William S. Paley today handed the reins of CBS Inc. to Thomas H. Wyman, who became only the second chairman of the communications giant.
"It's sort of difficult to tell you what a jumble of emotions I feel at this time," Paley, 81, told shareholders. "The memories crowd in. The battles. The victories. The disappointments. The triumphs. And through it all, the people."
After his farewell address, the shareholders gave a standing ovation to Paley, who founded the company more than half a century ago.
Paley, who earlier had announced his retirement, noted in his farewell that "CBS has been more than just a part of my life. In many important ways, it has been my life.
"I'm proud of it from a business standpoint, proud of the way CBS has grown from its small beginnings to what it is today," Paley said. "I'm proud of what we've given to America--the music, the drama, the entertainment, the news and the coverage of public affairs--that have so greatly enriched the lives of so many people.
"Wherever CBS goes, my heart will go with it."
Wyman, as chairman of the board, announced that Paley would continue to serve CBS as a consultant, director and chairman of the board's executive committee.
"Bill Paley not only created this company, he also created much of the broadcastng industry," said Wyman. "And to it he brought an extraordinarily sensitive stewardship characterized by creativity, energy, integrity, style, wit and an enormous sense of the public interest."
Paley, the son of a cigar maker, became interested in radio in 1928 when he saw how sales of his father's La Palina cigars jumped following on-air advertising.
He bought what he called "a patchwork, money-losing little company called United Independent Broadcasters" and turned it into CBS, which now claims about 350 radio affliates and more than 200 television affliates.