The Broadcasting Years, 1958-1989: Memoir of a Television Pioneer

Memoir of a Television Pioneer
by William L. McGee with Sandra V. McGee
Foreword by Richard C. Block, former president, Kaiser Broadcasting
BMC Publications, 2018
215 pp, 81 b/w photographs & illustrations
Paperback 6″ x 9″, $19.95; Kindle eBook $9.95
Available from Amazon

“Bill McGee is indeed the ‘father of modern broadcast marketing.’”
Robert C. Pritikin, Award-winning ad man and author of Christ Was an Ad Man

In his sixth memoir, award-winning author and television broadcast pioneer, William L. McGee, recounts his 32-year career in broadcast sales and marketing.

Written in his signature straightforward and journalistic style, the former Montana cowboy-turned star salesman delivers a chronological and factual account of his work on the other side of the camera, and his rise in the industry to become an innovator and a leader in broadcast sales and co-operative advertising.

The linear narrative takes the reader on the author’s route to success in a business known for its competitive edge, and its “Mad Men” world with creativity, deadlines, excitement, too much travel, and many martini lunches.

The memoir chronicles McGee’s career in four parts: 

Part I: Syndicated Television Program Sales, 1958-1962
Part II: National Radio and Television Station Rep, 1962-1967
Part III: Television Station Management, 1968-1970
Part IV:  The BMC Story, 1971-1989

McGee got his start in broadcast sales in 1958 selling off-network syndicated television programs, such as My Little Margie and Our Miss Brooks, for the video arm of Allied Artists in Hollywood. This was followed by four years with Independent Television Corporation (ITC), the joint venture between America’s Jack Wrather and Britain’s media mogul Lew Grade, where McGee sold first-run television series, such as Cannonball and The Four Just Men.  McGee then worked in television station management for Henry J. Kaiser’s independent UHF station, KBHK-TV, San Francisco; KEMO-TV, San Francisco; and WATL-TV, Atlanta.

In 1971, McGee launched Broadcast Marketing Company (BMC) in his San Francisco apartment with a typewriter, telephone and answering machine. In a few years, he was recognized in the industry as a leader and innovator in broadcast sales and marketing, and cooperative advertising.

During his 32-year career, McGee received numerous awards, including 1982’s “Broadcast Pioneer… one who has served the great cause of broadcasting since 1958.”

Memoirs by William L. McGee:
MONTANA MEMOIR: 1925–1942: The Hardscrabble Years
BLUEJACKET ODYSSEY, 1942-1946: Guadalcanal to Bikini
THE DIVORCE SEEKERS: A Photo Memoir of a Nevada Dude Wrangler, 1947-1949
HOW I LEARNED TO SELL AND MAKE DEALS, 1950-1958: Memoir of a Merchant Man
THE BROADCASTING YEARS, 1958-1989: Memoir of a Television Pioneer
AUTHOR, PUBLISHER, MARKETING MAN, 1990-2015 (In the chute for 2020)

William L. McGee’s writing career has spanned six decades. He has written 22 books; ten with his co-author/wife Sandra V. McGee. Follow Bill and Sandra on their Blog at .


Book Review: Broadcasting & Cable

Amazon Reviews

“In the seventies, Bill McGee enticed me to be on the creative team for what turned out to be two highly-successful broadcast sales presentation films, Get It On! Get It On Radio Now!! and How To Make Effective Low-Cost Television Commercials. These films were the first of their kind in the industry and just one of Bill’s many innovative sales ideas which have earned him the title of ‘father of modern broadcast marketing.’”
Robert C. Pritikin, Award-winning ad man and author of Christ Was an Ad Man

“Bill McGee revolutionized electronic media sales. His creative approach, focusing on retail sales cycles and local sales promotions using co-op dollars to switch a portion of the retailer’s newspaper ad budget to broadcasting, was a paradigm shift. Today, many of those same techniques are used in large and small markets. I will forever be indebted to Bill McGee, a gifted writer and my mentor. Great insights into broadcasting syndication and sales during the early years.”
– Elaine Clark, former Co-op Director, Jefferson-Pilot Retail Services 

“As someone who spent a long career in advertising, I highly recommend this book for anyone considering a career in communications or business in general. It gives you a good understanding of the ups and downs of both business and life.”
– Joel Lewis, Lewis & Partners Advertising

“Bill McGee is no armchair historian…He’s lived what he writes about whether it’s joining the Navy in ’42 at age seventeen simply to get into the fight, or cowboying in the West in the postwar ’40s, or working in broadcasting in the early days of 1950s and ’60s television.”
— Barnaby Conrad, founder of the Santa Barbara Writers Conference and author of Matador

“Though too young to have experienced an era firsthand, Sandra McGee immerses herself in the subject and captures in her writing the essence of the time.”
— Charles Champlin, former film critic and arts editor of The Los Angeles Times

“The Broadcasting Years, 1958-1989 brings back great memories of coworkers and friends from a glorious past when I was in the business and when advertising and broadcasting in San Francisco were the center of my universe. . . . (And I write this considering I only got one mention in the book; the fragile ego takes yet another hit.) This is a story of a remarkable individual, who we called ‘Bill McGee from Tennessee’ even though he was from Montana. McGee’s broadcasting memoir explains that succeeding in broadcasting and advertising takes more than just being a pretty face with a great personality. Darn, I wish I had known that then.”
– Howard “Howie” Reed, former San Francisco advertising executive and author of One night, while out Drinking with the Fat Swede

“As someone who spent a decade in sales with IBM followed by three decades as a self-employed consultant in the computer industry, I particularly related to “Part IV: The BMC Story” where the author tells in detail how he grew his own company–Broadcast Marketing Company–from launching it in his apartment with a desk and an answering machine, to building it into a nationwide broadcasting sales business over a thirteen year period. The author’s creativity throughout his 32-year career is inspiring. Though the entertainment industry has changed since the author’s retirement in 1989, his memoir will provide anyone who wants to work in the industry with ideas for different ways they can use their talents on the other side of the camera.”
–  Donald K. Ilfeld, “History and Evolution of Computer Technology”, Changes, Challenges & Opportunities in The New Electronic Media, by William L. McGee

“A must read by spouses whose spouse was or is in the broadcasting business. My limited knowledge of this business increased a thousand fold after reading this fascinating memoir. An easy read that leaves me asking for more.”
– Sally C., Beta reader

“This book should be required reading on the subject of entrepreneurship in business schools”
– Jane Z., Beta reader