San Antonio native John Quiñones delivers new season of What Would You Do?

Episodes of the new season of What Would You Do? air at 9 p.m. Sundays on ABC.

click to enlarge John Quiñones is a Brackenridge High School and St. Mary's University graduate. - Courtesy Photo / ABC
Courtesy Photo / ABC
John Quiñones is a Brackenridge High School and St. Mary's University graduate.

Over the weekend, ABC News correspondent and San Antonio native John Quiñones returned for a historic 16th season of What Would You Do?

The hit hidden-camera series delivers a televised social experiment by putting unsuspecting people in different scenarios to see how they will react to conflict in a public setting.

Quiñones, 71, a Brackenridge High School and St. Mary's University graduate, spoke to the Current recently about the feedback he's received about the series over the years. He also touched on how his upbringing made him relate to some of the scenarios.

Episodes of the new season of What Would You Do? air at 9 p.m. Sundays on ABC.

Did you ever think a show like What Would You Do? would be entering its 16th season when you first started?

Early on, I thought we would probably run out of ideas. How many can you do, right? But my son, who was working on the show back then, said that the sky's the limit. You will never run out of ideas. And he was right. Here we are, 16 seasons later. We took a break during COVID, but now we're back with a brand-new season.

A few years ago, you recorded a scenario in San Antonio, right?

Yeah, it was one of the most powerful ones we filmed. It was at a supermarket where we had a soldier in uniform at the checkout counter buying groceries, but he doesn't have enough money to buy diapers and formula. As he's checking out, he's $17 short. The question was, "Would anybody help him?" I have to tell you, every single person behind him said, "I'll pay for his groceries." It was really touching. We were all in tears.

What kind of feedback have you heard from viewers over the years?

I hear from families who watch the show together. I had a young, Latino teenager come up to me who wanted to thank me for the show. He was gay and didn't think his father would accept him. Then, they watched one of the scenarios together about a gay person coming out to their dad, and that helped him come out to his own dad. That really warms the heart. It's just a reminder that no one should be ever denied. It really shows you the true test of character.

It feels like the mission of the show has been pretty consistent over the years, yes?

I mean, we have to remind ourselves that not everyone is as fortunate or has the same opportunities as the rest of the world. Some people need a little bit of help. Sometimes they just need moral support and someone raising their voice to defend them. That's the beauty of What Would You Do? We're in divisive times in America.

Do you find yourself more or less surprised at the way that people react to some of the scenarios you present?

I'm more surprised, not only by the way they react but by who reacts. We all judge by appearances. We look at someone, and we sort of size them up. That's normal. I think psychologists will tell you that it's embedded in our DNA to be on guard as a matter of survival. It's normal to have the hair on the back of your neck stand up when you feel uncomfortable in certain situations. So, I'm surprised all the time not only by the actions they take to get involved but also by who is taking the action. Sometimes the person you would least expect does the right thing.

Over the years, how often have you put yourself in these scenarios and wondered how you would react yourself?

All the time. When you've been through hardships, that never leaves you. You always remember what it was like not to be able to afford a $15 shirt that you really wanted or having an owner of a store follow you around thinking we're going to steal something or making faces because we didn't speak English perfectly. That kind of pain never leaves you. So, I constantly put myself in those scenarios because I remember what it was like to be marginalized. That's just embedded in me because that's the way I grew up. And I'm so glad because now I can relate and connect with these issues.

You did some amazing work covering the 2022 mass shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde. How did you let the community know that they wouldn't be forgotten?

By being there, and not leaving and always going back. We had the resources at ABC to open an office there and spend an entire year there. Early on, we said we weren't going to leave this little town because the tragedy was so horrific that we need to stay and continue reporting on it. We did more than 300 stories. We had to give it the appropriate time necessary to let [the residents] know that we weren't just there for a short, quick soundbite. We wanted them to know that we really gave a damn.

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