Don E. Gilman was the Western Division Manager of NBC in San Francisco. Gilman was recruited from a local advertising agency to head the operation in 1927. He was one of the best-known advertising men in the West and had been president of the Pacific Advertising Clubs Association.
CENTER: Gilman (left) with O. D. Fisher, the owner of KOMO, the NBC affiliate in Seattle.
"A tall, dark figure with a quick, quiet step and a countenance that sometimes looks like Abraham Lincoln and sometimes like Rachmaninoff, Don E. Gilman, Vice President in charge of the Western Division of the National Broadcasting Company has been engaged in the business of communicating ideas to large groups all his life. Born in Indianapolis of a newspaper family, by age 23 he was plant superintendent at the Indianapolis Sentinel. Then he came west and was superintendent of a group of papers on the coast before entering the advertising field. One of the outstanding qualities of NBC's western head, in all the enterprises in which he has engaged, has been his knowledge of the jobs of his subordinates and his ability to calculate the exact needs and values of each. Partially, this comes from the fact that he has performed many of their jobs himself, at one time or another, and partially from his uncanny faculty of collecting information without appearing to do so. This frequently baffles people who find it so hard to comprehend the source of his swift perception and dynamic energy, which is masked by a manner almost boyish in its simplicity and amiability.
"Characteristically, while he was becoming a dominant personality in the advertising field, serving as chairman on the committee which secured passage of California's Honest Advertising law, serving as president of the Pacific Advertising Clubs Association and vice president of the Associated Advertising Clubs of the World, he was continuing studies he had started years before in electrical engineering and was experimenting with radio for his own pleasure. So when he joined NBC in 1927 it was with an equipment of technical information which occasionally astonished engineers. In 1929 he was made vice president of the division, which now stretches from KGU in Honolulu to KGIR and KGHL in Montana - a domain whose needs in entertainment are necessarily its own since time difference shuts it off from much of the East's fare, and yet which has influenced other portions of the country in program technique.
"Like most successful men, Mr. Gilman has hobbies. He likes books and reads much biography and history, economics and sociology. He plays the piano as well as many of his artists, although few, except for close friends, ever hear him. He likes golf and football, especially in the company of a young man whom a whole continent knows and loves as Jack Barbour of 'One Man's Family', but who in private life is Page Gilman, the only son of the NBC executive.
"Mr. Gilman is president of the San Francisco Commercial Club, a director of the San Francisco Musical Association, and vice president of the Young Men's Christian Association. " - The NBC Transmitter, "Who's Who in the NBC Networks"