StoryTech Episode Two – The 16mm War with Ted Koppel

Jeff Kofman talks to Ted Koppel about the first televised war. Listen now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and Amazon Music or read the full transcript below.
January 31, 2023

Episode two of StoryTech takes you back to an iconic moment in history. As Jeff speaks to legendary news broadcaster Ted Koppel about his experiences covering the Vietnam war and how 16mm film brought the conflict to American TVs for the first time. 

This is an enduring story from a controversial moment in history where reporters like Ted worked with very cumbersome technology to show a war without censorship. A landmark achievement for journalism that impacted TV news reports both internationally and at home - forever changing the course of world history.

You can listen to episode two of StoryTech free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and Amazon Music right now. Or if you’re more of a reader, just scroll down for the full episode transcript and highlights from this week’s episode.

This week’s storyteller – Ted Koppel

Ted Koppel is an Emmy-Award winning reporter, former host of ABC News Nightline and one of the most famous broadcasters from the golden age of TV news. 

At just 26 years old, Ted landed in Vietnam in 1967 and saw firsthand one of the most important transitions in television technology. A technological leap that helped Vietnam become the first war to be broadcast into American living rooms, giving war correspondents like Ted the ability to not just tell, but show audiences what life was like on the frontline. 

Episode transcript and highlights

This 38 minute podcast episode was transcribed in 13 minutes by Trint’s super-powered AI. View the full transcript below or jump ahead to notable points from Jeff’s interview with Ted Koppel.

  • 00:25 – Meet Ted Koppel 
  • 04:43 – Chronicling the Vietnam War on 16mm film
  • 10:56 – TV vs radio: the race to breaking news
  • 18:18 – Vietnam, the first televised war
  • 24:18 – Broadcasting a war without censorship
  • 31:27 – Technologies that defined the 16mm war


[00:00:02] Jeff (V/O): This is StoryTech. I'm Jeff Kofman. 

[00:00:06] Jeff: Well, hello. 

[00:00:07] Ted: How are you? 

[00:00:08] Jeff (V/O): Back in the fall, I went to visit an old colleague from ABC News. 

[00:00:13] Jeff: I was doing the numbers, and I think I haven't seen you since you left in 2005. You left ABC? 

[00:00:19] Ted: 2005. 

[00:00:20] Jeff (V/O): A lot of Americans will know this voice. 

[00:00:23] Ted: Can I offer you a cup of coffee? 

[00:00:25] Jeff (V/O): This is Ted Koppel, the former host of ABC News Nightline and one of the most famous broadcasters from the golden age of TV news. 

[00:00:34] Jeff: That's a lot of Emmys you got up there. Wow. 

[00:00:39] Ted: You have them out there because my wife wouldn't let me put them in the house. 

[00:00:42] Jeff (V/O): Ted is too modest to say it, but he has 25 Emmys. Souvenirs of his 42 years as a reporter, foreign correspondent and anchor at ABC. I met Ted at his home on the shores of the Potomac River outside Washington. A restored barn is his office. 

[00:01:01] Ted: Tell me again, while I'm making my coffee. Tell me what this project is? 

[00:01:08] Jeff: So the project is called StoryTech. 

[00:01:12] Jeff (V/O): I came here to talk to Ted about how technology shaped storytelling in his storied career. Before he became an anchor, Ted was a foreign correspondent like me, and he saw firsthand one of the most important transitions in television technology. He was a young, very young reporter covering the Vietnam War - the first war to be broadcast into American living rooms. Here's one of Ted's early reports on ABC. 

[00:01:40] Archive Broadcast: Drastic measures were taken to force a break between the Viet Cong and the people. When the Viet Cong evaded pursuit, people who sheltered them were removed to government camps. Their homes burned, their livestock killed, and the rice in their fields destroyed. 

[00:01:55] Jeff (V/O): As you're about to hear, it is a great story how Ted and other reporters worked with very cumbersome 16 millimeter film. But the enduring story of that war is the impact of those TV news reports and how they changed the course of world history. 

[00:02:13] Jeff (V/O): From Antica Productions, Trint and the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in cooperation with WAER Syracuse, an NPR member station. This is StoryTech. 

