Tom Planchet / WWLTV.com News and Operations Manager
This column was written about 18 months ago, when Frank retired from WWL-TV
I think the question I got most often about Frank Davis, from friends and family who realized I worked for Channel 4 was, “Is he the same in person as he is on the air?”
Surely, they thought, no one could be that happy, that gregarious, when the cameras weren’t rolling.
Frank, though, was always the real deal. There’s an acronym in the Internet biz – wysiwyg – it means “what you see is what you get.” That is Frank.
Frank loves what he does. Why do you think his wife had such a hard time talking him into retirement? He would come into the newsroom after a fishing trip, or a Naturally N’Awlins shoot and would be humming and grinning as he told producers what a great story they were in for.
“You’re gonna love this one,” he’d say often with a grin and a chuckle while giving a producer a mini back rub.
Though not an anchor, Frank was easily the WWL personality who got the most attention from the public while out on stories during my early days at the station when I toted camera bags as a go-fer.
Frank also on occasion spoiled station employees. Before Katrina, when a hurricane would threaten and WWL-TV employees slept on sleeping bags and in offices and crews would go out into the bad conditions during round-the-clock coverage, Frank would stock up his kitchen and cook for the weary.
While those at other businesses that had to remain open dined on Spam or potted meat and power bars, we were treated to hot breakfasts of eggs, grits, bacon and sausage. Dinners of meat sauce and spaghetti. There was nothing my colleagues and I looked forward to more, nothing that infused us with energy more than the word that Frank had a hot meal on. One person would come in with a plate and the newsroom would nearly clear.
I remember Frank and Mary Clare cooking nearly around the clock. When a reporter and photographer came in during the wee hours, soaked and tired, Frank would fire the stove back up to feed them. They say an army runs on its stomach. Our army of reporters, producers, photographers and management was well fueled for ‘round the clock coverage.’ It was our secret weapon.
I will also miss Frank as an FOW – Friend of the Web. Frank’s archive of recipes is among our most viewed items. And, Frank not only wrote a script of his fishing exploits for the web, he wrote one specifically for us, with more tips and hints than could be seen in his two minutes on air. His recipes were delivered to us each weekend before he did his cooking. Sometimes on his vacations, if he got a hot tip or had a good fishing trip, he’d pen something and send it in special, just for the web.
Frank also cares deeply for the sportsmen in southeast Louisiana and those who make their livings in the Sportsman’s paradise. He did several stories highlighting their plight after Katrina and the BP oil spill - many of them with a heavy heart.
Yes, Frank is what he seems. He’s patriotic. He’s a man of faith. He’s a trusted colleague and devoted friend, husband and father. He likes to have fun and he can turn deadly serious. He’s partying early, long and hard on Mardi Gras and shooting his story on getting ashes the day after. It would be hard to describe him to those who aren’t from here, but for those who are, it’s simple. He’s Naturally N’Awlins.