Mark Evans Austad
Mark Evans Austad was an American radio and television commentator and was appointed to two United States ambassadorships.
Under the name Mark Evans, Austad worked as an announcer with KSL in Salt Lake City before he was drafted into the U.S. Army Intelligence Corps during World War II. While recuperating from knee surgery at Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington, DC, he hosted a weekly program that featured prominent Washington figures that included First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. By late 1942, he was working part time for WWDC and then worked there full-time after his military discharge in 1945. In 1947, he started his own morning show on WTOP.
In 1960, he became a commentator at WTTG television and in 1961 became vice president of public affairs at what would come to be called Metromedia. He hosted various television shows until he left in 1981.
U.S. president Richard M. Nixon appointed him to serve as a member of the citizens advisory board of the Peace Corps. Austad served on the presidential inaugural committees both times Nixon was elected. Nixon appointed Austad to serve as one of the three public members of the United States delegation to the 28th General Assembly of the United Nations.
U.S. president Gerald Ford appointed Austad as Ambassador to Finland in March 1975 and he served until April 1977. President Ronald Reagan appointed Austad as Ambassador to Norway and he served from January 1982 to September 1984. He was awarded the grand cross of St. Olaf's Order, the highest award given to a foreigner.
Austad was appointed a member of the executive board of the Washington, D.C., American Red Cross; a member of the public affairs committee of the United States Chamber of Commerce; a member of the board of the Arizona Heart Institute; a member of the board of the Disabled American Veterans; and a trustee of the American Automobile Association. He received the Silver Beaver Award and in 1970 he was named Scouter of the Year by the National Capital Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, where he participated for over 25 years.
Because of his extensive travels and films, he was invited on eight occasions to speak before the National Geographic Society. For his "deep commitment to freedom and a strong national defense", in 1987 he received the Bronze Minuteman, the highest award of the Utah National Guard.
Austad served for two years as chairman of Washington, D.C.'s National Cherry Blossom Festival, and in 1973 and 1974 he was chairman of Washington, D.C.'s U.S. bicentennial celebration.
Austad was born on April 1, 1917, in Ogden, Utah. His parents, Jacob L. and Signa Anderson Austad, were Norwegian immigrants. Austad served a three-year mission to Finland and Norway for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He obtained his bachelor’s degree at Weber College in 1941. In 1971, Austad received an honorary doctor of humanities degree from Weber State College. The school would also later honor Austad by naming its largest theater in its fine arts center The Mark Evans Austad Auditorium.
Austad and his wife, Lola, had three daughters. He died on October 20, 1988.