[00:02:32] Jeff (V/O): This is a personal journey I want to share with you. I spent the first 30 years of my career as a broadcast journalist, foreign correspondent and war correspondent, and the last eight years as founder and CEO of Trint - a tech company focused on transcription and streamlining the workflow of storytelling. We have seen so much technological change come at us so fast. The idea behind this podcast is to explore how those changes have shaped what we watch, what we read, and what we listen to. Today - the 16 millimeter war. 

[00:03:23] Jeff: So let's begin. Do you want to put up two mics? 

[00:03:26] Jeff (V/O): Ted Koppel landed in Vietnam in 1967. He was just 26 years old. 

[00:03:32] Ted: You know, the American involvement was already, technically speaking, three or four years old. It wasn't exactly a news story, so I knew pretty much what to expect. My greatest concern I must tell you when I landed in Vietnam, and one of the first questions I put to some of the first military guys that I saw was, is it better to keep your uniform tucked into the boots or tie them outside the boots because the concern was leeches. I had read some articles in Time magazine about how the leeches were just awful. And you spent a lot of time, you know, marching through rice paddies, you know, going through areas of water. 

[00:04:28] Jeff: And what was the answer before we move on? 

[00:04:31] Ted: The answer was whatever works for you, just try it. 

[00:04:34] Jeff: And were there a lot of leeches? 

[00:04:36] Ted: I don't recall ever being leeched. 

[00:04:43] Archive Broadcast: This is the story of the Vietnam War. Not the story in terms of importance, but because what you're about to see in these next few minutes is probably as typical as anything of the Vietnam War. 

[00:04:58] Jeff: So let's talk about how you chronicled the Vietnam War. You had a very different toolset than I did and you did when we covered, say, the Iraq war 20 years ago. And when we think of our war. You're looking for a photograph? 

[00:05:17] Ted: Yeah, I thought. I thought I had one. 

[00:05:22] Jeff: What is the photograph? Show us. 

[00:05:27] Jeff (V/O): At this point, Ted gets out of his chair to get a photograph. A black and white image of a very young Ted Koppel in a khaki shirt and trousers holding a microphone. He is standing next to a burnt out truck, flipped on its side. 

[00:05:42] Jeff: Wow. You were a kid. What a great picture. 

[00:05:45] Ted: I was a kid. 

[00:05:47] Jeff (V/O): In the picture, a cable connects Ted's hand mic to a soundman who has a mixer hanging from his neck. It's about the size of a toaster, and it's connected to a very large film camera perched on the shoulder of the cameraman. The camera has two big round disks on top of it for the film reels - like Mickey Mouse ears.

[00:06:07] Jeff: Is that, that's the equipment? So there are two, there are two guys shooting. 

[00:06:13] Ted: This man was Vietnamese, the soundman. And the cameraman is Korean. He is now in his early nineties, lives in Australia and he and I still, still communicate. But you can see he's carrying a large Auricon camera and that was good for 10 minutes worth of film. We live in an age now where you just let the camera run, right? I mean, you shoot it all. You couldn't possibly shoot it all if you only had 10 minutes worth of film. Now, we're carrying the equipment and I had a backpack, and in that backpack would be three or four rolls of additional film. 

[00:07:08] Jeff: Each one 10 minutes. 

[00:07:09] Ted: Each one 10 minutes. But in order to get that roll of film into this camera, the cameraman had to take the camera apart. And inside a black bag without being able to see what he was doing because he didn't want to expose the film to light. He would unscrew one of these circular. 

[00:07:37] Jeff: Those are film canisters, film reels? I guess one is empty and one is full? 

[00:07:41] Ted: One is empty, one is full. And as soon as the empty one is full and the full one is empty, he would take it off, put it inside a black bag, unscrew it. And by feel - you couldn't see it - but simply by tactile he would exchange the exposed film for a fresh roll and put the fresh roll in. And then we would be carrying those cans of film, of exposed film with us for the rest of the days. Sometimes if we were on an operation, you know, there'd be there'd be no way to get the film back to Saigon until we got back either. If we were up north in Danang for example, covering the Marines, then we would give that film to a marine who was heading back to Saigon. We would get on the phone, which in and of itself was pretty trying in those days. 

