There are so many people that we can recognize from over the years for helping to contribute to build the city of Atlanta to what we have grown to see the city evolve into today. Everyone from Maynard Jackson, Martin Luther King Jr, Shirley Franklin, John Lewis, Marvin Arrington Sr, Cynthia McKinney, Mary Norwood, Andrew Young, Sam Massell, Hank Aaron, John Wesley Dobbs, and even the likes of Babyface, L.A. Reid, Jermaine Dupri, Dallas Austin, and perhaps even Nikki (inside joke only old Atlanta folks would know about).
But there is one person that seldom gets recognized among today’s popular mentions for his contribution to yesterday’s Atlanta, Robert Edward Turner III, aka… Ted Turner.
Throughout the 80s and 90s, Turner was the face of Atlanta, the official unofficial ambassador of the A.T.L. As the founder of the Atlanta based organizations: Cable News Network (CNN [the first 24-hour news network), TBS (Turner Broadcasting Systems), the owner of the Atlanta Braves and the Atlanta Hawks and much more. The man was everywhere in Atlanta, you couldn’t miss him.
In 1996, during my junior year in high school, the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium was closed, and the new home of the Atlanta Braves was opened, Turner Field. Named after Ted Turner himself, Turner Field was an awesome legacy dedicated to Turner as the former owner of the Atlanta Braves. As a teen, there wasn’t a day that I looked forward to going to work to see my favorite all-time baseball player, Kenny Lofton, come to Atlanta and play for the Braves. Watching Andruw Jones, Michael Tucker, Chipper Jones, Fred McGriff, Javy Lopez, Eddie Perez, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and of course my homeboy… Greg Maddux; whenever he pitched EVERYONE knew we were having a short game and going home early.
And there was Ted Turner himself always sitting close by with a cup of beer in his hand, and sometimes with Jane Fonda by his side enjoying the game with him.
Sometime later in 1996, Turner sold Turner to Warner, TimeWarner that is. Turner became TimeWarner largest individual shareholder and a member of their board. Over the years TimeWarner became involved in several mergers that involved AOL (America Online) and just recently AT&T.
Now the official unofficial ambassador of Atlanta is slowly seeing his name vanish from the facades buildings that he worked so hard to establish over these past 50 years. AT&T has recently announced that they are dissolving the Turner name and merger its subsidies under one of two entities of WarnerMedia: WarnerMedia Entertainment and WarnerMedia News & Sports.
We are entering a new era with a new generation of people who may not have any idea of who Turner is. Thought it’s been well over 20 years since Turner owned any of the Turner brands. I personally don’t know what the city of Atlanta would be like without his rebellion in media and entertainment. His ability to set new trends and lead the pack. As the founder of Art, Trade & Lifestyle Media Group, Inc, I was inspired as a kid by Turner’s innovative ways and named our online streaming outlet A.T.L. SuperStation as a dedication to him. I remember when I was barely a teen residing in Asheville, North Carolina, there was a company in my neighborhood at the bottom of the hill at College/MLK intersection. They designed their hedges to show “TBS.” For years, I thought that the TBS SuperStation was based in Asheville, and I would tell myself that I am going to work there one day.
But at the age 17, I moved to Decatur, Georgia, and found myself at CNN Center EVERYDAY trying to get a job within the Turner Broadcasting System organization. Luckily, I was able to land a job at Turner Field and spend five or so years meeting and working with some of the best people ever, and adoring the best MLB team of my generation, the Atlanta Braves.
Today Turner is the private owner of Turner Enterprises, Inc (TEI) that owns over 2,000,000 acres of land throughout the world that he dedicates to ecotourism, environmental research, the growth of American Bison and many progressive projects. TEI manages Ted’s Montana Grill with 44 locations in 14 states. Headquartered in downtown Atlanta on Luckie Street just a block or two away from the CNN headquarters.
As the Turner name slowly vanishes before our very own eyes due to the TimeWarner’s merger with AT&T, the legacy of a man that also helped build Atlanta to what we know as today slowly vanishes as well. The entire metro Atlanta community wants to thank Robert Edward Turner III for all he has done for the city, and for all that he has helped us to become… “Atlanta, the SuperCity that Turner Built.”