Vox Populi: The O'Shaughnessy Files

By William O’Shaughnessy | Go to book overview

LAWRENCE BRUCE TAISHOFF (1933–2006)

Eulogy by Don West, president, Library of American
Broadcasting.

It is impossible to talk about Larry without speaking in the same breath about his father, Sol, and of Broadcasting magazine, inspired by both of them. All three were inseparable. Sol was first generation, an immigrant in swaddling clothes. Larry was second generation and literally lived in the fast lane, a flamboyant Jay Gatsby, tooling around in a British sports car.

I’ve always been struck by the parallels between the Taishoffs and the Paley family of CBS. Sam Paley, father of the founder, was born in the Ukraine and began a successful cigar company after coming here. Sol had lived nearby in Russia—he would often say he was from Minsk while RCA’s David Sarnoff was from Pinsk—and created one of this country’s most successful journalistic enterprises. Bill Paley, the son, used his father’s fortune to create a communications empire while Larry Taishoff, the son, turned a modest success into a spectacular one.

Larry served as a paratrooper in the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, stationed in Germany during the 1950s. He graduated from Duke University, where he was a varsity swimmer, and later endowed a new swimming facility there, the Taishoff Aquatics Pavilion. He served as a director at his first broadcasting-industry job at WTOP-TV in Washington. But soon he was at Broadcasting magazine as an apprentice, instructed by his father in every phase of the operation.

Larry flourished on the business side and eventually became president and publisher. He also inherited the family’s outside interests, primarily in real estate. DeSales Street, the one-block-long passage alongside the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, became an industry hub after Broadcasting moved there in1953. The magazine later built its own seven-story building on the street, widely acclaimed as an architectural gem.

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