I Looked and I Listened, Ben Gross, 1954, page 100:
NBC's first president, Merlin H. Aylesworth, was even more widely known by his nickname of Deac. Just before he had assumed his fifty-thousand-dollar-a-year job, he had been so little interested in radio that he did not even have a receiving set. But as managing director of the National Electric Light Association, he had proved himself to be a first-rate executive and had gained the friendship of political and financial leaders throughout the country. George McClelland, the corporation's executive vice-president, Mark Woods, its treasurer (later president of ABC), and O. B. Hanson (later vice-president in charge of NBC engineering) were all ardent broadcasting enthusiasts.
These facts, in disorderly array, were flashing through my mind when, suddenly, all of us in the Grand Ballroom were called to attention by a blare of trumpets. The clock on the balcony indicated exactly 8:05 P.M. and a few moments later Aylesworth began to speak. Tall, suave and with smiling eyes, he told his guests that this inaugural program would be carried by twenty-four stations. "Think of it!" he said. "Ten or maybe even twelve million persons may be hearing what takes place in this ballroom tonight!" A murmur swept the audience.
Deac was not only an executive with a sense of public services but one of the greatest salesmen this country has ever produced. If there is one man who may be said to have "put over" broadcasting with both the public and the sponsors, it is this first president of NBC. I can still recall the elation with which he informed me that he had just sold time to the Cities Service and the American Tobacco Company, two of his networks' most profitable advertisers. But he was just as enthusiastic when he spoke of the cultural and educational programs for which he was responsible: Dr. Walter Damrosch's "Music Appreciation Hour," "The National Farm and Home Hour" (the first great agricultural series of radio) and the broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera Company.
One of the first fruits of Deac's efforts was the gala opening at Carnegie Hall, on the night of February 18, 1927, of the Cities Service program, which is now radio's oldest sponsored network show. There were a great deal of hullabaloo, pretentious formality and more uniformed flunkies than in the palace of a Latin-American dictator. But a full-dress audience gave an ovation to Edwin Franko Goldman's band, which was starred in the series.
The program included such old warhorses as Liszt's "Second Hungarian Rhapsody," and the William Tell overture and also excerpts from Faust and the overture to Mignon. Goldman had played these numbers repeatedly during his New York concerts, but certain NBC executives wondered if his selections weren't "pretty highbrow" for a popular type of sponsored program. One of the network's vice-presidents remarked to me: "I sure hope this music isn't above their heads!" What would he have said if someone had told him that there would be a time when even on sponsored concerts one might hear compositions of Igor Stravinsky, Arnold Schoenberg and Darius Milhaud?