[00:08:47] Jeff: We're talking phones with wires or radio phones? 

[00:08:50] Ted: No we're talking phones with wires that are, you know, sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. 

[00:09:00] Jeff: And who are you calling? 

[00:09:02] Ted: I was trying to call the office. 

[00:09:04] Jeff: This is ABC Saigon. 

[00:09:05] Ted: ABC Saigon. And we would tell ABC Saigon, you're going to send someone out to Tan Son Nhut to the airport, and there will be a marine carrying our film coming in on a flight, hopefully in the next six hours or so. That film would then get transferred to another flight from Saigon to Tokyo. In Tokyo, we'd have someone from the Tokyo bureau transfer that film onto a flight to Los Angeles, and then Los Angeles would be transshipped to New York. In New York, a motorcycle courier would pick that film up and the film, I don't think I have one here, we had these onion skin bags which had ABC News all over. 

[00:10:05] Jeff: We used them for videotape even when I was at ABC. How many days later are we? 

[00:10:11] Ted: Probably at least two. Sometimes three. 

[00:10:17] Jeff (V/O): And that is before the film even gets developed in a bath of chemicals. 

[00:10:22] Ted: And the processing took time. And then an editor has to hang up the strips of film, sort of going through a viewing, a scanning machine looking for the scenes that he or she wants. Physically cuts them, physically hangs them with clothespins from wires over a bin, and then those pieces of film are physically glued together. 

[00:10:56] Jeff: This is breaking news in slow motion. 

[00:10:58] Ted: This is breaking news in slow motion. And here's the really bad part that you had to consider. Radio is not inhibited technologically the same way. When you were in Saigon, you can get on the line. I mean ABC would buy a line from New York to Saigon, as I recall a couple of times a day. And you could feed the live descriptions that you had done or just the spots that you had written. 

[00:11:37] Jeff: Right. This is Ted in Saigon. 

[00:11:39] Ted: This is Ted in or this is Ted in Da Nang. That gets on the air probably the same day. Sometimes it gets on the air within half an hour. So as a correspondent covering radio and television, you're in the curious position of being not exactly in competition with yourself, but you know that the the headline of your story has already been on the air all over the ABC Radio network. Like two days before your film shows up. So when you're writing your script, you have to be conscious of the fact that people already know how many Americans died in this particular engagement. What the, you know, what the hard news headline of the story was. So you would have to write the story in a somewhat different way. 

[00:12:45] Jeff: How do you do that? Because you're in the jungle, you're shipping something off that is two, three, four days from air. 

[00:12:52] Ted: Well two, let's say two days. 

[00:12:54] Jeff: Okay. But you have to, the hardest thing and you know all of us as reporters have done this is you commit something on camera and you realize you've boxed yourself in because things have changed or it's not accurate anymore. 

[00:13:08] Ted: And so you can't do anything that locks you in, in terms of time, because there's another factor you can't control. What do those idiots back in New York do with your story? Do they put it on? 

[00:13:25] Jeff: You're being polite. 

[00:13:26] Ted: Right? Yes. 

[00:13:28] Jeff: I mean, how do they edit it? What do they leave in? What do they take out? 

[00:13:31] Ted: And when did they know and when do they use it? Do they use it the first day, as soon as it gets in. I mean, let's say there's a there's a big factory fire in Dayton and seven people are killed. 

[00:13:43] Jeff: So it gets bumped from world news. 

[00:13:44] Ted: And it gets bumped from world news because world news doesn't have time for your story that day. And remember your story. The Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, The New York Times. Depending on how many people were along on the operation that you covered, your story has already been out there. 

[00:14:10] Archive Broadcast: Five years of fighting have produced an artificial quiet in the countryside. The roads that had been cut and mined by the Viet Cong are being rebuilt. Bridges blown up to prevent easy access to the old Viet Cong zones are being put back up. It's easy to use American steel and muscle to open the way to the countryside for our allies. But as we turn the war over to the Vietnamese, the question remains whether they can keep the way open. 

[00:14:40] Jeff: What you were doing with film and all your peers at other networks was cutting-edge technology in its time. This was the first televised war. 

