Businessman and founder of The Weather Channel Frank Batten dies at 82

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Frank Batten, the businessman who founded The Weather Channel, has died at the age of 82. Batten died on September 10 after a long illness in Norfolk. He is survived by his wife Jane and two daughters. Batten started as a reporter and publisher and later ran a communications empire which included several newspapers and cable television.

The nephew of Samuel L. Slover, he assumed leadership of The Virginian-Pilot and The Ledger-Star in 1954. He opened up his own communications empire Landmark Communications and added The Greensboro Daily News and The Roanoke Times in 1965 and 1969. In 1964 Batten launched TeleCable and expanded cable into 15 States. He was the chairman of the Associated Press from 1982 to 1987.

On May 2, 1982, Batten launched The Weather Channel. Batten began to work on the idea after Good Morning America forecaster John Coleman suggested it. The channel broadcasts weather forecasts and weather related news 24 hours a day. Landmark sold the channel to NBC for $3.5 billion.

Batten was ranked 190th on the 2008 400 Richest Americans list with an estimated fortune of $2.3 billion. He graduated from the College of Arts & Sciences of the University of Virginia in 1950 and was a significant donor to that institution.