Willard (Bill) Franklin Shadel

1909 - 2005

Willard (Bill) Shadel, one of the 20th Century's most noted radio and television broadcast personalities, was also a pioneer broadcaster and ensemble conductors in Seventh-day Adventist colleges and universities. Born in Milton, Wisconsin, Shadel attended Emmanuel Missionary College, now Andrews University, in the late 1920's. While studying for his degree, he worked as assistant program manager for the college's radio station, caring for music presentations. He directed bands and choirs for both the station and the school during those years and performed as a soloist on marimba, piano, saxophone, and clarinet.

Shadel assumed direction of the college band and orchestra in his second year as a student. His work with these groups was an immediate hit with their members and the campus at large. He led the groups for a year following his graduation in 1933 and then left to lead the band, orchestra, and choirs at Washington Missionary College, now Washington Adventist University, in Washington, D.C.

The music groups at WMC flourished under his leadership, as they had at EMC. When he abruptly resigned in January 1937 to pursue his interests in radio, the students were upset. According to the school paper the situation was alleviated by "the condescension of Professor Shadel" to continue conducting the choral groups to the end of the school year.

Within a decade of that decision, Shadel had established a national reputation in radio. In 1943 he traveled to Europe, where he was recruited by Edward R. Murrow to help CBS cover World War II. Out of more than 500 U.S. reporters in Europe, he was among a select group of 28 to give firsthand reports on the D-Day landings at Normandy. He and Murrow were the first two reporters to witness the horrors of the Buchenwald concentration camp. His graphic reporting of what he saw would earn him a "Witness to the Truth" award in1990 from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and tapes of his wartime broadcasts would be used as teaching tools at several schools of journalism.

Following the end of the war in 1945, he began a career in television, working with Walter Cronkite, who at that time was anchor for a local station in Washington, D.C. He eventually would help launch the Face the Nation program, serving as its first host; anchor the ABC Evening News; moderate the third in a series of debates between Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy in 1960, the first televised presidential debates; and cover John Glenn's first space flight in 1962.

By the time of his retirement from television in 1963, Shadel had worked with 20th century television legends Murrow, Cronkite, Eric Sevareid and Howard K Smith. He then taught journalism at the University of Washington for twelve years before fully retiring in 1975. Andrews University honored him in 1983 for his broadcasting career.

Shadel was living in Renton, Washington, at the time of his death at age 96.


Sources: The Emmanuel Missionary College Student Movement: 18 April, 1, and 24 October 1929, 1; 24 April, 8 May, 16 October, and 17 December, 1 1930; the EMC 1930, 1931, and 1932 yearbooks, Cardinal; Washington Missionary College Sligonian, 1 November and 20 December 1935; 28 February 1936, 1; Andrews University Focus, Fall 1993; KOMO TV news services (Seattle), 31 January 2005.