[00:14:51] Ted: Right. So the thing you've got going for you is everyone else is talking about it - you're showing it to them. So in writing your story, you have to emphasize what the other people cannot do. Look at this. Watch that. See this. The you know, the fact of the matter is that you've got American wounded. You're showing them. Now, it may be two days old, but it's still the first time anyone has seen them. 

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[00:16:03] Jeff: Did you have a sense at that point how revolutionary this was that covering war and even with a 48-hour, 60-hour delay, that this was a complete revolution in communications? 

[00:16:18] Ted: I wish I could say yes, but I'm not sure I really did recognize it. 

[00:16:23] Jeff: You were after all, 26. 

[00:16:24] Ted: I was 26. And yes, it was revolutionary as we look back on it now. But I'd never known anything else. 

[00:16:33] Jeff: But if you look at previous conflicts, if you look at say how the news from World War Two was communicated to audiences. There was no television. 

[00:16:45] Ted: No, but there was film. 

[00:16:46] Jeff: There were the Movietone and Pathé newsreels. 

[00:16:49] Ted: Exactly. 

[00:16:54] Archive Broadcast: In the European Theater of Operations, Allied power continues to crack down on Hitler's borders. Heavy guns forced the enemy lines to break at Anzio. 

[00:17:04] Jeff: But they were really dated and they were, they weren't journalism in the sense. 

[00:17:10] Ted: They were more dated. Remember, I've just told you my stuff is dated. 

[00:17:15] Jeff: Yeah. 

[00:17:16] Ted: It's only I mean, it's dated two days? Maybe three days? So it's not - this just in. 

[00:17:26] Jeff: And I presume the lag back in World War Two was pretty long. They had to ship it across, it could be weeks. 

[00:17:32] Ted: I mean, as a kid who would go to, I mean, there were actually theaters in the late forties that did nothing but show newsreels. 

[00:17:46] Jeff: With those booming voices. 

[00:17:47] Ted: With those booming voices. And the voice would be from someone who had had nothing to do with gathering the information. 

[00:17:58] Jeff: He was sitting in a sound studio somewhere in New York or Los Angeles. 

[00:18:01] Ted: You know, I mean, these guys were pretty well known. Going to the newsreels, it was pretty exciting stuff. 

[00:18:18] Jeff: Vietnam is often referred to as the first television war. What does that mean? And do you see it that way? 

[00:18:29] Ted: Yes. I mean, it was the first television war in the same way that the Model T was the first automobile. The comparison between the Model T and a 2023, you know Ford, is enormous. Television was important in the 1960s because it brought you the war for the first time. Within a relatively short period of time, within a couple of days. I have no idea how long it took for a film story from the Korean War to make it back from Korea to the United States. And even then we're talking about the early fifties television. There really wasn't any. The first time people would have seen any of that film would have been if they went to one of those Movietone news theaters that I was talking about. Or sometimes when you went to the movies, you'd go see a double feature and there'd be two feature movies. And between those double features, there'd be a Looney Tunes cartoon and a Movietone news. 

[00:19:54] Jeff: And that's Korea. So then fast forward 15 years later, you've got TV coming to people's living rooms as they're preparing dinner. 

[00:20:02] Ted: Exactly. 

[00:20:03] Jeff: And what's the impact of that for Americans watching this war in their own homes? 

[00:20:11] Ted: Well, first of all, if you were going to go to a Movietone theater, you didn't go every day. You might go a couple of times a month to go to the movies. You only saw this material when you went to the movies. Now you're seeing it every day, every afternoon, every evening at 6:30. When you know, Walter Cronkite or whoever it is who was the the anchor at that time comes on. It is as much a part of your life as sending the kids off to school in the morning - at 6:30 in the evening, we're going to see what the hell is going on in Vietnam right now. 

[00:20:58] Jeff: And I'm guessing that that means that people can't put it out of their minds? That it's there, and it's like that distant war. 

[00:21:07] Ted: It's not distant. It's right there. 

[00:21:10] Jeff: And this is new. 

