Courtesy of Library of Congress

William Paley 1901-1990

In 1927, William Paley's father and his business partners bought a struggling, Philadelphia-based radio network of sixteen stations called the Columbia Phonographic Broadcasting System. Considered one of the grandfathers of mass entertainment, Paley built CBS up from a small network into one of the leading media operations in America. While running CBS for more than a half century, he helped define commercial-network operations by encouraging the development of CBS News before and during World War II and by cultivating the stars who gave CBS a desirable lineup. From 1955 through 1976, CBS television consistently led in prime-time network ratings.