Edward R. Murrow Becomes Director of European Operations for CBS
Murrow went to London in 1937 to serve as the director of CBS' European operations.
The position did not involve on air reporting; Murrow's job was persuading European figures to broadcast over the CBS network which was in direct competition with NBC's two radio networks. Murrow recruited journalist William L. Shirer to take a similar post on the continent. The two men would become the forefathers of broadcast journalism.
Shirer was hired in 1934 for the Berlin bureau of the Universal News Service, which was one of William Randolph Hearst's two wire services. In Berlin Diary, Shirer described this move, in a self-proclaimed bad pun, as going from “bad to Hearst”. When Universal Service folded in August 1937, Shirer was first taken on as second man by Hearst's other wire service, International News Service, and then laid off a few weeks later.
On the very day when Shirer received his two weeks' notice from INS, he also received what was to be a fateful wire from Edward R. Murrow, European manager of Columbia Broadcasting System, suggesting that the two men meet. At their meeting a few days later in Berlin, Murrow commented that he couldn't cover all of Europe from his London office and indicated that he was seeking an experienced correspondent to open a CBS office on the Continent. He offered Shirer the job on the spot, subject to an audition — a "trial broadcast" — to allow the CBS directors and vice presidents in New York to judge whether Shirer's voice was suitable for radio.
In spite of Shirer's fears that his reedy voice was unsuitable for radio, he was hired by CBS. As "European bureau chief" for CBS, Shirer set up headquarters in Vienna, a more central (and more neutral) spot than Berlin. Shirer's job was to arrange broadcasts and, early in his career with CBS, expressed his disappointment at having to hire newspaper correspondents to do the actual broadcasting; at the time, CBS correspondents were prohibited from speaking on the radio themselves.
Shirer was the first of the group that would be called "Murrow's Boys" — the groundbreaking broadcast journalists who provided outstanding news coverage during World War II and afterward.