Edwin Gladding Burrows was born on July 23, 1917 in Dallas, Texas to Millar and Irene Gladding Burrows. He received a B.A. from Yale University in 1938 and a M.A. from the University of Michigan in 1940. His first marriage to Gwen Lemon ended in divorce in 1972. He remarried in December of 1973. Burrows has three sons: Edwin Gwynne, Daniel William, and David John.
While studying literature at Yale, Burrows worked part time at WICC New Haven, from 1936 to 1938, as a newscaster, announcer, and actor. He left Connecticut to enter the masters program in literature at the University of Michigan. Upon receiving his masters degree, he joined the staff of WWJ-FM in Detroit as an announcer. He moved up the ranks to Program Manager. He left WWJ for active duty as a lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve. He served as a deck and combat information officer for carriers in the Pacific theater from 1943 to 1946.
After the war, he returned to Michigan and began working as Program Director at WPAG, Ann Arbor, from 1946 to 1948. His public radio positions started in 1948 as program director at WUOM, Ann Arbor. Then, he helped create WGVR Grand Rapids in 1961. In 1966, he was made manager of WUOM and WGVR. After a stint as Director of the National Center for Audio Experimentation at the University of Wisconsin in Madison from 1970 to 1973, Burrows returned to WUOM/WGVR as executive producer, a position he held until 1982. During 1968 to 1970, and 1975 to 1980, as part of a three-hour a week cultural arts program called "The Eleventh Hour", Burrows interviewed some 500 individuals including Alvin Ailey, Robert Bly, Peter DeVries, Joyce Carol Oates, and Kurt Vonnegut. Finally, from 1948 to 1970 and from 1973 to 1980, he designed and edited the WUOM/WGVR Monthly Program Guide.
While at WUOM, Burrows helped charter the radio division of the National Association of Educational Broadcasters (NAEB), National Educational Radio (NER). He served as Region III Director (Region III covered Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin,) on the board of NER. In 1965, he was elected Chairman of the Board of NER. He also chaired the NAEB Network Advisory Committee and the NAEB Board. In 1967, Burrows successfully lobbied for the inclusion of radio in the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967