The Broadcasting Years

Cover and buy button for "The Broadcasting Years, 1958-1989: Memoir of a Television Pioneer" by William L. McGeeTHE BROADCASTING YEARS, 1958-1989
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 $5.95
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“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

About the Book

In his sixth memoir, Bill takes the reader behind the scenes into his “Mad Men” world of broadcast sales and marketing. He delivers a factual account of his rise in an industry known for its competitive edge, creative temperaments, constant deadlines, too much travel, and many martini lunches. 

In 1958, when Bill McGee set his sights on a career in the entertainment business, his interest was in directing or producing. He sought the advice of director/producer Norman Tokar (My Favorite WifeLeave It To Beaver) as to how to break into the business. Norman Tokar suggested Bill focus on the sales segment of the industry where he could use his proven sales and deal making skills honed in the automobile and world trade businesses in the 1950s. (See How I Learned To Sell and Make Deals, 1950-1958.) Tokar suggested Bill look into becoming a talent agent or selling syndicated television programs.

Bill took Norman Tokar’s advice. Bill’s first job in the industry was with the television arm of Allied Artists, selling off-network syndicated television programs, such as My Little Margie and Our Miss Brooks. This launched Bill on a  successful 32-year career in broadcast sales and marketing.

The Broadcasting Years is divided into 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”

The majority of the book is devoted to Part IV: “The BMC Story.” In 1971, influenced by one of Henry J. Kaiser’s favorite sayings – “Find a need and fill it” – Bill launched his own company, Broadcast Marketing Company or “BMC”. The need was for better sales training for local television station reps. And Bill McGee filled this need with innovative sales training materials, including seminars and how-to sales guidebooks. Among his numerous accomplishments during the BMC years, he became recognized in the broadcasting industry as a leader and innovator in broadcast sales and marketing, and cooperative advertising.

In 1982, Bill was inducted in Broadcast Pioneers, founded in 1942 by H. V. Kaltenborn, CBS and NBC radio commentator. The honor recognized Bill as one “who has served the great cause of broadcasting since 1958 and is hereby recognized as a Pioneer.”

Other Memoirs by William L. McGee

Montana Memoir: The Hardscrabble Years, 1925-1942 
Bluejacket Odyssey, 1942-1946
Operation Crossroads, Lest We Forget! 1946
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
Author, Publisher, Marketing Man, 1990-2015 (In the chute)


Editorial Reviews

Broadcasting & Cable

What readers are saying…

“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

“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 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