. Goldenson and Elton H. Rule
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Leonard H. Goldenson
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on a photo with Elton Rule and Leonard Goldenson

Jules Herbuveaux

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Jules Herbuveaux

Frances Horwich

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Frances Horwich of Ding Dong School

Estes Kefauver

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on clashing with Leonard H. Goldenson and ABC in New York over airing the Kefauver hearings

Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on running up against the Catholic church on a story about Martin Luther King, Jr. and on dealing with Chicago politicians

Bill McCarter

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on becoming involved with public television and working with Bill McCarter

Newton N. Minow

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Newton N. Minow's comment, "television is a vast wasteland"

Thomas W. Moore

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Thomas W. Moore
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on a photo with Ollie Treyz, Julie Barnathan, and Thomas Moore

Bob Newhart

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Bob Newhart

Edward J. Noble

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the formation of ABC and on becoming general manager of ABC's Chicago station
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Edward J. Noble

Richard O'Leary

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Dick O'Leary

James C. Petrillo

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on his battle with Jimmy Petrillo and the musician's union

Frank Reynolds

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Frank Reynolds

Elton H. Rule

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Leonard H. Goldenson and Elton H. Rule
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Elton H. Rule
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on a photo with Elton Rule and Leonard Goldenson

Theodore Shaker

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Ted Shaker

Simon Siegel

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Simon Siegel

Fred Silverman

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Fred Silverman

Studs Terkel

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Studs Terkel's show Studs' Place
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Studs Terkel

Burr Tillstrom

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Burr Tillstrom

Oliver E. Treyz

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Oliver E. Treyz
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on a photo with Ollie Treyz, Julie Barnathan, and Thomas Moore

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