CBS Chairman of the Board, Bill Paley
at the dedication of the "new" WCAU Building
May 27, 1952
Here are the remarks of William S. Paley, Chairman of the Board of the Columbia Broadcasting Systgem on Tuesday, May 27, 1952 at the dedication of the "new" WCAU Building on City Line Avenue.
It is with no small amount of personal pride that today I return to Philadelphia, the city where I grew up to pay my respects to WCAU, an old friend.
My relationship with WCAU started with my introduction to the business of broadcasting.
It was just 25 years ago, in 1927, when a WCAU salesman came to call on me at the Congress Cigar Company here in Philadelphia. The station was then located in a hotel in West Philadelphia. It had one studio, not a very large one, and its organization was housed in a few small rooms. I didn’t learn about this until I became a customer, for, to continue the story, the salesman sold me a “bill of goods.” The “goods” consisted of a 24-piece orchestra, a choral group, a male singer, a girl singer, a master of ceremonies, a guest artist, plus the time period, one hour once a week, and the bill for the whole package came to exactly $50. They didn’t give discounts in those days.
Before the opening show, I wired our LaPalina distributors telling them of our new radio campaign. I gave them the wavelength and invited them to send their comments and criticisms as soon as possible. As a result, I became WCAU’s first dissatisfied customer. That poor salesman. It took him a long time to make me understand why distributors in such places as Denver, Salt Lake City and Seattle weren’t able to hear our program.
Well, one thing lead to another and about a year and a half later, the world lost a pretty good cigar-maker, and gained a very frightened broadcasting man.
WCAU has had a glorious history since its early days. The people of Philadelphia and its surrounding territory know well of its many accomplishments, its pioneering spirit, and its consistent determination to serve its listeners with the best in entertainment, information and public service. Broadcasters throughout the country would have no hesitation in naming WCAU as an illustration of broadcasting at its best.
It would take me too long to list WCAU’s achievements. Just let me say that within this year alone, it has received seven important awards, an example of the preeminent position it holds in the world of broadcasting.
Back of all this, of course, are people; and it is to them I want to pay tribute. First, Leon Levy and his brother, I. D. Levy, who managed WCAU’s destinies for many years. Then with the purchase of the station by the Evening Bulletin, the Messrs. Robert and William McLean and Dick Slocum, who, along with their high ideals, brought to WCAU, the finest traditions of newspaper publishing. Next, Don Thornburgh, President of WCAU, with whom I was happily associated at CBS for many years, and whose drive and ability are made so evident by what is happening today.
My tribute also extends to thee many men and women in all the departments of WCAU, who, day by day, give clear meaning to the best high standards of our industry.
And now today, there comes into operation this magnificent and highly efficient radio and television center, the finest thing of its kind in the country. Philadelphians have cause to be very proud of this structure. And so has everyone in broadcasting, for, more than anything, it represents past accomplishments which deserve the highest praise and a faith in the future which gives encouragement and incentive to us all.
We at CBS are very proud of the happy association we have had with WCAU for the past 25 years. We share with you the excitement and pleasure, which you must feel on this occasion. We wish you every continuing success in the knowledge that in the years ahead, you will never waiver from the high purpose, which has set your course.
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Photo originally donated by Broadcast Pioneers member Ed Harvey
© 2007, All Rights Reserved
The e-mail address of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia is email@example.com