Born in Philadelphia as Grant Taylor Cushmore, Broadcast Pioneers member Taylor Grant was graduated from Germantown High School in Philly and then went on to Temple University where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in business.
His first job in broadcasting was in 1934 at WHAT Radio, which was located in the Public Ledger Building in Center City. His salary was $15 a week. After about six months on a bet, he went to WCAU Radio for an audition. The station’s program director, Stan Lee Broza (our organization’s first president) hired him on the spot for $25 a week.
At WCAU, he did many different programs. One particular program was called, “Matters of Modern Marriage.” He was 22 years old at the time.
His first big break came the day that humorist Will Rogers was killed in air crash along with aviation pioneer Wiley Post. The aircraft was a hybrid Lockheed Orion-Explorer floatplane which went down near Point Barrow, Alaska, on Thursday, August 15, 1935. WCAU Radio had an agreement with the Public Ledger newspaper (who owned WHAT Radio at that time) to supply WCAU with news. They had a microphone next to the wire copy machine and could broadcast from there when necessary.
Stan Lee Broza, the first President of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia and Program Directors of the station, assigned young Taylor Grant to head down to the newspaper’s office at 6th and Chestnut Streets in Center City Philadelphia and start broadcasting information about Will Rogers as it came over the wire and to fill with Grant’s own knowledge of Will Rogers. Taylor Grant said in 1991 that he ran the entire way to the Public Ledger, about a mile. He was sent because he was the only one available at the time. Broza was much misgivings about this since Taylor was hired the previous month. In those days, rookie announcers were rarely entrusted with anything more than a station break.
After 90 minutes on the air with the story, Grant returned to the station at 1622 Chestnut Street (the WCAU Building), where he overheard a pair of seasoned radio veterans say that "the new guy," Taylor Grant "stinks." Co-owner of WCAU, Dr. Leon Levy, a founding member of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia, didn't agree. Grant was called into Levy's office and announced that beginning on the next Monday morning, Taylor Grant would be doing the 7:45 newscast sponsored by Horn and Hardart. (In 1940, the broadcast was entitled, "Taylor Grant's Herald.")
WCAU Radio was the main station for the Philadelphia Phillies and Athletics baseball broadcasts. In 1940, Taylor Grant was used for fill-in and the next year, 1941, he was added to the regular announcer staff that did the baseball games. He also did the pre-game shows direct from the dug out. Grant told the Broadcast Pioneers in 1991 that, although he was a WCAU employee, sometimes the games would be carried over a competing station in the market when WCAU couldn’t take the broadcast. He stayed with the Phils coverage until the end of the 1942 season.
In 1938, Taylor Grant broadcast an entire season on WCAU of Philadelphia Eagles’ games and three years later, in 1941, he did a solo broadcast for the entire season of the University of Pennsylvania collegiate games.
Taylor recalled for us in 1991 that during the Second World War, the famed “Children’s Hour” hosted by his boss, Stan Lee Broza, was shortened from an hour to 45 minutes so Horn and Hardart (who sponsored the Children’s Hour) could present a 15 minute newscast made up mostly of war stories.
He won a government award for selling the most war bonds on his newscasts. He also participated in the first joint broadcasts between two stations in the Philadelphia market, WCAU and WFIL. It was a program about the city’s rehearsal for a possible blackout in case of enemy air attack. Taylor Grant broadcast was an airplane while in flight where the mayor and his cabinet were onboard. Grant said that it was a spectacular sight especially when a barn in New Jersey caught fire.
After some years here in Philadelphia, Taylor went to the big time and New York City and radio station WHN and shortly thereafter, he moved to WNEW, also in New York. Grant told us in 1991 that he usually didn’t list either of these two stations in his bio because neither experience was “very pleasant.”
Within a short period of time, he went to work for NBC on the Blue Network where later became the ABC Radio Network. That was in 1943. His “Sunday Evening News with Taylor Grant” was often one of the network’s top rated programs. He was also the anchor, editor and producer for the network’s “Headline Edition” daily at 7 pm and also did regular network staff announcing. The reporters on that broadcast included Chet Huntley, Walter Winchell, Drew Pearson, Dan Schorr and Paul Harvey.
On July 7, 1947, Taylor Grant and his daily broadcast would become famous in UFO circles. Taylor Grant reported: "The Army Air Forces has announced that a flying disc has been found and is now in the possession of the Army. Army Officials say the missile, found sometime last week, has been inspected at Roswell, New Mexico and sent to Wright Field, Ohio for further inspections. Late this afternoon a bulletin from New Mexico suggested that the widely publicized mystery of the flying saucers may soon be solved. Army Air Force officers reported that one of the strange disks had been found and inspected sometime last week."
During 1948, Taylor Grant broke into the television in New York with the ABC Television Network where he did five minutes of national and international news on a Saturday evening. Eventually, it became a daily 15 minutes newscast.
Problem was that he was still doing his radio news from 7 pm to 7:15 and the TV News from 7:15 to 7:30 pm. Fortunately, the two studios were nearby and during the local station break, he could run from one studio to the other.
Grant also substituted for famed columnist Walter Winchell when Walter went on vacation or was otherwise not available. The network’s new Vice-President for News, John Daly, eventually replaced Taylor at ABC.
Taylor Grant then returned to Philly in 1954 to anchor TV news on WPTZ, which later became WRCV-TV, Channel 3 and work for his old boss, now Channel 3’s program director, Stan Lee Broza. He left in 1958 when he contract ran out. Broadcast Pioneers member Vince Leonard replaced him.
He then did some work as a consultant, which he said, “just didn’t work out.” He was “saved” when he got a call from the Mutual Radio Network where his old friend Walter Winchell now worked. They again needed someone to fill-in for Winchell for a month and a half and Grant was their guy, and this time he would write the script and be able to say whatever was on his mind.
This led to a Mutual network position with his own show doing commentary and other news events for a couple of years. He then returned to Philadelphia to do commentaries on radio for the Philadelphia Gas Works on WIP and WFLN. This lasted until 1972. During 1966, Taylor Grant and his old Channel 3 buddy Alan Scott co-anchored the Channel 29 Ten O'Clock Report on WIBF-TV (now WTXF-TV).
For time to time, Taylor Grant would make guest appearances and one that he recalled during a 1991 conversation was his broadcast with former Channel 3 newscast Tom Snyder on NBC-TV’s “Tomorrow” which followed Johnny Carson. Another was on “The Lou Gordon Show,” a syndicated program from Kaiser Broadcasting’s Detroit station and carried over the Kaiser outlet in Philly, WKBS-TV.
Grant was usually thought of as a “news analyst.” He was a life-long opponent of censorship and a strong supporter of free speech. One time Taylor Grant said:
Basically, I speak against violent ways of living, the insanity of war, and of the love I believe is inside everybody, which, if properly released, would make the world a better place. I am against greed in every for. Contrary to what some believe, I am not against all authority.
He often said that silence is our own worst enemy. He detested censorship and what he thought as an “unprecedented number of repressive measures instituted by federal and local authorities and quietly accepted by the people.”
In Philadelphia, he has worked for WCRV-TV, WIP, WCAU, WFLN and WIBG. He and his wife Jean Cushmore had three children: Taylor Grant Cushmore, Terrance Cushmore and Lilitia Matlack.
Taylor Grant passed away on Tuesday, February 24, 1998 in Abington Hospital after suffering a heart attack. He was a long-time member of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia and served for many years on our Board of Governors (now our Board of Directors).
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Researched and compiled by Broadcast Pioneers historian Gerry Wilkinson
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