EXPIRED: 09/10/09 – Frank Batten Sr., 82, published a little newspaper in Virginia at the age of 27 and went on to become the 190th richest person in America – mostly because he also started something called — the Weather Channel.
In the early 1900’s Batten’s uncle, Samuel Slover, began acquiring local Virginia area newspaper companies. Slover helped raise Batten after Batten’s father died when he was 1. Batten began his career as a reporter and advertising salesman for the papers and, in 1954, the 27-year-old Batten was appointed publisher of the now-defunct Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch and The Virginian-Pilot.
But that wasn’t enough. Batten was a visionary. he had a reputation for spotting media trends. For example, he was at the forefront of cable TV in the 1960s.
He developed The Weather Channel in the 1980s when nearly everyone else scoffed at the idea that people would watch programming devoted to round-the-clock weather. In 2008, the network was sold to NBC Universal for $3.5 billion.
With a fortune estimated at $2.3 billion, Batten ranked 190th on Forbes magazine’s 2008 list of the 400 richest Americans.