Tuesday, March 12, 2019

R.I.P.: Karl Eller, Media Executive, Station Owner

Karl Eller
Longtime Arizona business executive Karl Eller, a University of Arizona alumnus and namesake of the UA’s Eller College of Management, died Sunday in Phoenix. He was 90.

In a business career spanning more than four decades, Eller was CEO of several billion-dollar corporations, including the Circle K Corp., Columbia Pictures and his own billboard company, Eller Media Co.

According to tucson.com, Eller was a native oc Chicago and moved to Tucson with his family in the mid-1930s and lived across the street from Arizona Stadium, where his mother rented rooms to students. After a stint in the Army, Eller studied business and played football at the UA, graduating with his lifelong spouse, Stevie, in 1952.

After working for two major advertising agencies in Chicago, Eller returned to Tucson in 1961 to buy the Western outdoor advertising division of Foster & Kleiser, where he had worked previously.

He built the billboard venture into a media company, Combined Media, that owned TV and radio stations and billboard companies across the U.S. and Canada. Combined Media was sold to Gannett in 1979.

In 1983, Eller became CEO of Phoenix-based convenience-store operator Circle K Corp., where he spearheaded a massive store expansion.

He started and grew a new outdoor media company, Eller Media, which was sold to Clear Channel Communications for $1.2 billion in 1997.

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