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Media Moguls: Ted Turner

Robert Edward “Ted” Turner III was born on November 19 1938 in Cincinnati, Ohio and was the oldest child of Ed and Florence Turner. When he was nine years old, Ed Turner moved the family to Savannah, Georgia where he had acquired an outdoor billboard company that was renamed The Turner Advertising Company. Discipline in the Turner household was very strict. At his father’s insistence, the young Turner was required to learn every aspect of the family business, from maintenance to accounting. With the family business prospering, Ed Turner rewarded his son with the gift of sailing when Ted was nine years old. Turner soon developed a passion for sailboat racing and by age eleven he was competing in Savannah’s junior regatta.

Still an ever demanding father, Turner at age twelve was sent to military schools in Georgia and Tennessee. In 1951 he was sent to the McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In his first years there Turner loathed the school’s discipline code, yet he emerged as a leader amongst his classmates and helped his school to win the Tennessee debating championship. During the summers Turner continued to work in his father’s billboard business and by the end of his teens he had become an effective salesman. Initially Turner wanted to go to the Naval Academy but his father persuaded him to go to Brown University where he could study business. At Brown University Turner was vice president of the debating team and captain of the sailing team. The rebellious Turner studied the classics and was an avid reader of military history, to the disgust of his father. Although he excelled in his studies and extracurricular activities, Turner was soon expelled from Brown University for entertaining a female companion in his dormitory room which was against college regulations.

In late 1960 after a short stint with the Coast Guard, Turner returned to Georgia to work as a general manager of the Macon, Georgia branch of his father’s advertising business. In the wake of a troubling marriage and his sister’s death to illness, Turner immerged himself into his work and soon his father promoted him to assistant manager of Turner Advertising’s Atlanta branch. Fuelling this economic growth, the senior Turner took on large amounts of debt to buy out a competitor. With his health failing and the recent pressures of the merger bearing down on him, he committed suicide on March 5, 1963. At age 24 Turner inherited a struggling business that was quickly growing but heavily indebted. In order to return the company to a profitable enterprise, Turner immediately began working on the firm’s cash flows.

Turner worked endlessly, offering customers a discount for early payment which increased his cash on hand and allowed the company to expand its operations. In a few years Turner had reversed the company’s sagging fortunes and stabilized it to become the largest billboard company in the south east. However, Ted Turner soon recognized that his billboard customers were allocating larger shares of their advertising budgets to radio and television. He began looking for opportunities in the broadcast market and in the late 1960s Turner used profits from Turner Advertising Company to buy Southern radio stations.

Monday Morning(ish) Musing: The future-present of pop culture

On like an apple

A different-from-usual topic today: technology.

This week my Chromecast dongle** arrived, and we got to play with it this weekend. So far, we have used it to stream YouTube videos to the TV. Mostly, these were videos about the game Minecraft**, which my sons love to watch. [**Note: for those unfamiliar with Minecraft or Chromecast, at the end of this post I have given some background information that you can go read, and then pop back up.]

We have for a few years now been one of the (fast-growing) "streaming-only" TV families. This means, we have no cable. In fact, we don't watch regular TV. I suppose we could get regular broadcast channels, but why? Between Netflix, Amazon Prime, and DVD/Bluray, we have more to watch than we ever could. With no commercials. (The only downside to which seems to be that when we are watching regular TV at someone else's home, my boys find the commercials more interesting than anything else. Kids and novelty, sigh.)

In addition to streaming to the TV, though, my boys sometimes want to watch videos on YouTube, on a computer. At first most of these were funny and marginally-inappropriate videos they found out about at a friend's house or something. Nowadays, though, mostly the boys want to watch YouTube "channels" about Minecraft and/or other video games.

When we first started playing Minecraft, my older son found a great set of "introduction to Minecraft" videos called "Survive and Thrive." Visiting it just now, I see that in just the year since we first found it, the channel has gotten way swankier and more elaborate.

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