In Memorium: Entrepreneurs Who Died in 2009

Mark Rhodes
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Frank Batten Sr., Founder of the Weather Channel

Batten's fascination with weather dawned at age 8, when he rode out a hurricane in a seaside cottage; it deepened after he took up competitive sailing, and prompted him to create one of the most idiosyncratic and successful cable networks around. Batten started his career at the Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch, which his uncle owned. He took over as publisher in 1954 and, from that nucleus, built up Landmark Media Enterprises. Recognizing how much people depend on daily weather forecasts, Batten launched the Weather Channel in 1982; at the time critics joked that the Time Channel would come next showing a battery of ticking clocks. The channel owed its success to its local coverage and its supplementation of traditional advertising with cable subscriber fees. Batten retired in 1998 but remained a constant presence at Landmark until his death. Last year, Landmark sold the Weather Channel to NBC Universal for a reported $3.5 billion.