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Larry King

Broadcasters' Hall of Fame

Once I worked for Associated Merchandising Corporation at 1440 Broadway. And that was a company that factored the sale of goods, and you had to call up and get credit lines. I was a mail clerk. But in that building was WOR. And WOR was on the 22nd floor, and we were on the 3rd floor. And almost five or six times a day I would take the elevator up to the 22nd floor and pretend that I was an announcer. Like going down in the elevator to go out to lunch. And sometimes when I'd get on the elevator, some announcers would walk on. And I'd hear them talk, and I just wanted to do that. I just wanted to be that.
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Larry King

Broadcasters' Hall of Fame

When I broke in, in 1957, you didn't have to have gone to college. It was wide open. Now it's a very "in" field. So you're up against strong competition. So the first thing I would say is, it doesn't matter where you grew up. If you grew up in Indiana, or Mississippi, or New York, or you grew up poor, or rich, you've got to want it. You've got want it real -- every one of my friends who are successful wanted. If they didn't know what field they wanted, they knew they wanted to be somebody. That great Marlon Brando line in On The Waterfront , "I could have been a contender!" We wanted to be that. We had a high ratio of success orientation. One of my jokes is, even our criminals went to the chair. We didn't have guys do two to five. Come on! We didn't have no petty larceny. These guys were heavyweights. Tony Mancuso died in the electric chair. He was one of our heroes. I mean, he was a gutsy guy.
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Larry King

Broadcasters' Hall of Fame

I know guys in medicine who are disappointed in medicine. Guys in law who would give it up. Guys in business who say, "I wish I could do something else." I never knew a broadcaster that wanted to make a mid-life career switch. There's something about it. It's an art form that is always as good. In other words, I'm having as much fun today as I did when I made $55 a week, because it is as much fun. I mean, the names are bigger, the show is worldwide, but basically, I get a chance -- and any broadcaster gets this, if you're co-hosting a show, if you're broadcasting a game, if you're doing anything -- you've got a royal pass onto life in the broadcasting business. If you're a disk jockey in Biloxi, Mississippi making a hundred dollars a week, you're having as good a time as me.
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Willem Kolff

Pioneer of Artificial Organs

Willem Kolff: The first years in Cleveland were very, very difficult. Fortunately, I have many interests, so if I cannot make progress with the heart/lung machine, I can improve the artificial kidney. And, I can also then begin this kidney transplantation, and that's what we did. At that time when we entered the field of kidney transplantation, people did not use cadaver kidneys anymore. And, we proved that if we would take a cadaver kidney, put it in a patient without kidneys and dialyze them with one of these machines, that we could keep them alive long enough so that the cadaver kidney would recover from the rigors it had gone through when its previous owner died. That was very important, and also very fascinating and very beneficial.
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Willem Kolff

Pioneer of Artificial Organs

Willem Kolff: The exciting thing of course, is not so much what people say about it, but to see somebody who is doomed to die, live and be happy. I got a letter three days ago from a woman who I've never seen. And, she wrote me, "Dr. Kolff, I've been on dialysis for 18 years. You see here a picture of myself with my first grandchild. I've had a very rich life, a very full life, and thank you very much." That is the reward, that of course makes you [feel] very good. And, that also sustains you to not pay too much attention to the detractors of what you're doing.
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Wendy Kopp

Founder, Teach for America

Everyone was talking about all of the challenges that exist in our -- particularly urban and rural -- public schools, and particularly about the need for excellent teachers in these schools. And here we had all of these carefully selected student leaders from all over the country, who were all saying, "We would teach. No one's recruiting us to teach." We were known as the "Me Generation." Supposedly all we wanted to do was go work in those firms, go work on Wall Street and such, make a lot of money. And I just knew -- I knew from my own searching, but also from my friends and others -- I just knew I was one of thousands of people who were really searching for something we weren't finding. So that led to this idea: why aren't we being recruited as aggressively to commit two years to teach in our urban and rural public schools as we were being recruited at the time to commit two years to work on Wall Street? And the minute I thought of it, I just became obsessed. I just knew this has to happen. I thought it would have such a huge power for kids growing up today, just to channel all this talent and energy -- that's good enough for the firms on Wall Street -- but into our highest-need schools. And at the same time, I thought it would have this kind of larger power. That we would be influencing the priorities and the consciousness of all these future leaders. And I had this idea that this was going to change the consciousness of the country, and generate a belief that we need to do something to bridge the disparities that exist in our country.
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Wendy Kopp

Founder, Teach for America

Wendy Kopp: I just felt like the timing was absolutely perfect for this, and I just thought it had to happen. The mood on college campuses was really so conducive to this. I myself and I ended up pursuing the idea of actually teaching in the New York City public schools, and that also contributed to my realizing this is actually it could work. But I was still trying to figure out, "What do I want to do?" and that was the one thing I could think of that was inspiring. So I just knew, for this generation, this is what we want to do. Secondly, there were huge needs which enabled the whole thing. There have never been headlines like this since. Just the level of teacher shortages in the big urban areas was overwhelming. They were starting -- New York, L.A. -- with 1,200 teacher vacancies, et cetera. And there were various business executives in corporate America who had made this big pledge to say, "We're going to take on the American education system. We want to improve it." So it just seemed like the perfect time, and it seemed like if we passed that window of opportunity, it might never happen.
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