Here's a bio of Ben Gimbel written in 1959.
Benedict Gimbel, Jr., president and general manager of Ph1ladelphia's Radio Station WIP, has a definite philosophy for station operation. "I like to run WIP as though it were the only radio station in Philadelphia," he says, One of radio's pioneers, he has been with WIP since it was, in truth, one of the first stations in Philadelphia.
Mr. Gimbel, a member of the prominent mercantile family, cast his lot with the infant broadcasting industry 38 years ago, when he resigned as vice president and board member of Gimbel Brothers in Philadelphia to join the new company owned station.
Started as an adjunct of the advertising department of the store, WIP offered a challenge to Ben Gimbel. The exciting new medium seemed, in his own words, "a combination of show business and advertising." The excitement of radio has never left Mr. Gimbel. Combining a showman's flare with a businessman’s judgment, Mr. Gimbel has guided WIP through almost 38 years of change in- the industry, in the city, and in the world. In fact, even the ownership of WIP changed when, under his leadership, a group of businessmen, headed by Gimbel, and including his good friend Bob Hope, bought WIP from Gimbel Brothers in September 1958, for $2,500,000.
A native Philadelphian, Ben Gimbel was educated in the Philadelphia public schools and at Thorpe School in Stamford, Connecticut and La Villa, in Lausanne, Switzerland. He left the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in his sophomore year to enter the Army in World War I. Discharged with the rank of sergeant, he returned to college and was graduated from the Wharton School. He began his business career at Gimbel Brothers in Philadelphia, working his way through many departments to an executive position.
His department store training has always stood Ben Gimbel in good stead. A recent article in Variety, the trade journal of show business, stated that Ben Gimbel runs WIP "with the experienced eye of a retailer...by stocking something within the reach of everyone."
A born showman as well as an astute businessman, Mr. Gimbel's name is almost as synonymous with opening nights in Philadelphia as it is with radio itself. His personal guest book, containing the names of hundreds of his show business friends, and his many books about the theatre, together with his collection of over 1,500 autographed photographs of celebrities, form a reference library of unusual interest.
Ben Gimbel's collections are indicative of his many interests. His collection of antique moustache cups has been the basis of a Sunday feature in the Philadelphia Inquirer magazine, and has been borrowed for special displays. His collection of records is the envy of experts, and his collection of fire helmets includes some from cities as far away as Tokyo.
A serious student of etymology, Mr. Gimbel has a library of dictionaries and reference books containing more than a hundred volumes, including an unusual research library on curious and little known facts.
An inveterate "fire buff," Mr. Gimbel is called by the station at all hours and notified of all multiple—alarm fires. Understandably, he is an honorary fire chief of the Philadelphia Fire Department.
Mr. Gimbel finds time to integrate himself into the civic life of the community, serving actively on innumerable boards and committees. These include the following: Child Welfare Advisory Board, Crime ¤Prevention Association, Police Athletic League, Citizens' Council on Fire Prevention and Junior Achievement. He is a director of the World Affairs Council, and is chairman of that organization's "Decisions, l960" program.
Mr. Gimbel holds the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Lincoln University. He has been the recipient of many honors both in Philadelphia and other cities. The latest of these includes citations from City Council and from the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia for the public service program, "Search for Peace." This program, developed under Mr. Gimbel's guidance and distributed to stations throughout the world, won a "Golden Mike" from McCall's, and was the subject of statements of praise on the floors of both houses of Congress.
`Mr. Gimbel, himself, was acclaimed by Senator Hugh Scott (R., Pa.) in a speech on the floor ·of the United States Senate for "placing the public good above gain, in the finest traditions of the broadcast industry."
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
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