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Ted Turner provides ‘Master Class’ on OWN Sunday, Jan. 29


Over the years, Ted Turner has been scrutinized in multiple biographies, autobiographies and documentaries. There really aren’t many secrets left about him.

But if you want a quick, selective overview of the Atlanta mogul, Turner’s offering a “Master Class” Sunday at 10 p.m. on the OWN Network. It’s part of a series created and hosted by Oprah Winfrey in which celebrities, in their own words, offer life lessons.

“Ted has gone with his gut but has always done his homework,” Winfrey said on the show, which I previewed today. “That combination never let him down.”

While the 72-yaer-old’s story is fascinating, his life lessons are not too surprising. Work harder. Then work harder. Bounce back even after you’ve been knocked down. On his desk, he has the saying: “Either lead, follow or get out of the way.

Do research and seek holes in the market. That’s why he created TBS Superstation, bought the Atlanta Braves for $10 million to fill TBS with content, then started CNN in 1980.

“If Alexander the Great could conquer the known world, why couldn’t I start CNN?’ he said with that classic twinkle in his eye.

He also said to follow through on promises. He announced in July, 1979 that he’d launch CNN June 1, 1980 and he pulled it off. “If you piddle around,” he said, “someone else will beat you to it.”

Turner takes pride in being ethical. “I’ve never been indicted or accused of anything,” he said. “None of my previous partners, nobody would tell you Ted Turner took advantage of them or pulled a fast one.” He then quotes Shakespeare:

Mine honour is my life; both grow in one; take honour from me and my life is done.

Turner recounted his time in competitive yachting, reaching the pinnacle of winning the America’s Cup. He compared running a boat to running a business. “You have to ride it out the best you can,” he said. “If you panic, it’s a good way to lose. You have to stay in control.”

First Look: Oprah’s Master Class with Ted Turner

He also likes to try to turn enemies into friends. He cited buddying up to Cuban dictator Fidel Castro in the early 1980s as CNN was in its infancy. Later in the decade, he created the Goodwill Games as an alternative to the Olympics, which was not really a financial success but a moral one in his mind.

One interesting lesson: his dad had reached his material goals when he was relatively young and ended up committing suicide. He told Ted to reach for goals well beyond what he could do in a lifetime. The would keep him striving. So Ted wants world peace (thus, the $1 billion donation to the United Nations) and complete nuclear disarmament.

He of course is best known for his environmental work. He prides himself on saving the bison.  In the program,h e describes creating a huge ranch without using pesticides and allowing predators like grizzly bears to roam. (Interestingly, his bison restaurants are never referenced.)

“He may think of himself as mainstream,” Oprah said at the end of the hour. “But to us, Ted’s a trail-blazing master. He revolutionized the way we watch television and the way we see the world.”

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By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk

18 comments Add your comment

Jim H.

January 26th, 2012
3:57 pm

He’s liberal, atheist wack-a-doodle……(good baseball team owner though)

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January 26th, 2012
5:27 pm

Ted Turner is a honorable man who has a conscience. That’s something which is missing in many of our public figures these days.

He cares about people and about his planet. I can’t find a single thing wrong with that.

Irrelevant itch

January 26th, 2012
5:58 pm

Okra, Okra, Okra, Please.

It’s time to draw the curtain.

Mo Schreibman

January 26th, 2012
6:55 pm

This is the business genius who sold out to Time magazine and those Warner Brothers thinking they would give a big rats patootie later about what he had to say even before the ink on the contracts had time to dry already and then turned around and voted to approve the sale of the whole shmear to that AOL that nobody hears anything about any longer? Such schmucks are not born everyday anymore with the mothers eating better while with child and the new vaccinations from the doctors and the special classes in the schools. Now if he wants to buy Montana let him because it is big enough he can not screw it up so bad that anyone will notice or care or both even.

Downtown Heffa

January 26th, 2012
7:36 pm

I really enjoy the Master Class episodes on OWN. Jane Fonda’ segment was wonderful and I am looking forward to seeing Ted. Maybe I should see Ted’s segment at Ted’s!


January 26th, 2012
7:40 pm

“He of course is best known for his environmental work.” BS. He’s best known for being a loud mouth philanderer who tried to ruin cinematic masterpieces with ‘colorization’.


January 26th, 2012
8:21 pm

That Ted may be a liberal kook, but he sure serves up a tasty BISON BURGER.


January 26th, 2012
8:22 pm

By the comments of a few, I can tell you people are true idiots. The man is brilliant and Stinky, since you are too angry to know, we all watch t.v. differently (and in a great way) because of Ted.


January 26th, 2012
9:00 pm

He needs to tell us what ole Jane looks like in the moonlight wearing little…..15 years ago that is.


January 26th, 2012
9:22 pm

Geez JB. You should be asking about the threesome with Jane and somepone else where good old Teddy wants it up the keyster. think I’m kidding? google it……..

buckhead benny

January 26th, 2012
10:59 pm

He actually believes in God now and has recanted his atheists views which I am sure had to do with hardships he experienced from his dad’s suicide. I think that is as honorable as you get to own up and say you know what I now believe.

He has a fascinating story and has done more than any of us probably ever will. You have to respect a man that speaks the truth. You can look up his spiritual beliefs are quoted in Wikipedia by Ted Turner himself.

richard whiskey

January 27th, 2012
8:39 am

why do all you religious kooks think someone is a bad person because they don’t believe in some imaginary man in the sky?

dickie vodka

January 27th, 2012
9:51 am

why do all the atheist kooks like “richard whiskey” @ 8:39 am think someone is a bad or dumb person because he/she doesn’t want to take the chance there is indeed an “invisible” & eternal lake of fire?


January 29th, 2012
11:42 pm

Apologies to Oprah and Ted. Apparently the depth and message within this great presentation was lost on many of those willing to comment. Hopefully a few others who watched have the capacity to look ahead a thousand years.
Ignorance, bios, and laziness are the great limiters. Based on the overall collection of responses, we’re not getting off this rock alive!
Why not give thoughtful comments? Give yourself more credit than what you have shown. Who knows, it might matter? Thanks to those who gave a thoughtful response worthy of the honesty shared within this presentation.

Shirley Durfee

January 30th, 2012
1:13 pm

I commend Ted Turner for his efforts to save the world. He is truly an amazing man and I wish I could meet him. I have taken his pledge to do my best to save my corner of the world. If more people had a conscience and cared as much as he does, the world would be a better place. He really impressed me.


January 30th, 2012
6:50 pm

I truly enjoyed Ted Turner’s Life Class. His way of defining honor truly resonated with me. Some people seem to have forgotten its true meaning. This week the guilty verdict came in on the Shafia Family trial for the honor killing of 4 members of that family. Mr. Turner’s idea of what honor should mean to all human beings probably touched me more than others because of this trial and what I see around me on a daily basis. Mr. Turner’s class gave me hope that there are a lot of very good people out there who care and recognize that each person is precious and should be treated as such.


January 30th, 2012
7:43 pm

Well, Jim H
What have you contributed to this world, I bet not as much as Ted has. Where did he say he was atheist even if he is what should it matter. And I bet you are a “christian” filled with judgement. I commend Ted Turner for all that he has done. Thanks to OWN for these classes.