A giant in broadcasting, William S. Paley is remembered today as the father of CBS, a company he founded in the early half of the last century. He developed many of the standards of broadcasting still valued today.
For more than half a century, Paley was an important figure in a number of professional areas. Both as a brilliant and creative businessman, his influence on American broadcasting was powerful and far-reaching. He took an early lead in establishing rigorous standards of fairness and balance for the coverage of public events. Extremely competitive, he also drove CBS from its small beginnings to its later success by his courtship of affiliates and advertisers and by his sharp programming instincts.
One area of great pride was his creation of CBS News, which became one of the preeminent newsgathering organizations of the world. He established a radio documentary unit, which became the forerunner of news broadcasts like 60 Minutes. He had an unwavering dedication to covering world events with accuracy and professionalism. This commitment led him to take a leave of absence from CBS in 1943 to work for the Office of War Information. His efforts during World War II led to his receipt of the United States Legion of Merit and Medal for Merit and the French Legion of Honor and Croix de Guerre with Palm.
When he returned to CBS, Paley became chairman and chief executive officer. In his role as chairman, he had a significant impact on the development of television into the medium it is today. He also oversaw many other communication-oriented ventures by CBS, which acquired more than 40 companies, including a number of publishers, magazines and the American Record Corporation, which became CBS/Records Group, comprised of recording labels such as Columbia, Epic, Portrait, and Masterworks. In 1987 he was renamed chairman of the board of CBS, a position he held until his death.
Paley¿s gifts to broadcasting are legendary, and the number of awards he received during his lifetime is staggering. These prestigious awards include CBS¿s multiple receipt of the George Foster Peabody award for excellence in "the news and news documentary fields." Others include the Gold Achievement Keynote Award of the National Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters, Concert Artists Guild Awards, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences¿ Governors Award and Trustees Award, President¿s Award of the National Association of Television Program Executives, and TV Guides¿ Life Achievement Award.
Paley is also remembered as a strong advocate of the First Amendment and its application to broadcast journalism, a dedicated collector and art patron and a generous philanthropist. He founded the Museum of Broadcasting in 1975 and continued until his death to lead as chairman.
Paley is remembered most for his unwavering dedication to excellence in broadcast communication. It is such service to the media and advertising that serves as a model for future leaders in this dynamic industry.