Paley became interested in radio through developing ads for his family's cigar business in Chicago. He invested in Columbia Phonographic Broadcasting System, a small radio network, and became its president in 1928. Paley gave affiliated stations free proframming in return for their agreement to broadcast sponsored shows at particular times, expanding the network from 22 stations to 114 stations in a decade.
CBS expanded into TV and early through Paley's strong, some would say ruthless, maneuvering rode the post-World War II boom in that medium to pass NBC, which had dominated radio. Paley became the best-known executive in network television, personifying the control and vision which marked the industry through its heydey of the 1980s.
CBS was bought by Westinghouse Electric Corporation in 1995, and by Viacom Inc. in 2000.
The Museum of Television & Radio hosts an annual panel series, with casts and crews from new series, that is named after Paley.