Broadcast Pioneers member T. E. “Dick” Paisley, 83, passed away on Friday morning, August 16, 2002. He died at Pennsylvania Hospital from a stroke. Paisley also suffered from cancer.
Born on Monday, June 9, 1919, he grew up in the Overbrook section of West Philly and was graduated from Overbrook High School in 1936.
Though his given name was Thomas Edwin Paisley, Jr., his father was against calling him “Junior.” He nicknamed him “Dick” and the name stuck throughout his entire life.
After his high school days, Dick played trumpet with Jan Savitt’s Top Hatters starting at the age of 17. This introduction for Big Band music developed into a life-long love. He was also a devoted collector of this music. It was also his first involvement with broadcasting as the Top Hatters were the "house band" of KYW Radio at that time.
After his studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Paisley joined the United States Navy Reserve in 1940 and specialized in the field of Intelligence. He spent time during the Second World War in the Mid-Pacific Theater, primarily in a public information and PR role. He was assigned as Chief Yeoman on the Admiral’s staff meeting such people as Henry Fonda, Tyrone Power and Bobby Riggs.
Discharged at war’s end, Paisley went to work as a salesman for WFIL Radio in 1946. In September of 1947 when WFIL-TV came on the air, he sold time for all three of the WFIL stations, AM, FM and television.
According to the Paisley family, Dick’s boss, Roger Clipp, General Manager of the WFIL stations, was one of Dick's life-long heroes.
From WFIL, Paisley went to Reading, Pennsylvania where he was General Manager of an UHF television station, WHUM-TV, Channel 61. The station went on the air late in 1952 and was owned by Hum Greig. In 1957, Dick moved north to the Big Apple, joining NBC’s national sales staff. While there, his salesmanship won him a brand new Corvette, in a national network sales contest.
A few years later, he returned to his hometown as General Manager of NBC’s O&O (owned and operated) stations, WRCV. There was AM & TV. There was no FM as the previous owners, Westinghouse, had donated the frequency for the start of WHYY-FM, the city’s educational station.
Paisley loved big bands and he was instrumental in the introduction of the radio station’s big band format. There he had hired some outstanding air talents as Bill Bransome and Jack Pyle. During these years, remotes from Sunnybrook Ballroom and other localities, brought such big band luminaries as Harry James, Glenn Gray, Ray McKinley, and Buddy Rich to Philadelphia.
He left the stations in 1965 when Westinghouse Broadcasting regained control over both the radio and television outlet. He joined with WPBS, the upstart FM radio station started and owned by the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin newspaper after they sold the WCAU stations to CBS.
Years later, in 1968, he became part owner and General Manager of WTOW in Towson, Maryland. During his reign, the station had a favorite of Dick’s, Big Bands.
From 1973 to 1975, he was Vice President and General Manager of WHCN-FM in Hartford, CT. Then he went as General Manager to WFSH in Valparaiso/Niceville, Florida. Dick was there from 1975 to 1979. The station was owned by his old friend Charles Wister, a member of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia.
In 1980, he returned to Philadelphia, and joined T. Gray Advertising as Director of Electronic Media. There, he was involved in everything from auto racing in Fairmount Park, to the Old Turkey Jamboree (bourbon, that is), to Powerboat racing on the Delaware River. He retired in 1990.
His memberships included the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia, the Broadcasters’ Foundation and the Navy League.
His second wife, Cay and four children survive him. He was pre-deceased by his first wife, Katy.
Dick was cremated and there was a Memorial Service on Saturday, September 7, 2002 at 3 pm at the Memorial Church of the Good Shepherd on Oak Road in the East Falls section of Philadelphia.
On September 26, 1984, Legendary newscaster and Broadcast Pioneers member John Facenda died. On that day, KYW Newscaster and Broadcast Pioneer member Bill Bransome hosted his daily KYW Newsradio program called "Reporters' Roundup from 4:30 to 5 pm. On that broadcast, Dick Paisley spoke about how Bill Bransome was hired.
Listen to Dick Paisley
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
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