William Paley was born in Chicago on 28th September 1901. After attending the University of Chicago (1918-19) and the University of Pennsylvania (1922) he inherited his father's successful cigar business.
Paley was in charge of publicity and impressed by the response that was generated by radio advertising he invested in the small radio network, the Columbia Phonographic Broadcasting System (CPBS) in September 1928. The company was later renamed the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS).
During the Second World War Paley developed CBS's news organizations and recruited broadcasters such as Edward Murrow, William L. Shirer, Walter Cronkite and Howard K. Smith. Paley also joined the United States Army and was deputy chief of the psychological warfare division.
William Paley died in 1991.