Robert Edward Turner III (born November 19, 1938) is an American media mogul and philanthropist. As a businessman, he is known as founder of the Cable News Network (CNN), the first 24-hour cable news channel. In addition, he founded WTBS, which pioneered the superstation concept in cable television.
As a philanthropist, he is known for his $1 billion gift to support the United Nations, which created the United Nations Foundation, a public charity to broaden domestic support for the UN. Turner serves as Chairman of the United Nations Foundation board of directors. Additionally, in 2001, Turner co-founded the Nuclear Threat Initiative with US Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA). NTI is a non-partisan organization dedicated to reducing global reliance on, and preventing the proliferation of, nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. He currently serves as Co-Chairman of the Board of Directors.
Turner’s media empire began with his father’s billboard business, Turner Outdoor Advertising, which he took over in 1963 after his father’s suicide. It was worth $1 million. His purchase of an Atlanta UHF station in 1970 began the Turner Broadcasting System. CNN revolutionized news media, covering the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986 and the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Turner turned the Atlanta Braves baseball team into a nationally popular franchise and launched the charitable Goodwill Games.
He helped revive interest in professional wrestling by buying World Championship Wrestling (WCW). Turner’s penchant for controversial statements earned him the nicknames “The Mouth of the South” and “Captain Outrageous”. Turner has also devoted his assets to environmental causes. He was the largest private landowner in the United States until John C. Malone surpassed him in 2011.He uses much of his land for ranches to re-popularize bison meat (for his Ted’s Montana Grill chain), amassing the largest herd in the world. He also created the environmental-themed animated series Captain Planet and the Planeteers.Early life.
Turner was born on November 19, 1938 in Cincinnati, Ohio,the son of Florence (née Rooney) and Robert Edward Turner II, a billboard magnate. When he was nine, his family moved to Savannah, Georgia. He attended The McCallie School, a private boys’ preparatory school in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Turner attended Brown University and was vice-president of the Brown Debating Union and captain of the sailing team.
He became a member of Kappa Sigma. Turner initially majored in Classics. Turner’s father wrote saying that his choice made him “appalled, even horrified”, and that he “almost puked”. Turner later changed his major to Economics, but before receiving a degree, he was expelled for having a female student in his dormitory room. Turner was awarded an honorary B.A. from Brown University in November 1989 when he returned to campus to keynote the National Association of College Broadcasters second annual conference.
After leaving Brown University, Turner returned to the South in late 1960 to become general manager of the Macon, Georgia branch of his father’s business. Following his father’s March 1963 suicide, Turner became president and chief executive of Turner Advertising Company when he was 24 and turned the firm into a global enterprise. He joined the Young Republicans, saying he “felt at ease among these budding conservatives and was merely following in Ed Turner’s far-right footsteps,” according to It Ain’t As Easy As It Looks.