Frank Batten Launched Never-Ending Forecast


Frank Batten Sr.'s death last week, at age 82, prompted The Wire to re-scan his book, The Weather Channel: The Improbable Rise of a Media Phenomenon, written with Jeffrey L. Cruikshank (Harvard Business School Press, 2002).

There's a hilarious behind-the-scenes account of the Landmark Communications channel's official launch on May 2, 1982, at the National Show in Las Vegas.

A man later known as "the leprechaun," because no one was sure who he was or where he worked, played a key role in executing a complicated display that involved the main satellite signal from Atlanta and 12 different localized feeds.

After Landmark CEO Dubby Wynne announced the channel would launch with a then-record 4.2 million cable subscribers, Batten "made a few remarks, and then reached for a switch that would 'turn on' the service. 'Now I will throw a switch,' I intoned as dramatically as possible, 'to launch a weather forecast that will never end.' "

And it hasn't.