Opening Speech of the WCAU Building in 1952!

(Left to right) Donald Thornburgh, President/General Manager of the WCAU Stations
CBS Chairman of the Board Bill Paley (one time part owner of the WCAU stations)
May 27, 1952

The date is May 27, 1952. This speech was given by Donald Thornburgh, President and General Manager of the WCAU stations at the dedication ceremonies of the new WCAU Radio and Television Center.

The group gathered here today illustrates the many facets of our stations responsibilities. Here are the representatives of the Federal Commission that has regulatory power over all communications. Here are the officials of the federal, state and local governments. With us are religious and educational leaders of our area. Officers of the National Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters. The heads of the Columbia Broadcasting System with which this station has the honor of being an original affiliate to it in both radio and television.

Many of our clients and advertising agency friends are here. Personal friends, and last but not least, a goodly representation of our parent company, The Philadelphia Bulletin.

Since we feel that the success of WCAU is measured by the various groups represented here today. I am going to submit a current report to you, the people that guide us in our activities. We hope you will feel that we have earned the right to create this building and that our past stewardship will bode well for our future business growth and continued public service.

Let us first examine the popularity of our programs on WCAU Radio and Television. In radio, we have 7 of the top 10 nighttime programs and 9 of the top 10, five times a week daytime programs. In television we have 8 of the top 15 once a week shows and 5 of the top 10 multi-weekly shows.

Program popularity is reflected by business activity. In radio 1950 and ’51 represent our two best years in total sales volume. In television, WCAU-TV has been shown in each of the last four Rorabaugh quarterly reports as leading all other television stations in the United States in total number of advertising accounts.

This bespeaks a good sales staff and good creative program departments that have been able to build and sell programs that have proven profitable for the advertiser.

From the standpoint of network originations, we have been fortunate in having our television department headed by a well-known and respected production leader in Charles Vanda, who for many years was with me on the Coast. His programs are well accepted locally and we have had as many as six of an origination per week on the Columbia network, two of them commercially sponsored. Only Hollywood and New York originate more.

But the business volume has not been our only goal. We have tried to ever alert to the public service potentialities of radio and television. The proof of our success seems to be answered by the experts who constitute the committees for the various annual awards.

This spring WCAU and WCAU-TV has received seven major awards for 1951. The George Foster Peabody award for “What in the World,” a television program broadcast in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania.

The Alfred I. DuPont award and a check for $1,000 for the best large station public service programs in both radio and television. This is the first time a station has been given the award for both.

The Ohio State Educational Institute for Radio certificate for “freedom Revisited,” a historical series of radio.

The Ohio State Educational Institute for Television for the best Children’s entertainment program, “The Big Top.” Our own famous circus program originated in the Camden Convention Hall.

The Variety Award for the station originating the best television programs for the network.

Freedoms Foundation Award, another for the radio program, “Freedom Revisited.” This is the third successive year we have received their medal.

National Federation of Woman’s Clubs for the best children’s entertainment in television. Again, “The Big Top.”

We are proud of the fact that no other station in the United States has ever succeeded in winning all of these important awards in any one year.

Add to these accomplishments the fact that for two years our engineering department has been deeply involved in planning and supervising the construction and engineering of this modern now functional radio and television studio.

The culmination of our efforts came in the transfer last week when television was moved on Sunday night between midnight and 8 am and radio the following Friday night instantaneously, both without loss of a program and without a facility failure of any sort. With the complicated electrical engineering involved, this represents a Herculean task accomplished by Vice President John Leitch, our engineering department and the other operational departments of our organization.

WCAU has through its entire history been a well-operated and well accepted station. Through the years it can point with pride to many firsts in radio. So, from the day the building of this new home was decided upon, we, as an organization, resolved to make these radio and television properties not only commercially successful, but worthy of their physical new housing.

We feel we have won the confidence and trust of our listeners and viewers in the great area these stations cover. We look at the future as a challenge to continue to furnish the best in entertainment, news, information and education to our public. Our new motto, “Speaking for Freedom,” expresses our hope that we can disseminate this service from the birthplace of freedom in the truly American way.

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