[00:21:10] Ted: It's proximate. That is really what's new about it. The fact that the technology is in the process of changing, the fact that you have gone from black and white silent, to a black and white sound, to color sound - that has less of an impact, although the sound is important, than the fact that every night, every morning, you are seeing video from the war. 

[00:21:43] Archive Broadcast: Five of these people have already been helicoptered back to battalion command. Officially, they are described as detainees. They may be Viet Cong. They may not. About 50 feet in front of them lies the body of a dead VC. He was shot several times as he was about to throw a grenade at some marines. 

[00:22:04] Jeff: And that video, or film as it was, shows American soldiers dying every day. 

[00:22:10] Ted: Well what it shows, remember now, you had a rotation of millions of young American men who were sent over there, many of them very much against their will. And they were there for 18 months and they were dying at an extraordinary rate. 

[00:22:32] Jeff: The image that's in my head as you're talking is of a mother glued to the nightly news because her son is over there. 

[00:22:41] Ted: That's right. 

[00:22:42] Jeff: And she is so worried every day as she sees the body count rise. 

[00:22:48] Ted: Absolutely. And if it wasn't a mother worried about her son, it was you worried about a young friend. 

[00:22:56] Jeff: So everyone feels connected. 

[00:22:59] Ted: And one other thing, let me just, this only just occurred to me. I mean, you have this curious paradox where on the one hand, you have a more sophisticated level of communication than has ever been known in the history of man. You are seeing what's going on over there. On the other hand, what you don't have is what young people today have become all too familiar with, and that is the capacity to communicate yourself with your family. You can't just pick up the phone and call the United States. The only form of real communication was watching that television every evening and sometimes in the morning, because there was just a chance that one of those camera crews would be with your son, your buddies, your nephew, your grandson's unit, and that you would see what was happening over there. So all of it's happening for the first time, you're seeing it in a way you've never been able to see it before, and you're doing it at a time when you can't communicate any other way. 

[00:24:18] Jeff: There's a common theory that the footage of the war showing the brutality of the war changed American opinion, and it turned a lot of people against it. Do you agree with that? Do you buy it? 

[00:24:30] Ted: Well, there's another factor that we have left out in our conversation. And that is unlike World War Two, unlike the Korean War, the Vietnam War had no censorship. So you weren't just seeing stuff from Vietnam that you never would have seen from Korea. You were seeing stuff from Vietnam that wouldn't have gotten past a censor. 

[00:24:58] Jeff: In World War Two. 

[00:24:59] Ted: In World War Two or in the Korean War. 

[00:25:02] Jeff: Because it showed American troops suffering? 

[00:25:04] Ted: Or because it showed American troops brutalizing some of the locals. You didn't want to show your guys doing bad things? You didn't want to show the aftereffects of Mỹ Lai. 

[00:25:19] Jeff (V/O): The Mỹ Lai massacre was one of the ugliest chapters of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. In March 1968, more than 350 men, women and children were murdered by U.S. Army soldiers. Some of the women gang raped and their bodies mutilated. Only one soldier was convicted. Platoon leader Lieutenant William Calley Jr. He served three and a half years under house arrest before President Nixon commuted his sentence. The New York Times broke that story to the American public. 

[00:25:50] Ted: The television counterpart to that was the the Canadian CBS correspondent Morley Safer, showing the picture of a marine with a Zippo lighter setting fire to a bamboo hut, a villager's home. And that was, I mean the impact of that was hard to imagine today where everything is captured on an iPhone. But here, you know, you had to have a correspondent out in the field with a camera crew who got it. 

[00:26:29] Jeff: And a marine dumb enough to commit that kind of war crime with a camera. 

[00:26:34] Ted: A marine who really isn't thinking about. 

[00:26:39] Jeff: Right. Because he doesn't understand the impact of the images. 

[00:26:41] Ted: Doesn't understand the impact of the image, doesn't understand this stuff. What I'm doing right now is going to be in everybody's home. Maybe not tomorrow. It might take two days to get there. But that was the kind of story where it didn't matter that it came two days later. 

[00:26:58] Jeff: The moment that Morley Safer and his team captured that marine setting fire to a bamboo hut, which was not a tactical maneuver, had nothing to do with fighting a war. It was just absolute. 

