WarnerMedia names Techwood campus after Ted Turner, adds mural

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UGA creating Ted Turner gallery and scholarship

Originally posted Friday, December 6, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

WarnerMedia Friday named the Techwood Turner Broadcasting campus in Midtown after its founder Ted Turner, who showed up and spoke a few words. He lacks his old bluster but came with his signature honesty.

"I'm kind of overcome by this whole ceremony," said Turner, who at 81 years old is suffering from Lewy Body dementia. "Never have I  lived through something exactly like this. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Those of you who are with CNN now, carry it on. I'll be watching! I miss it. I didn't really leave because I wanted to. But anyway... here I am!"

The employees who were in the audience stood up and clapped wildly.

Turner stood in the same spot he did 40 years earlier boldly announcing the launch of CNN, which started at the Techwood campus for seven years before moving to CNN Center downtown.

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Credit: This video includes a shot of Turner from 1979 announcing CNN's creation.

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Credit: This video includes a shot of Turner from 1979 announcing CNN's creation.

Combined ShapeCaption

Credit: This video includes a shot of Turner from 1979 announcing CNN's creation.

Credit: This video includes a shot of Turner from 1979 announcing CNN's creation.

Turner Broadcasting was effectively broken up into three pieces earlier this year when new owners AT&T took over. The name itself is no longer being used and the "Turner Broadcasting" sign was taken down a few weeks ago from the main Techwood building.
But WarnerMedia held this ceremony to compensate for that move. The Techwood campus will now be known as the Ted Turner campus and WarnerMedia commissioned artist Jeks to paint a mural of Turner on the side of the main building.

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Credit: CR: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com. The Jeks Ted Turner mural on the side of the main Techwood building.

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Credit: CR: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com. The Jeks Ted Turner mural on the side of the main Techwood building.

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Credit: CR: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com. The Jeks Ted Turner mural on the side of the main Techwood building.

Credit: CR: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com. The Jeks Ted Turner mural on the side of the main Techwood building.

Turner family is also donating Ted Turner-related memorabilia to display permanently at Ted Turner Exhibition Hall and Gallery at the Richard B. Russell Jr. Special Collections library.

And WarnerMedia is donating $550,000 to the University of Georgia. Part of that will go to a special scholarship fund for needs-based students for incoming students at UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. WarnerMedia will also establish a Ted Turner Maverick internship position available exclusively to Grady College students starting in the summer of 2020.

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A woman takes a photo of a plaque on an AT&T WarnerMedia building dedicating it to Ted Turner, the founder of Turner Broadcasting System, on Friday, December 6, 2019, in Atlanta. (Elijah Nouvelage/Special to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Elijah Nouvelage

A woman takes a photo of a plaque on  an AT&T WarnerMedia building dedicating  it to Ted Turner, the founder of Turner Broadcasting System, on Friday, December 6, 2019, in Atlanta. (Elijah Nouvelage/Special to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Elijah Nouvelage

Combined ShapeCaption
A woman takes a photo of a plaque on an AT&T WarnerMedia building dedicating it to Ted Turner, the founder of Turner Broadcasting System, on Friday, December 6, 2019, in Atlanta. (Elijah Nouvelage/Special to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Elijah Nouvelage

Credit: Elijah Nouvelage

Among the attendees to the dedication were CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer (who Turned hired in 1990), current New York-based CNN president Jeff Zucker, past CNN president and Atlanta-based Tom Johnson (1990-2001) and former Atlanta-based Turner Broadcasting System CEO Phil Kent (2003-2013), who recently moved to New York himself.

“Ted started this and none of this would have happened without his vision and tenacity and audacity,” said Kent in an interview before the ceremony. “I don’t think there was a public corporation in America who would have started CNN based on the business plan at the time.”

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Credit: CR: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com. Former Turner Broadcasting CEO Phil Kent.

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Credit: CR: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com. Former Turner Broadcasting CEO Phil Kent.

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Credit: CR: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com. Former Turner Broadcasting CEO Phil Kent.

Credit: CR: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com. Former Turner Broadcasting CEO Phil Kent.

John Stankey, CEO of WarnerMedia, flew down from New York for the day as well. He recounted some of Turner's boldest moves: taking TBS station national, launching CNN, buying the MGM library before content became king, dedicating so much of his time and energy to the environment.

“Ted, you set an amazing example to all of us,” Stankey told Turner from the dais. “We needed to do something to mark the appropriateness and significance of your  challenge and what you’ve done. As a result of that, this facility will now be named in your honor. There are 5,000 energized, committed employees who come and try to work like you did in that that maverick spirit. They are the ones who bring life to this. This is in fact your campus, the place where you started this business.”

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AT&T president John Stankey speaks at a ceremony dedicating an AT&T WarnerMedia building to Mr. Turner, on Friday, December 6, 2019, in Atlanta. (Elijah Nouvelage/Special to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: CR: Elijah Nouvelage. John Stankey, CEO of WarnerMedia.

AT&T president John Stankey speaks at a ceremony dedicating an AT&T WarnerMedia building to Mr. Turner, on Friday, December 6, 2019, in Atlanta. (Elijah Nouvelage/Special to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: CR: Elijah Nouvelage. John Stankey, CEO of WarnerMedia.

Combined ShapeCaption
AT&T president John Stankey speaks at a ceremony dedicating an AT&T WarnerMedia building to Mr. Turner, on Friday, December 6, 2019, in Atlanta. (Elijah Nouvelage/Special to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: CR: Elijah Nouvelage. John Stankey, CEO of WarnerMedia.

Credit: CR: Elijah Nouvelage. John Stankey, CEO of WarnerMedia.

Lynne Russell, HLN's most prominent host from 1983 to 2001, and her husband and CNN correspondent Chuck De Caro were in attendance as well. Bill Tush, who was an integral part of Turner's TBS crew in the 1970s and a CNN fixture in the 1980s and 1990s, was on a cruise and missed the event.

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Lynne Russell is seen at a ceremony dedicating an AT&T WarnerMedia building to Ted Turner, the founder of Turner Broadcasting System, on Friday, December 6, 2019, in Atlanta. (Elijah Nouvelage/Special to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Elijah Nouvelage

Lynne Russell is seen at a ceremony dedicating an AT&T WarnerMedia building to Ted Turner, the founder of Turner Broadcasting System, on Friday, December 6, 2019, in Atlanta. (Elijah Nouvelage/Special to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Elijah Nouvelage

Combined ShapeCaption
Lynne Russell is seen at a ceremony dedicating an AT&T WarnerMedia building to Ted Turner, the founder of Turner Broadcasting System, on Friday, December 6, 2019, in Atlanta. (Elijah Nouvelage/Special to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Elijah Nouvelage

Credit: Elijah Nouvelage

Turner sold Turner Broadcasting System in 1996 to Time Warner but stayed on the board until 2006. AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner closed last year.