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.

All views expressed by interviewees are theirs alone and not necessarily those of the Television Academy.

"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
04:22
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Kukla, Fran & Ollie
01:10
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on his encounters with mob boss Tony Accardo
03:55
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the formation of ABC and on becoming general manager of ABC's Chicago station
04:42
Starling "Red" Quinlan on a broadcasting code of ethics
01:02
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the best advice he was ever given
03:54
Full Interview

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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
01:12

Studs' Place

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Studs Terkel's show Studs' Place
02:46
Topics

'The Idiot Box'

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Newton N. Minow's comment, "television is a vast wasteland"
03:43

Advice

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the best advice he was ever given
03:54

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on his mentors
01:14

Criticism of TV

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Newton N. Minow's comment, "television is a vast wasteland"
03:43

Historic Events and Social Change

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on his experience with World War II
05:29

Pivotal Career Moments

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on his mentors
01:14

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

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the Chicago School of Television
04:22

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
06:57
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the Chicago School of Television
04:22
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the ABC facilities in Chicago in the '50s
01:36
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the local news at WBKB in Chicago
04:24
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the tensions between WBKB in Chicago and ABC in New York and on leaving ABC
02:48
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on writing the books Inside ABC and The Merger
03:21
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on building the local Chicago station WFLD
02:18
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on becoming involved with public television
04:47
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on comparing working in public television to working in commercial television; on woking with the unions
05:33
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on running up against the Catholic church and on dealing with Chicago politicians
04:21
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the then-current state of television news
02:00
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the relationships between networks and affiliates
01:49
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on what made him want to get into television and on his books
04:10
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Newton N. Minow's comment, "television is a vast wasteland"
03:43
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the then-future of public television and on the future of network television
05:07
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the best advice he was ever given
03:54
Starling "Red" Quinlan on consulting on starting a television station in Pakistan
06:04
Starling "Red" Quinlan on a broadcasting code of ethics
01:02

War

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on his experience with World War II
05:29

World War II

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on his experience with World War II
05:29
Professions

Executives

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the formation of ABC and on becoming general manager of ABC's Chicago station
04:42
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on why he was named general manager of ABC's Chicago station
00:31
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on building the local Chicago station WFLD
02:18
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the best advice he was ever given
03:54

Station Manager

View Profession
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the formation of ABC and on becoming general manager of ABC's Chicago station
04:42
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on why he was named general manager of ABC's Chicago station
00:31
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on building the local Chicago station WFLD
02:18
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the best advice he was ever given
03:54

Television Executive

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the best advice he was ever given
03:54
Genres

Children's Programming

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Kukla, Fran & Ollie
01:12

Comedy Series

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Studs Terkel's show Studs' Place
02:46

News and Documentary

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the local news at WBKB in Chicago
04:24
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the then-current state of television news
02:01
People

Tony Accardo

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on his encounters with mob boss Tony Accardo
03:55

Steve Allen

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Steve Allen's role in the local Chicago series Home Again
00:33

Fran Allison

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Kukla, Fran & Ollie star Fran Allison
00:38

Roone Arledge

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Roone Arledge
00:19

Julie Barnathan

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Jules Barnathan
00:16
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on a photo with Ollie Treyz, Julie Barnathan, and Thomas Moore
00:53

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
04:17
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Lee Phillip Bell
00:44

Alex Dreier

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Alex Dreier
01:00

Jim Duffy

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Jim Duffy
00:08

Tom Duggan

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Tom Duggan's contributions to the Chicago School of Television's early talk shows
02:46
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Tom Duggan's associations with the mob
06:56
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Tom Duggan
03:18

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
05:04
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with William Friedkin
01:05

Dave Garroway

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Dave Garroway
00:40

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
03:38
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on the formation of ABC and on becoming general manager of ABC's Chicago station
04:42
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Leonard H. Goldenson and Elton H. Rule
01:42
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Leonard H. Goldenson
00:50
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on a photo with Elton Rule and Leonard Goldenson
01:20

Jules Herbuveaux

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Jules Herbuveaux
00:49

Frances Horwich

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Frances Horwich of Ding Dong School
00:40

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
00:44

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
04:21

Bill McCarter

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on becoming involved with public television and working with Bill McCarter
04:47

Newton N. Minow

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Newton N. Minow's comment, "television is a vast wasteland"
03:42

Thomas W. Moore

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Thomas W. Moore
00:35
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on a photo with Ollie Treyz, Julie Barnathan, and Thomas Moore
00:53

Bob Newhart

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Bob Newhart
00:55

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
04:42
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Edward J. Noble
01:23

Richard O'Leary

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Dick O'Leary
00:32

James C. Petrillo

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on his battle with Jimmy Petrillo and the musician's union
03:11

Frank Reynolds

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Frank Reynolds
00:57

Elton H. Rule

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Leonard H. Goldenson and Elton H. Rule
01:42
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Elton H. Rule
00:24
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on a photo with Elton Rule and Leonard Goldenson
01:20

Theodore Shaker

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Ted Shaker
01:42

Simon Siegel

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Simon Siegel
00:35

Fred Silverman

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Fred Silverman
00:18

Studs Terkel

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on Studs Terkel's show Studs' Place
02:47
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Studs Terkel
01:27

Burr Tillstrom

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Burr Tillstrom
00:51

Oliver E. Treyz

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Sterling "Red" Quinlan on working with Oliver E. Treyz
00:32
Sterling "Red" Quinlan on a photo with Ollie Treyz, Julie Barnathan, and Thomas Moore
00:53

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