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Bernard Mayes papers

 Collection 0079-MMC-NPBA

Bernard Mayes was born on October 10, 1929 in London, England. He served as a correspondent for the British Broadcasting Corporation (1956-1971); announcer for stations KPFA-FM (1964) and KXKX-FM (1966); general manager for KQED-FM (1967-1973); executive vice president of KQED-TV (1973-1975); chair, National Public Radio Board of Directors (1970-1972); consultant, Corporation for Public Broadcasting Radio Advisory Service (1971-1980); correspondent, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Radio New Zealand and Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (1971-1981).

The Bernard Mayes Papers cover the period 1912-2001 and document Maye's broadcasting career at KQED (San Francisco, CA), National Public Radio (NPR) and at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). The collection also includes Mayes' personal collection of articles and papers documenting the history of public broadcasting.


  • 1912-2001
  • Majority of material found within 1977-1986

Use and Access to Collection

The collection is open for research use.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials page for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.


1.75 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The Bernard Mayes Papers covers the years 1912 to 2001 and contain some undated material. The bulk of the collection concern the years 1969 to 1985. The materials document Mayes' years with KQED San Francisco, his role in the founding of National Public Radio, and his work with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's Radio Advisory Service. Also included in the collection are Bernard Mayes' personal collection of documents concerning public broadcasting history and articles about radio and television. Types of materials include memorandums, correspondence, annual reports, personal notes, articles, congressional documents, minutes, and pamphlets.


Bernard Duncan Mayes was born in London, England on October 10, 1929. After graduating from Cambridge University with a BA (1952) and MA (1954) in classical language and history, he taught high school education before becoming ordained as a priest in the Church of England in 1958.

Mayes' broadcasting career began in 1956 when he became a broadcast correspondent for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), a post he held until 1971. After working as an announcer for San Francisco stations KPFA-FM (1964) and KXKX-FM (1966), he became KQED-FM's general manager in 1967. From 1973 to 1975, Mayes served as executive vice president of KQED-TV. While working at KQED, Mayes was also one of the founding directors of National Public Radio (NPR), serving as chairman of the board of directors from 1970 to 1972. During his tenure, he helped establish the organization and standards of NPR.

Mayes also did a significant amount of work for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). There, he helped to develop the Radio Advisory Service in 1971, and served as senior consultant until 1980. The Radio Advisory Service was implemented to assist public radio and television stations nationwide struggling with funding or other various problems. Following the founding of the Service, Mayes became an advisor, consulting various stations around the country. Finally, from 1971 to 1981, he was a broadcast correspondent for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Radio New Zealand and the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC).

In 1984, Mayes returned to the academic realm as Chairman of the Department of Rhetoric and Communication Studies at the University of Virginia. During his time at the University of Virginia, Mayes developed the Media Studies Program and in 1991 was named dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He was seen as a valuable asset to the University community and received two awards, the Harrison Award for mentoring and a special award from the University's secret '7' Society.

In addition to his radio, television, and academic accomplishments, Mayes has recorded various dramatizations of famous works, such as J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and Homer's Odyssey. He received an award from the National Endowment for the Arts for his dramatization of Thomas Jefferson's life.

Mayes most recent endeavor was his 2001 memoir Escaping God's Closet which discussed his life as a homosexual priest with a chapter included on his work with NPR. His book was awarded with the Lambda Literary Award from the Lambda Literary Foundation in 2003.


Organized as six series:

Series 1
Public Broadcasting History
Series 2
Series 3
Series 4
National Public Radio (NPR)
Series 5
Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB)
Series 6
Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) Radio Station Advisory Service

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The Bernard Mayes Papers was donated to the National Public Broadcasting Archives, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries by Bernard Mayes in February of 2007.

Processing Information

Documents were placed in acid-free folders which were then put into acid-free boxes.

Guide to the Bernard Mayes papers
Processed by Ann Quinlin
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.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

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