Ted Turner is suffering from dementia. I have always admired that man for his foresight. The only criticism I have is his short marriage to Jane Fonda, the t bitch of Vietnam. Turner is a complex and fascinatingly odd individual. For those of you who appreciate sailing, Ted Turner took an old used sailboat and WON the America’s Cup when sailboats still look like boats and not airplanes.
When he took his little UHF TV station and put it on a satellite and renamed it the “Super Station” I said, “Who in Idaho or Utah is going to watch old movies all night long?” I didn’t think it would last a year. A buddy and I rode our Harleys from Atlanta to Minneapolis one spring. We took the back roads and stopped in all the little towns. When people saw our license tags, they invariable said, “Oh, you guys are from the city of the Super Station.”
When Turner started CNN I said, “Nobody wants to watch news 24 hours a day. Chet Huntley and David Brinkley could do all the news in 15 minutes!” Of course, CNN led the way for all the 24 hour cable news networks that are on now. Turner was so far ahead, in his thinking, of everything it is really remarkable. I was no dummy, but he was never afraid to try something new and he out guessed me every time.
My personal experience with Turner was typical. I was unhappy with the low wages of WSB-TV and somehow Turner learned of my dissatisfaction. He called and wanted to meet with me, he said, “About that.” I assumed he was going to offer me a job. Then he said he had an interview on WSB radio and we could talk then. I finished my 7 o’clock work and went over to the radio side. Turner came out of the studio and said he had to run downtown and we could talk on the way. He had an old rattle-trap of a car but we rode to a hotel in midtown Atlanta. He never mentioned offering me a job on the way. We chatted about the America’s Cup win and the weather. When we got to the hotel, he went up to the desk clerk and asked, “Has Miss So & So checked in?” and the clerk verified that whoever the woman was, she was there. Turner than asked me, “Can you get a ride back to the station?” I said, “Sure” and went out and caught a taxi. HE NEVER MENTIONED A JOB OR WHATEVER HE HAD CALLED ME ABOUT. That was my last encounter with Ted Turner.
It is sad that a man with that much daring and forethought is slowly losing his brain functions. He was the kind of man who always said, “Let’s try this” when I am sure his advisors told him it wouldn’t work. And he was always right. How many of us can say that about ourselves?