[00:27:11] Ted: Well, I mean the assumption of the marine, my assumption of his assumption, is that he thought this was a village that harbored the Viet Cong. And if they harbored the Viet Cong, this was a perfectly legitimate target. To burn down their home so the Viet Cong would have no safe haven.

[00:27:34] Jeff: I think, as I recall reading about that incident, Morley Safer was able to show that that wasn't the case and that it was a lot of people died and a lot of suffering. 

[00:27:42] Ted: Whatever. But Lyndon Johnson you know, picked up the phone and called the president of CBS News and tried to get Morley fired. 

[00:27:50] Jeff: Do you think that because of moments like that, do you think that this new form of war coverage, of war reporting and television coming into the living rooms every night turned Americans against the war? 

[00:28:04] Ted: Of course. Sure. There is a reason for censorship. And censorship was not just to prevent the enemy from learning secrets about our forces. Censorship was also designed to make sure that the government, whichever government, whichever administration was in power at that time, was able to shape the narrative of the war. And, you know, when you had good correspondents like Morley Safer out there showing what was really happening - that was screwing things up. 

[00:28:43] Archive Broadcast: No one can say exactly what effect those vivid scenes have on American opinion. 

[00:28:49] Jeff (V/O): President Lyndon Johnson blamed television for contributing to the loss of public faith in the Vietnam War. On March 31st, 1968, he announced he wasn't seeking reelection and that he was scaling back military involvement. The next day, he spoke to the National Association of Broadcasters. 

[00:29:06] Archive Broadcast: And it occurred to me that the media may be somewhat better suited to conveying the actions of conflict than to dramatizing the words that the leaders used in trying and hoping to end the conflict. 

[00:29:31] Jeff: Is that true? Do you think that what he's saying is. 

[00:29:35] Ted: I mean, is television better at conveying action than it is intentions? Of course it is. It's a visual medium, you know. So do we cover wars? Well, I'm not sure that we necessarily cover them well in terms of how accurately we cover them. But do we cover them well in terms of bringing dramatic pictures into the home? Oh yes, extraordinarily. And is it easier to convey those dramatic pictures than it is to convey what it is diplomats are trying to do behind the scenes to bring that war to an end? I think that's self-evident. 

[00:30:25] Jeff: TV has never been very interested in the shades of gray. 

[00:30:28] Ted: I mean, again, when I first came back to the United States, I came back as chief diplomatic correspondent at ABC. And I got on the air three, four or sometimes five times a week. Doing one-minute stand uppers trying to describe precisely what it is Johnson is referring to there. Trying to describe what the diplomats were trying to get done. Were my stories as interesting as reports from Vietnam? Hell no. And today they wouldn't even get on the air. 

[00:31:11] Archive Broadcast: We are not winning in Vietnam now, and we never will unless the government in Saigon earns the support of its own people. This is Ted Koppel, ABC, Saigon. 

[00:31:27] Jeff: Before we wrap up this episode, two questions I'd like to end this podcast with just for for a little fun. When you look at the technologies that you used during that period in the 1960s covering Vietnam, was there a favorite piece of technology? Was there something that you said, wow, this is really incredible that I can use this. 

[00:31:50] Ted: Sony put out, I may be exaggerating slightly, but I don't think so. They put out a new model of the Sony tape recorder. The one that's a little bit bigger than your iPhone is right now. They put out a new model every couple of months. And we correspondents would buy the new model. 

[00:32:18] Jeff: These are compact recorders? 

[00:32:20] Ted: Compact recorders, because (A) because they were so small. And (B) because I can't even think of what some of the gimmicks were that they would attach to these recorders. But you had to have the latest gimmick, and they were pretty inexpensive. 

[00:32:39] Jeff: And you were using these to record interviews, to record notes so you didn't have to write them down or you could hear what people said. 

[00:32:45] Ted: Well, I mean, most mostly were recording interviews. But we also, ABC Radio had an executive by the name of Nick George. Nick deserves a tiny footnote in history because he invented something that was called the ROSER. A ROSER was an acronym for Radio on Scene Report. What Nick realized was that rather than having you come back to the studio. 

[00:33:18] Jeff: Right. 

[00:33:19] Ted: And record a 45 second. 

