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Bill Reed papers

 Collection 0055-MMC-NPBA

William "Bill" Thomas Reed (1938-2020) helped create the PBS Elementary/Secondary Service, the PBS Adult Learning Service, the PBS Adult Learning Satellite Service, and the PBS National Narrowcast Service (later called the Business Channel) during the 1980s. He also created the PBS Home Video Project, an operation designed to market PBS videos to home viewers.

Reed joined public station KIXE in Redding, CA in 1967 as KIXE's general manager. In 1974, he started working full time at PBS as director of station relations, and by 1978 had become the video marketing division's senior vice-president. Reed became senior vice president of education services in 1980. Returning to the local station level, he became president and general manager of KCPT in Kansas City, Missouri before retiring in 2005.

The collection documents Reed's work with PBS with emphasis on PBS Video and educational services.


  • 1969-1991
  • Majority of material found within 1979-1991

Use and Access to Collection

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.

Duplication and Copyright Information

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.


16.00 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The Bill Reed papers cover the years 1969 to 1991 with the bulk of material dating from 1977 to 1991. The collection consists of materials regarding the financial status of PBS with an emphasis on the development and funding of educational service programs at PBS. It also contains papers related to the marketing of PBS video and home video which brought PBS great success in audiovisual area. Types of documents included are: correspondence, reports, memoranda, agenda, minutes, directory. The collection also contains audiovisual cassettes, tape recordings and a small box of slides.


Bill Reed was born in Los Angeles, California in 1938. He received his B.A. in History and his General Secondary Teaching Credential from the University of Pacific in Stockton, California.

After serving in the United States Army in Vietnam for two years, followed by two years teaching in Northern California, Reed joined public station KIXE Redding, California in 1967. He was KIXE's general manager for six years and was elected to the PBS Board of Directors from 1972 to 1974.

Reed came to PBS in 1974 as director of station relations, becoming that division's senior vice president in 1978. During his tenure as PBS's principal liaison with member stations, Reed was also instrumental in PBS efforts to foster improvements in UHF broadcasting, participated in the planning of public television's satellite system, and was on a task force tagged with developing the Station Program Cooperative which was a program exchange mechanism formed by PBS in 1972 in response to financial, governmental and operational pressures.

In 1980, after heading up a planning team, namely PTV-3, which looked at educational activities and opportunities, Reed became senior vice president of education services. In just under a decade, Reed led the creation of the PBS Elementary/Secondary Service, the PBS Adult Learning Service, the PBS Adult Learning Satellite Service, the PBS National Narrowcast Service and PBS VIDEO. He also served as a consultant to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). PBS VIDEO's success in the audiovisual arena, coupled with public television's interest in tapping into the expanding business of home video, led to creation of a video marketing division at PBS with Reed as its senior vice president.

In 1991, the Pacific Mountain Network Board honored Reed with its Governor's Award for Distinguished Service to Public Television. He also served as a private sector representative in Telecommunications for the U.S. Department of State to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (1989); Chair, Broadcast Panel for U.S.-U.S.S.R. Bilateral Information Talks; President, Western Educational Network (1972).

On February 22, 1991, Reed announced he was leaving PBS to pursue home video and other program distribution business projects. Reed became president and general manager of KCPT, Kansas City, Missouri in October 1992.


The collection consists of six series.

  1. Series 1: Public Broadcasting -- General
  2. Series 2: Public Broadcasting Service -- Budgets
  3. Series 3: Public Broadcasting Service -- Reports
  4. Series 4: Public Broadcasting Service -- Educational Services Division
  5. Series 5: PBS Video & Home Video
  6. Series 6: Other Educational/Broadcasting Organizations

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The Bill Reed papers were donated to the University of Maryland Libraries by Bill Reed in December of 1992.

Guide to the Bill Reed papers
Processed by Hsiu-Ling Ho, April 1995
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Revision Statements

  • 2007-04-15: EAD markup checked and verified using JEdit software by Karen E. King, April 2007.
  • 2010-06-18: EAD revised by Karen E. King, June 2010
  • 2010-07-19: EAD revised by Karen E. King, July 2010
  • 2010-07-20: EAD revised by Karen E. King, July 2010
  • 2010-12-08: EAD revised by Karen E. King, December 2010
  • 2017-11-08: Finding aid title, filing title, conditions governing use, conditions governing access updated; broken related materials link removed; related accession and collection processor added by Jen Wachtel, November 2017.
  • 2019-01-18: Finding aid reviewed and minor edits made by Duncan Griffin.
  • 2021-08-06: Jim Baxter re-wrote the collection abstract.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742