Don Logan Morgan County native Don Logan (1944- ) grew up in a working-class community to become one of the most lauded executives in American media, most notably heading up Time Inc., AOL Time Warner, and Southern Progress Corporation. He has maintained strong ties to Alabama and has made major contributions toward improving infrastructure and cultural institutions in the state, particularly downtown Birmingham, Jefferson County, though his support for the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and numerous philanthropic causes and his family’s ownership of the Birmingham Barons Minor League Baseball team.
Logan was born on February 2, 1944, in Hartselle, Morgan County. As a youth he had a variety of odd jobs, including picking cotton and working construction and in a grocery store. While attending Hartselle High School, he played baseball, basketball, and football for the Tigers. Following graduation, Logan enrolled in Florence State Teachers College (present-day University of North Alabama) but transferred to Auburn University when he learned about a work-study program that would help him work his way through school. A mathematics major, Logan interned with NASA in Huntsville, Morgan County, where he was first exposed to computer programming. After graduating magna cum laude from Auburn in 1966, he earned a NASA fellowship and later completed his master’s degree in mathematics at Clemson University. Logan would also receive honorary doctorates from Auburn, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), and from Clemson.
Logan’s first job after completing his college education was with Shell Oil in Houston, but over time, he decided he would be happier at a smaller company. In 1970, he responded to an ad for a data processing manager at Birmingham-based Akra Data, an arm of what was then called the Progressive Farmer Company. He moved back to Alabama, where he took on the computerization of magazine fulfillment and circulation promotion for the publisher and also became involved with its book company, Oxmoor House.
Logan was promoted to vice president and general manager of Akra Data in 1972 and became president of Oxmoor House in 1978, a position he retained after being named vice president of Creative Ideas for Living magazine in 1981. Two years later, Logan rose to vice president for corporate development at the publishing company, which had been renamed Southern Progress Corporation to reflect its broader audience and expanding operations. He was named executive vice president of Southern Progress in 1984. One year later, Time Inc. purchased the Birmingham company for $480 million, and Logan was named president of Southern Progress. By the time Southern Living celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1990, Logan was several years into another role, that of chairman and CEO of the corporation.
Logan’s career took him to New York in 1992, when he was tapped as the new president and Chief Operating Officer of Time Inc. just a few years after the venerable publisher and Warner Communications merged to create Time Warner. Logan was named chairman and CEO of Time Inc. in 1994. In 2002, following another merger with AOL, Logan was named chairman of AOL Time Warner’s Media and Communications Group. He was lauded throughout the industry for achieving more than 40 consecutive profitable quarters during his tenure in New York. He retired from the media giant in 2006 and began a second chapter in Alabama.
The Logan family bought the Birmingham Barons of Minor League Baseball, the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, in 2005. The family moved the team from the Hoover Met sports complex to the newly constructed Regions Field, adjacent to Railroad Park in downtown Birmingham. The impressive ballpark, complete with a 360-degree concourse, opened in time for the 2013 season and has helped spur economic development in the downtown area, as well as Birmingham’s Southside neighborhood. In 2010, Logan, an avid angler, joined with several business partners to purchase the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S. LLC), which not only promotes fishing, but advocates for catch-and-release and other conservation efforts, and relocated the headquarters from Florida to Birmingham. The company owns Bassmaster magazine; the website Bassmaster.com; the Bassmaster Tournament Trail; and the B.A.S.S. membership organization.
In recognition of his charitable giving, Logan was chosen as the 2015 Legacy of Leadership honoree for the Alabama-Mississippi Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, an honor that typically included a statue at Regions Field. Instead, Logan commissioned one not of himself but of Jefferson County native and baseball icon Willie Mays, who played for the Birmingham Black Barons early in his professional career.
Logan’s board memberships have included Time Warner Cable, Magazine Publishers of America, National Book Foundation, Auburn University Foundation, International Board of Advisors for the Auburn University School of Human Sciences, Alabama Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, Birmingham Business Alliance, and Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham. He has served on the president’s advisory councils for both Clemson and UAB, as well as the board of trustees for Samford University. Logan joined five other CEOs in raising funds to launch the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, which opened in late 1992. He has personally supported school literacy programs, as well as encouraging corporate educational initiatives to help inner city schoolchildren.
Logan’s many professional and civic honors include Advertising Age Publishing Executive of the Year in 1997; the Henry Johnson Fisher Award (2001), the magazine industry’s highest honor; the Alabama Academy of Honor (2003); the University of Alabama College of Communication and Information Sciences Hall of Fame (2004); the Auburn Alumni Association Lifetime Achievement Award (2005); American Advertising Federation Hall of Fame (2009); Alabama Sports Hall of Fame Distinguished American Sportsman (2011); Alabama Broadcasters Association Citizen of the Year in 2016; and the Alabama Business Hall of Fame (2017).
Logan and his wife, Sandra Tuten Logan, have two sons, Jeff and Stan, who are also co-owners of the Birmingham Barons.