One of the gems found in the hundreds of hours of tape recordings of the constitutional convention is this live radio interview that Don McCune did with William A. Egan of Valdez on November 9, 1955—just hours after the delegates had elected Egan as convention president.

Egan was an inspired choice. Other candidates for the presidency, such as Victor Rivers of Anchorage, were far more forceful and polarizing, but Egan’s personality perfectly suited the occasion. A Valdez territorial senator and grocery store owner, and godson of former Delegate Anthony J. “Tony” Dimond, Egan was modest and homegrown to the core; he was the only delegate who had hitchhiked to the convention. Though Egan had never attended college, he had been Mayor of Valdez during World War II, and had served for more than ten years in the territorial legislature beginning in 1940. In addition to a naturally kindly manner that put others at ease, over the years he had acquired a firm grasp of the intricacies of Robert’s Rules of Order, and ran the proceedings with a firm but flexible style that the entire convention came to appreciate. He would prove in the months to come to be both fair and unflappable, with a self-deprecating sense of humor that defused more than one tense moment.

The interview, part of KFAR’s continuing coverage of the convention, reveals Egan’s mild mannered, Clark Kent-like mannerisms, and the casual nature surrounding the proceedings. The best example of the informality might be the woman who interrupts the interview to congratulate the new president on his victory! Egan’s prediction that at most the convention would need only 45-50 days to complete its work demonstrates both how confident the delegates initially were, and how seriously they underestimated the task of creating a constitution. At the end is another snippet of a would-be interview with former Territorial Governor Ernest Gruening, in which he refuses the chance to go on the air. Gruening, the second-longest serving territorial governor in American history, exposed more than any other writer or public speaker the injustices of territorial rule, and so his refusal to say a few words was hardly typical.