No one had more impact on the birth of Capitol Broadcasting Company than Frank Fletcher, the middle son of CBC founder A.J.Fletcher.
Frank Utley Fletcher grew up in Raleigh, but left home after college to make a name for himself as an attorney in Washington DC. In 1934 he went to work as one of the first staff attorneys at the FCC–a new federal agency set up by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to oversee the nation’s growing communications industries.
Fletcher rose swiftly through the ranks and performed virtually every legal job available at the FCC. He became an expert in station licensing procedures and saw firsthand that the business of broadcasting offered great promise and potential.
With that knowledge in hand, Frank Fletcher was instrumental in convincing his father to get into broadcasting. He first assisted in obtaining an FCC license for WRAL-AM in Raleigh and later played critical roles in securing the licenses for WRAL-FM and WRAL-TV.
It’s fair to say that Capitol Broadcasting Company might not exist at all if not for the astute knowledge and persuasive efforts of Frank Fletcher.
Frank left the FCC in 1939 to join Spearman and Roberson—a new communications law firm in the nation’s capital. He took a leave of absence to serve as a legal officer in the Army during World War II, but returned to private practice at the end of the war.
Frank’s reputation as a trial lawyer spread throughout the D.C. Bar and broadcast industry and it wasn’t long before he was serving clients large and small in the communications industry. The law firm’s name was eventually changed to Fletcher, Heald and Hildreth, and Frank served as Chair of the firm until his retirement in 1985.
Frank Fletcher dominated the communications law profession for fifty years. He served as President of the Federal Communications Bar Association, President of the Broadcast Pioneers, a Director of the National Association of Broadcasters and on the Board of Visitors of the Wake Forest Law School.
In 1995 Wake Forest Law established the “Frank U. Fletcher Professorship in Administrative Law” in his honor. Fletcher also served as a Trustee of Shaw University, which awarded him an honorary Doctor of Laws.
In 1986 Frank Fletcher was inducted into the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame, joining his father and brother Fred in the ranks of honorees.
Fletcher devoted the final years of his life to philanthropy, providing counsel to the A.J. Fletcher Foundation and its charitable efforts.
Frank U. Fletcher died July 23, 1995 at the age of 83.