[00:33:21] Jeff: I know exactly.

[00:33:22] Ted: Radio piece, he'd rather have you on scene. 

[00:33:25] Jeff: The breathlessness.

[00:33:27] Ted: With you know, I'm watching right now as the firemen are trying to climb into the third story window. And one of the firemen now has a woman slung over her shoulder. Oh hell, that's a lot more exciting. 

[00:33:40] Jeff: Than sitting in an airless studio. 

[00:33:43] Ted: Than sitting in an airless studio and later saying - and I witnessed a scene of great heroines. 

[00:33:48] Jeff: And those little mini cassette recorders that Sony was developing in the late sixties. 

[00:33:53] Ted: Those enabled you to do that. 

[00:33:54] Jeff: Right. So when flipped, flipped this to the other side. Was there a technology, at the time, that was just something that was really tough to work with or you really hated because it was so inefficient. 

[00:34:10] Ted: Well, we didn't know any better, but those sound cameras, those Auricon cameras. 

[00:34:18] Jeff: The film, 16 millimeter film cameras. 

[00:34:21] Ted: 16 millimeter film cameras. They were run by a separate battery. I think? 

[00:34:31] Jeff: You're looking at the photograph. 

[00:34:33] Ted: If you look at the photograph, it's a battery. And it probably weighed, five/six pounds? 

[00:34:40] Jeff: Right. 

[00:34:41] Ted: That camera must have weighed, 12/15 pounds. The cameraman I used most often was my Hong Kong bureau cameraman. And I remember whenever we would go into the field, he would hand me his canteen and say, Ted, would you carry this for me? Which was a perfectly reasonable thing to do. 

[00:35:08] Jeff: And it just had water in it. But it was an extra weight. 

[00:35:10] Ted: It was an extra weight. I mean, you know, these guys were carrying roughly 20, 20 some odd pounds through very difficult terrain. You know, the notion that young people today cannot imagine why anyone would have to carry 15/20 pounds of heavy gear in order to record something that then had to be shipped around the world by air and picked up by a motorcycle courier at JFK. And brought back to a studio, so that the film could then be processed and edited and put together for an evening newscast. Why the hell would you do that when you can just go on your iPhone. 

[00:36:03] Jeff: Record live and send it to anywhere? 

[00:36:05] Ted: I mean, the technological breakthroughs of the past 50 years, and that's what we're really talking about here. It doesn't seem that long to me, but it's 50 years. 

[00:36:20] Jeff: Ted, thank you. 

[00:36:21] Ted: My pleasure. 

[00:36:32] Jeff (V/O): That was Ted Koppel. Ted was a reporter at ABC News from 1963 to 1979. He was the host of ABC News Nightline from 1980 to 2005. I joined ABC News in 2001. Reporting for Nightline was one of the highlights of my journalism career. The program was smart, rigorous, creative and fearless. By the way, when I met Ted, we recorded a second interview for StoryTech about the birth of Nightline and the beginning of the satellite age. Watch for that episode coming soon.

[00:37:10] Jeff (V/O): StoryTech is produced by Antica Productions, Trint and the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in association with WAER Syracuse, an NPR member station. And an interesting footnote. Ted Koppel studied speech and political science at Syracuse University, graduating in 1960. He was also a disk jockey and program director for WAER. Syracuse University currently houses the Ted Koppel collection in their library, featuring over 6,000 episodes of Nightline, as well as other content related to Ted's career. 

[00:37:47] Jeff (V/O): Our senior producer at StoryTech is Kevin Sexton. Our associate producer is Emily Morantz. Stuart Coxe is the president of Antica. Our executive producers are Laura Regehr and me, your host, Jeff Kofman. Mixing and Sound Design by Mitchell Stuart. Our theme music is by Josh Spear. Archival audio of Ted in Vietnam is provided courtesy of ABC News. 

[00:38:12] Jeff (V/O): If you have story ideas, suggestions or thoughts, you can send me an email at If you like this show, you can help us grow by telling people about it. It's easy. After all, if Ted could get his film halfway around the world and on TV in the 1960s, you can text a friend or post a link on social media. And please, don't forget to subscribe.

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