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Ambassador Mark Evans Austad Collection

 Collection
Identifier: MS-107

Scope and Contents

Nearly sixty (60) linear feet of correspondence, newspaper clippings, photograph, films and memorabilia are included in MS 107. Contained in this wide range of materials is information which chronicles more than half a century (1926-1981) in the life of a man noted for his business achievements and public service, his abilities as an orator, and for his extensive travels. To improve access to this information, the collection’s papers and supporting records have been grouped according to subject matter and organized in the following Topical/Chronological arrangement:

Biographical, 1926-1981 (Boxes 1-4) Information pertaining to Austad’s family life, his education, church service and his military service. Included in the last category are papers related to his convalescence following surgery at Walter Reed Memorial Hospital in Washington, D. C. and his subsequent involvement with the hospital’s radio station WRGH, 1943-1944.

Business Career, 1941-1973 (Boxes 5-33) Information pertaining to Austad’s professional associations with the radio station KSL, Salt Lake City, 1941-1942; radio station WWDC in Washington, D.C., 1948-1948; radio and television station WTOP in Washington, D.C., 1948-1960; and television station WTTG in Washington, D.C., 1960-1973. Included in this segment are papers and photographs related to Austad’s visit with and interview with Dr. Albert Schweitzer in Lambarene, Gabon, Africa in the winter of 1961-1962.

Political and Government Service, 1973-1977 (Boxes 34-68) Information pertaining to Austad’s service as a delegate to the 28th General Assembly of the United Nations, 1973; his chairmanship of the District of Columbia’s Bicentennial Celebration Commission, 1974; his appointment and service as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States to Finland, 1974-1977; and his role as an official delegate with the United States and European Chiefs of State to the Conference of Security and Cooperation in Europe held in Helsinki, Finland, 1975.

Presidential Inaugurals, 1969, 1973 and 1981 (Boxes 69-71) Information pertaining to Austad’s work as chairman of the 1969 Presidential Inaugural Ball; as Vice Chairman of the Presidential Inaugural in 1973, and as a member of the 1981 Inaugural Executive Committee. Provisional Period 1977-1981 (Box 72) Information pertaining to Austad’s activities following his services as Ambassador to Finland, and just prior to his 1981 appointment as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States to Norway.

Memorabilia, Oversized Materials, and Press Clippings (Boxes 73-80) Films and Tapes

Dates

  • 1926 - 1981

Biographical / Historical

BORN Marcus Jacob Austad (name changed to Mark Evans Austad in 1940’s). April 1, 1917, Ogden, Utah. Parents Jacob L. and Signa Anderson Austad.

EDUCATED Weber College, Ogden. 1939-1941

MARRIED Lola Brown, Ogden. August 20, 1942

CHILDREN Nancy (Mrs. David Roth), Penny (Mrs. James Davis), and Wendy (Mrs. John Dufree).

For most young men, 1941 was not a good year to embark upon a private venture. For Mark Evans Austad, however, it was the birthdate of a long and successful career that led him around the world and to the highest level of international diplomacy. Austad began his first job in broadcasting in 1941 at Salt Lake City’s KSL radio station. Conscription for military Service abruptly terminated his employment the following year, but that disruption of his private life proved beneficial to his professional advancement.

Plagued by an earlier knee injury, Private Austad was sent to Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington, D.C. While convalescing following surgery on his knee, he was assigned to the staff of the hospital’s public address system- “radio” station WRGH. Among his responsibilities was that of moderating a weekly program featuring prominent Washington personalities such as First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt.

Washington’s broadcasting community gave Austad’s work at WRGH its appreciative attention, and by the end of 1942 he was asked to work part-time at the radio station WWDC. Immediately upon his discharge from military service in 1945, Austad accepted a full-time position with WWDC. Two years later, he moved to the CBS radio and television station WTOP as the new moderator for “Sunrise Salute”; a morning program formerly hosted by Arthur Godfrey. For Austad, it was the beginning of a twenty year affiliation with the Columbia Broadcasting System in the nation’s capital.

Austad’s work at WTOP continued until 1960 when he took a position with television station WTTG where he became Vice President of Public Affairs for the Metropolitan Broadcasting Company, or Metromedia, Inc, as it is known today. He served in that post until 1975. All the while, however, he continued to work as moderator and anchorman on such programs as Panorama Potomac, Opinion in the Capital, Face to Face, and his own, The Mark Evans Show.

In addition to his work as a moderator, Austad was involved in the production of numerous television documentaries and traveled throughout the world to conduct interviews with newsmakers of the day. Among his films were, From San Paulo to Machu Pichu, Through Belgium by Helicopter, Africa and Algiers, The U.S.S.R., and Around the World in 90 Minutes. Perhaps his most remarkable documentary was The Light That Shines From Lambarene, a film based on his visit with Dr. Albert Schweitzer during the winter of 1960-1961.

Austad’s extensive travels and his abilities as an orator placed him in great demand as a lecturer. He spoke before hundreds of civic and service organizations, at universities, and at conventions throughout the country. The National Geographic Society invited his to address its members on eight different occasions and in 1971 he served as the key note speaker for the Aircade of the United States Chamber of Commerce. During the Aricade’s sixteen day tour, Austad spoke in fourteen different cities.

Austad’s experience and expertise garnered the respect of many Washington notables and a number of prestigious appointments. He served on the inaugural committee of Presidents Nixon (1969 and 1973) and Reagan (1981); was a delegate to the 28th General Assembly of the United Nations in 1973; and in 1974 was chosen to serve as the District of Columbia’s Bicentennial Commission Chairman. In that same year, he was honored with the appointment of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States to Finland. In that capacity, he joined other U.S. and European chiefs of state as a delegate to the Helsinki Conference on Security and Economic Cooperation in Europe.

When Ambassador Austad completed his term in office in 1977, he became the first U.S. diplomat to receive The White Rose and Order of the Lion, the Finnish government’s highest honorary award. In 1981, his own country recognized the merits of his diplomatic services with a new appointment as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States to Norway.

Extent

129 Boxes

Language of Materials

English

Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the WSU Stewart Library Special Collections Repository

Contact:
3921 Central Campus Drive Dept 2901
Ogden UT 84408