His soothing voice is one that enters into millions of living rooms across America on Friday nights. He paints
a picture of situations that many people will encounter and deal with. He provides insight into human nature and thoughts that we haven’t really thought of before.
It may seem like too much for one man to do, but John Quinones is humbled by his experiences in life and in creating “What Would You Do?”. On Sept. 21 in Doermann Theatre at the University of Toledo, Quinones began his lecture by telling the audience of the last time he was in the Toledo area.
“It’s a very nostalgic trip for me to Northwest Ohio because the last time I was in this area, I was 13-years-old,” Quinones said. “In the summer of that year, we were migrant farm workers, my family and I. And we picked tomatoes in Swanton, Ohio.”
Quinones was the first lecturer of the year as part of the Jesup Scott Honors Distinguished Lecture Series. His talk lines up with National Hispanic Heritage Month, which as a fifth-generation Mexican American, Quinones understands has importance in his job as a journalist and a television anchor.
“I’m proud of the show because it shines a light on all these issues, like racism, bullying, discrimination and gay bashing at a time when this country needs that kind of beacon, that light and hope, more than ever before,” Quniones said.
Quinones grew up in San Antonio and always wanted to be a television journalist. His teachers discouraged him, suggesting other classes such as woodworking.
“My own teachers judged me by the color of my skin and the accent in my voice,” Quinones said.
After a series of steps and hurdles, Quinones was working for a news station in Chicago when he thought of an incredible journalistic stunt that would show the struggle of Mexican immigrants. He traveled down to Mexico, bought fake papers and was smuggled across the border. Quinones then traveled back to Chicago and exposed a restaurant that was not paying Mexican immigrants and practically holding them hostage.
Quinones’ exposure of this situation earned him an Emmy and a job with ABC. He worked as a foreign correspondent and enjoyed the work, but wanted to do more. Quinones wanted to create longer segments that really meant something. This is where “What Would You Do? was born.”
From the show, Quinones said he has learned more about human nature than we normally see.
“The issues we tackle on the show really do happen in real life,” Quinones said. “They happen in the shadows when no one is looking. We bring it out into the open, and after all, what's the true measure of a person’s character? It’s not what we do when everyone is watching; that’s easy. It’s what we do when no one is watching.”
Quinones said the creation of his show came from his own experiences with discrimination, although now when he is around, everyone is on their best behavior.
“It's the show that asks the question, when any sort of injustice happens, do you step in or do you step away?” Quinones said.
Abel Castillo, second-year biology/pre-medicine student, was a member of the lecture audience along with his parents. He said he enjoyed hearing what Quinones had to say.
“Being a Hispanic myself, we have a lot of parallels of the stories between my parents, his parents,” Castillo said. “It’s very cool.”
Castillo said that Quinones and his show help people to come away with a very clear message: be open-minded.
“To really stand up and speak out if you are uncomfortable with what is happening,” Castillo said. “I think that is really important because we live in a world of relativism and indifference. And I think that it's important that some people take a stance.”