On June 1st 2018, Kevin Frankish retired from a long and prestigious career at Breakfast Television and City Pulse News. He will forever be an icon of my childhood and adolescence in 1990s Mississauga. My parents and I had just moved to Canada and we started watching Breakfast Television. My dad would gesture at Kevin and say, “This is the kind of diction and command of the English language to which you should aspire.” Despite this parental injunction, I liked watching Kevin on BT because he had a personal and approachable manner. He was not intimidating to a ten-year-old newcomer to Canada. Peter Jennings delivered “grown-up news” but Kevin Frankish felt home-like. I remember eating Shreddies for breakfast while hearing Kevin deliver the news before hurrying off to the school bus stop.
One particular BT episode stands out in my memory. Kevin had brought his three-year-old daughter, Brianna, to work. She was wearing a blue-and-white dress and Kevin gave her the BT microphone so she could lisp daintily, “This is Brianna Frankish reporting for Breakfast Television.” It was a very sweet moment. I liked it when the staff displayed these little pockets of family life; it made them seem like real people, not just anchormen and women who made a living out of the news. It was once said of Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt (when they were married) that fans found Brad intimidating because they only saw him on the silver screen. The same fans would not hesitate to approach Jennifer to say how much they loved her because “she was in their living room every weeknight.” It was a similar phenomenon with the staff on BT because they felt real and made an appearance in our living rooms every weekday morning.
In recent years, Melanie Ng covered a story about students being rude to the Peel District School Board Twitter account when they did not get the snow days they were anticipating. It reminded me of how as a student, I would eagerly watch Breakfast Television in the hopes of Kevin announcing that all Peel District schools were closed for a snow day. Sometimes they were and I would exclaim in relief that I could finish my book report. