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Frank Batten (American billionaire) Bio, Facts. 

Frank Batten

Born Name: Frank Batten
Date of Birth: February 11, 1927
Place of Birth: Norfolk, Virginia, United States
Died: September 10, 2009 (aged 82), Downtown, Norfolk, Virginia, United States
Alma mater: Culver Academies, University of Virginia (undergraduate), Harvard (MBA)
Occupation: Chairman and CEO,
Landmark Communications
Net worth: US$2.3 billion (2007)
Spouse: Jane Batten (m. 1957)
Children: Frank Batten, Jr., Dorothy Batten, Mary Elizabeth Batten
Parent(s): Frank Batten, Dorothy Martin Batten
Frank Batten (February 11, 1927 – September 10, 2009) was a co-founder of the first nationwide, 24-hour cable weather channel, The Weather Channel. His media company, Landmark Media Enterprises, once owned nine daily newspapers, more than 50 weekly newspapers, television stations in Las Vegas and Nashville, and a national chain of classified advertising publications.

Batten assumed leadership in 1954 of two newspapers, The Virginian-Pilot and The Ledger-Star in Norfolk, Virginia, parlaying those papers into a media conglomerate by acquiring other newspapers, radio stations, and television stations and establishing a cable outlet as well as the national cable weather channel. Until 2008, the company, Landmark Communications, now Landmark Media Enterprises, was one of the country’s largest privately held media companies.

Batten sold TeleCable (a multi-system cable TV company) in 1995 to TCI for $1 billion and the Weather Channel in 2008 to NBC Universal and two private equity firms for nearly $3.5 billion.

Batten served as chairman of the Associated Press from 1982 to 1987.

Early life
Batten was born on February 11, 1927 to Frank Batten, a bank auditor, and Dorothy Martin Batten, the daughter of a wealthy Norfolk family. After the death of his father the following year, Batten and his mother moved in with his aunt and uncle, Fay and Samuel L. Slover. A Jewish native of Tennessee, Slover had taken ownership of a newspaper in Newport News, Virginia, which he sold in 1907 to buy what would become the Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch. Themselves childless, the Slovers raised young Frank as their own son.

Batten attended the Culver Academies, a boarding school in Indiana, to graduate in 1945 and later attend the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He then received his MBA from Harvard in 1952.

The Virginian-Pilot
Batten professionalized the newspaper he inherited in 1954 at age 27, and went on to acquire the Portsmouth Star, which he later merged with the Ledger-Dispatch to form the Ledger-Star. During his early days as publisher of The Virginian-Pilot, 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 racial desegregation.

Media acquisitions
In 1965 Batten acquired The Greensboro Daily News and The Greensboro Record, adding The Roanoke Times in 1969. Together with The Virginian-Pilot, these papers made 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.

Birth of The Weather Channel
When John Coleman, former WLS-TV Chicago chief meteorologist and Good Morning America forecaster, suggested creating a 24-hour cable weather station, the idea confirmed what Batten had learned at The Virginian-Pilot, that readers prioritized weather information as a primary reason for purchasing the daily paper.

The Weather Channel debuted on May 2, 1982, after 10 months in development. Although initially criticized, The Weather Channel ultimately thrived and expanded to include its sister web site,, which receives more than 300 million visits per month.

In 2002, on its 20th anniversary, Batten co-authored The Weather Channel: The Improbable Rise of a Media Phenomenon, recounting the creation of The Weather Channel.

Batten became the first Rector of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, served on the boards of the College of William and Mary and Hollins University, and served as Vice Chairman of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

His gifts to schools and institutions include $32 million to the Harvard Business School, $60 million to the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia, $32 million to Old Dominion University, and various scholarships, such as the Batten Scholarship at the Culver Academies. On April 12, 2007, Batten made a gift of $100 million to the University of Virginia, the largest gift in the University's history, to establish the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, and in 2006, $2 million to Hollins University.

Batten donated to the Norfolk Academy, for the school's library, as well as to the City of Norfolk for a new downtown library.

In 2009, he also started the $50 million Batten Challenge at the Culver Academies, where he would match every dollar donated to the school during 2009-2010 with a dollar of his own.

Personal life
Frank Batten lived in Virginia Beach, Virginia with his wife Jane Parke Batten. They had two daughters, Mary Elizabeth and Dorothy, and son Frank Batten, Jr., who succeeded his father as Chairman and CEO of Landmark Communications on January 1, 1998, and has been leading Sunday night Bible study group at Tabernacle Church of Norfolk.

In 2007 Frank Batten was listed as the 190th richest person in the United States, according to Forbes 400, with a net worth of approximately $2.3 billion.

Batten owned one of the Chesapeake Bay's largest racing yachts, the Shadow.

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Categories: American billionaires,American newspaper chain founders,20th-century American newspaper publishers (people),American television company founders,1927 births,Harvard Business School alumni,People from Norfolk, Virginia,University of Virginia alumni,2009 deaths,Journalists from Virginia

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