- Frank Batten
Frank Batten (1927- ) is a communications entrepreneur who began his career when he assumed leadership of his uncle Samuel L. Slover's newspaper, "
The Virginian-Pilot" and "The Ledger-Star" in Norfolk, Virginiaat age 27 in 1954. Batten grew his uncle's business by acquiring additional newspapers, radio stations, and television stations, as well as founding a new cable station The Weather Channel. These various businesses prompted the creation of Landmark Communications, a privately held media company known for its ethical conduct.
Frank Batten attended the
Culver Academiesas a young man. He later received his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginiain Charlottesville, Virginia, and his MBA from Harvardin 1952.
During his early days as Publisher of "
The Virginian-Pilot", Frank Batten championed desegregation, a position not often taken in the state of Virginia during the 1950s; Virginia, like much of the American South, was undergoing deep resistance to the movement. In 1960 "The Virginian-Pilot" received a Pulitzer Prizefor articles written in support of desegregation.
In 1965 Batten acquired "
The Greensboro Daily News", adding another daily metro newspaper to his burgeoning media company, Landmark Communications. " The Roanoke Times" was added soon after, in 1969. Together with " The Virginian-Pilot", these three papers make up the core of the Landmark Publishing business. Under Landmark Publishing many other papers were started and acquired, including dailies, weeklies, community papers, and military papers across the southern and western parts of the United States. Batten was also chairman of the Associated Press from 1982 to 1987.
Birth of The Weather Channel
The Weather Channel (United States)"
During his time with "The Virginian-Pilot", Batten learned that many readers bought the newspaper with one of their main purposes being to find out about the weather. When the idea was broached to him about starting a 24-hour cable weather station by John Coleman, former
WLS-TVChicago chief meteorologist and Good Morning Americaforecaster, Batten jumped at the opportunity.
The Weather Channel was launched on May 2, 1982 after only 10 months from concept to being on air. Although this venture was met with widespread criticism, The Weather Channel thrived after an initial bumpy few years and now includes [http://www.weather.com Weather.com] , which receives more than 300 million hits per month.
Batten wrote a book on his experience founding The Weather Channel titled "The Weather Channel: The Improbable Rise of a Media Phenomenon" (published in time for the channel's 20th anniversary year of 2002).
With a strong commitment to education, Batten became the first Rector of
Old Dominion Universityin Norfolk, Virginia. He has also served on the boards of the College of William and Maryand Hollins College, and was Vice Chairmain of Virginia's State Council of Higher Education. He continues to give generously to schools and institutions, including $32 million to the Harvard Business School, $60 million to the Darden Graduate School of Business in Virginia, and various scholarships such as the Batten Scholarship at the Culver Academies. On April 12, 2007, Batten made a gift of $100 million dollars to the University of Virginia, the largest gift in the University's history, to establish the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.
Frank Batten resides in
Virginia Beach, Virginiawith his wife Jane. They have three children including Frank Batten, Jr., who succeeded his father's place as Chairman and CEO of Landmark Communicationsin 1998.
In 2005 Frank Batten was listed as the 235th richest man in the United States, according to Forbes 400, with a net worth of approximately $1.4 billion.
* [http://www.weather.com/ Weather.Com]
* [http://www.hbs.edu/entrepreneurs/frankbatten.html Profile] - Harvard Business School
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