NPR logo Frank Batten, Civil Rights Champion & Weather Channel Founder, Has Died

Economy

Frank Batten, Civil Rights Champion & Weather Channel Founder, Has Died

He made The Weather Channel work. AP photo. hide caption

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AP photo.

He made The Weather Channel work.

AP photo.

There's sad news from Norfolk, Va.: Frank Batten Sr., 82, died today.

One of the news outlets he led, The Virginia-Pilot, summarizes what sounds like a well-lived life:

He was a son of privilege, the heir to a family fortune, a man whose life, in other hands, might have been measured in dollars and cents.

Instead, Frank Batten forged a legacy not on what he made but what he created.

From errand boy he rose to publisher of The Virginian-Pilot and its afternoon sister, then parlayed his newspapers into an adventuresome media company with global reach. He helped lead the fight for integrated schools in Norfolk, midwifed Old Dominion University into being, commanded The Associated Press and its far-flung correspondents, and defied a legion of doubters to create The Weather Channel.

According to the AP, Batten died after a "prolonged illness." The wire service also writes that:

In the late 1950s, when Norfolk closed its schools rather than integrate them, Batten (then the Virginian-Pilot's publisher) and other community leaders ran a full-page newspaper advertisement urging city officials to reopen them. Virginian-Pilot editor Lenoir Chambers won a Pulitzer Prize in 1960 for a series of editorials on the situation.

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