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William S. Hedges (1895-1978) was one of the primary architects of American broadcasting and among broadcasting's first historians. He established the Chicago Daily News radio department in 1922 and later became president of the Daily News radio station, WMAQ. In 1923 he was one of the founders of the National Association of Broadcasters. He served as NAB president from 1928 to 1930 and subsequently as director and chairman of the executive committee. In 1929, he established an experimental television station that he operated in connection with WMAQ until 1931. After NBC purchased WMAQ in 1931, Hedges held several executive positions for the NBC radio network until his retirement in 1961.
As president of the Radio Pioneers in 1949-50, he helped Columbia University launch the radio oral history project. In 1964 Hedges began work on the Broadcast Pioneers History Project and was responsible for assembling the core collection of what became the Library of American Broadcasting. This collection covers Hedges' career from radio in Chicago to NBC vice-president to creating the Broadcast Pioneers. Types of documents include correspondence, diaries, financial statements, newsletters, pamphlets, photographs, publications, and speeches.
This collection is open to the public and must be used in the Special Collections reading room. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.
Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.
Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.
1.00 Linear Feet (2 Hollinger boxes)
The William S. Hedges Papers spans the years 1917 to 1976, with the bulk of the material dating from 1917 to 1918 and 1966 to 1976. The collection contains correspondence, clippings, diaries, financial statements, logs, memoranda, newsletters, pamphlets, photographs, publications and speeches.
William S. Hedges, one of the primary architects of American broadcasting, was born in Elmwood, Illinois, on June 21, 1895. He lived in Colorado from 1900 to 1913 and attended schools in Grand Junction, Denver and Colorado Springs. He graduated from Colorado Springs High School and then moved to Chicago where he worked as a department foreman in the car shops of the Armour Car Lines. He left Armour in the fall of 1914 to attend the University of Chicago and became campus correspondent for the Chicago Daily News. He left college at the end of his junior year to join the Air Service of the United States Army. While awaiting his call to ground school he served as military correspondent for the Chicago Daily News at Camp Grant near Rockford, Illinois. Hedges served as publisher of the student publication, "The Pilot", while at the School of Military Aeronautics at Ohio State University, Columbus. Upon graduation from the School of Military Aeronautics at the University of Texas, Austin, he attended the Artillery School of Fire at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and the Observers School Post Field. He was then commissioned Second Lieutenant and following the cessation of hostilities in 1918, attached as a reserve officer to the 311th Observation Squadron for five years.
William Hedges returned to the Chicago Daily News as a reporter in December of 1918. In 1922 he established the radio department of the Chicago Daily News and assisted in the establishment of the Daily News radio station, WMAQ, which first went on the air in April of 1922. When WMAQ was incorporated as a separate Daily News subsidiary, Hedges was made president of WMAQ Inc. In 1923 he was one of the founders of the National Association of Broadcasters. He served as president from 1928 to 1930 and subsequently as director and chairman of the executive committee. From 1928 to 1931 he was a director and secretary of Press Wireless, Inc. which was an organization founded by a group of leading newspapers for the purpose of operating wireless stations for international communication. In 1929, he established W9XAP, an experimental television station that he operated in connection with WMAQ until November 1931.
In 1931 NBC purchased WMAQ. In addition to managing WMAQ, Hedges managed WENR - NBC's second Chicago station at that time. In June of 1933 he was appointed general manager of radio station KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and in April of 1934, was transferred to New York as manager of NBC's newly established Owned and Operated Stations Division. Hedges left NBC in December of 1936 to become manager of radio stations WLW and WSAI in Cincinnati, Ohio and was elected vice-president of the Crosley Radio Corporation. In November of 1937 he returned to NBC as vice-president in charge of Station Relations and Traffic.
Hedges was appointed vice-president of the newly created Stations Department in May of 1939. This department encompassed Station Relations, Traffic, National Spot Sales and Owned and Operated. In July of 1945, he was named vice-president in charge of Planning and Development. In December of that year he was designated vice-president in charge of Integrated Services. In 1951 he was made vice-president in charge of General Services and in 1959 vice-president in charge of NBC's Political Broadcast Unit. In 1960 Hedges completed his last assignment for NBC -- coverage of the 1960 political conventions. William Hedges retired from NBC in January of 1961.
In 1964 William Hedges began work on the Broadcast Pioneers History Project and was responsible for assembling the core collection of the present Broadcast Pioneers Library of American Broadcasting. Hedges was also a leader in the establishment of the Broadcast Pioneers Educational Fund which endowed and supervised the library's operation. The Broadcast Pioneers Library, which traces the evolution of the broadcasting industry, was founded in April of 1972. On September 18, 1974, Hedges was elected Chairman Emeritus of the Board of the Broadcast Pioneers Educational Fund.
William Hedges served as president of the Radio Executives Club (now known as the International Radio and Television Society) in 1946 and 1947 and as president of the Radio Pioneers (now known as Broadcast Pioneers) in 1949 and 1950. From 1942 to 1959 he was a member of Board of Directors of both Broadcast Music, Inc. and Associated Music Publishers. Additionally, Hedges was involved in numerous civic organizations throughout his life.
William Hedges married Margaret Elizabeth Hasenbalg in Chicago, April 21, 1920 and they had two daughters. He died on January 19, 1978 at the age of 82.
The collection is organized as five series:
The William S. Hedges Papers was donated to the Library of American Broadcasting by William S. Hedges in 1972, 1973 and 1977.
This collection has been processed. Aside from some rough groupings of similar material, the collection came to the Libraries in no particular order. The processing archivist loosely arranged files into separate series, however, there is overlap among the series. In most cases, materials have been arranged by type of document and date.
Rubber bands and severely-rusted fasteners were removed and replaced with plastic clips. Many of the original folders were replaced with acid-free folders. Photographs and slides were separated from non-photographic materials within each folder by acid-free paper or envelopes. The entire collection was re-boxed.
Two oversized boxes of clippings from the Broadcast Pioneers History Project, of which William Hedges was the director, were removed from the William Hedges papers and reassigned to the Broadcast Pioneers History Project collection.
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