Frank Batten


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, Virginia at 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.

Early life

Frank Batten attended the Culver Academies as a young man. He later received his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia, and his MBA from Harvard in 1952.

The Virginian-Pilot

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 Prize for articles written in support of desegregation.

Media Acquisitions

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

"Main Article: 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-TV Chicago chief meteorologist and Good Morning America forecaster, 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).

Philanthropy

With a strong commitment to education, Batten became the first Rector of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. He has also served on the boards of the College of William and Mary and 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.

Personal life

Frank Batten resides in Virginia Beach, Virginia with his wife Jane. They have three children including Frank Batten, Jr., who succeeded his father's place as Chairman and CEO of Landmark Communications in 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.

External links

* [http://www.weather.com/ Weather.Com]
* [http://www.hbs.edu/entrepreneurs/frankbatten.html Profile] - Harvard Business School


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