(left to right) John Roberts & Sam Feinberg
Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia luncheon
Adams Mark Hotel, Philadelphia
January 21, 1998
Broadcast Pioneers member Sam Feinberg wrote this about his career:
I graduated from Temple in February of 1951 with a Liberal Arts Degree, in Radio, Speech, and Theater. My first job was at a small radio station in Camden where I handled traffic and typed up the daily log.
After working at several advertising agencies, as an Account Executive, I began a new sales job working for Ziv Television. selling syndicated programs. As the network stations began to absorb more non-prime time slots and our selling opportunities diminished, I took a job with WFIL radio.
In the fall of 1964 I was offered a job as Sales Manager for a new start up station, WPHL. I started on January 1, 1965 and put together a sales staff, hired a national rep firm, and began calling on various accounts. WPHL was the second UHF station and went on the air (September 17, 1965) with a sizable amount of business.
At the time, there was only 17% UHF penetration so selling the station was no picnic. I was eventually named Station Manager, a role I wasn’t thrilled about, eventually going back to the Sales Management side.
At WPHL, we relied heavily on Sports programming and a strong kids block to build our ratings. In 1969, we made a pitch to air the Phillies, offering to carry many more games than the incumbent station WFIL-TV. After heavy negotiations we we were chosen. This was a strong boost for the station.
After eight years I left the station to work at WPIX in New York as an account executive and had a successful career there. Out of the blue I was asked if I wanted to come back to Philadelphia as National Sales Manager for WKBS. I accepted and spent the next 8 or 9 years at the station.
After several changes in GM’s at the station, I left and went back to New York to sell for the Independent TV division of Katz Television, the largest Radio and TV rep in the USA. I worked in New York until the company opened an office in Philadelphia and I was given the chance to come back to Philadelphia (and stop commuting) to run the Independent Division here.
The two other Katz divisions here handled the non-independent Katz Stations. I was made a Vice-President of the division in 1988. Some time later, much to my surprise, I was asked to take over the whole Philly office including the other two divisions.
I retired from the business in 1990 at the age of 65. I’ve always been an avid opera lover and have been lecturing on opera in and around the Philadelphia area since my retirement.
Sam, while an undergraduate student at Temple University was a student of John Roberts who got Feinberg involved with the campus radio station, WRTI. Here's some more of what Sam wrote about his days at Temple University and WRTI.
In September of 1948 I enrolled at Temple University. I had been attending Drexel as a Mechanical Engineering student and had gotten to the end of my sophomore year in Drexel’ s trimester program. I was disgusted with my choice of career and in the middle of my last trimester had determined that I would have to make a change. To tell the truth the school felt pretty much the same way about me.
So after undergoing a three day battery of tests given by the VA I was approved for any degree course that did not involve majoring in math. I was accepted as a freshman in the Liberal Arts College, majoring in Radio Speech and Theatre. At that time we were required to spend the first year at the Community College (run by Temple) at 18th and Spring Garden Street.
It was a wonderful change for me. My situation at Drexel had gotten so miserable that I literally hated going to class. To assuage my conscience I took to playing semi-pro baseball that spring, resulting in putting even more pressure on myself. Among other courses that spring I had five hours a week of Calculus and nine hours a week of physics. The Calculus professor would open each day's class by looking at his log book, shaking his head and announcing in a somewhat mocking tone, “the class is deteriorating rapidly.” Great for morale! In the frequent tests he gave, it was very common to see grades of 14 or 18. That’s out of a hundred!
At the Community College I found a rekindled interest in attending classes. I took the classic Liberal Arts curricula: History, English Literature, Psychology etc. I really enjoyed all of them. At the end of the year I moved over to the main Temple campus, and began an active participation in the radio operation.
The RST department was located in a brownstone building on North Broad street. The Department was headed by Dr. Armand Hunter, who had come from Northwestern University, that school being one of the real pioneers in Broadcast studies. The other instructors were John Roberts, Dave Davis, a gentleman named Mr. Soldevilla (sp), and Joe Zimmermann. I also remember a Mr. Kaplan who taught various writing courses that I took . I’m sure there were others but they were the names that I had the most to do with. At that time television was still in it’s infancy and most of our work was directed toward radio.
We spent a good part of our days in basement of the church (Thomas Hall) on the street behind Broad Street (the then home of WRTI). My initial interest had been in announcing, but after a semester or so I found it to be one of the most boring jobs in the world. I decided to switch to writing for which I have always had a certain affinity. One of the best courses I had was given by a gentleman named Ira Marion. Mr. Marion was the head of radio continuity for ABC, and an excellent instructor. I learned a good deal from him over several courses. He gave the course at about six-thirty or seven o’clock in the evening, which made for a long day, but was something I never regretted.
We spent a good deal of time around the station. We were a small group in the rather large Liberal Arts world of the time, so we tended to spend a good part of our spare time together, hence the time at the studio. In my announcing phase, I hosted a classical music hour, along with other announcers. You might say we were the forerunners of the current daytime classical revival at WRTI.
In my playwriting and theatre courses I met the late Jay Kogan, and his wife Dean who went on to found and run the Society Hill Playhouse, Norm Feld (in Hollywood, Norman Fell, another very funny guy) and Lou Lippa, a prominent writer and director in the Philadelphia theatre scene. There were others, but memory, unlike a hard drive, forgets.
I graduated in 1951 and I look back at those WRTI years with a great deal of warmth. I always found the professors very helpful, and especially John Roberts who always gave sage and practical advice to me. The department gave me a good grounding in broadcasting and I went on to have a rewarding career in the business.
Here’s a listing of the jobs I had: thought this might be interesting. WKDN, Camden, Traffic and copy writer. Silver Advertising Agency, copy writer and account executive. Gresh and Kramer Advertising, New Business (I decided to get out of the writing end and go into sales. I found it more interesting and it paid a lot better!). Ziv Television Sales; at the time the largest and best syndicated programming company in the business. I learned more about selling working for this company than I could ever imagine at the time, and I thought I was pretty good before I got there. Spent a short time working for, at that time, WFIL radio. In January of 1965 I started working for the new WPHL, one of three new UHF stations going on the air. I was Sales Manager and was the first hire at the station. We hit the air on September 17, 1965 (Channel 17).
I eventually became General Manager of the station, but didn't particularly like that aspect of management. We were the flagship station for US Communications and I eventually wound up as National Sales Manager for the group, including stations in San Francisco and Atlanta.
In 1972, Sam Feinberg was elected to a three-year term on this organization's Board of Governors (today called the Board of Directors).
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Photo originally donated by Broadcast Pioneers member Gerry Wilkinson
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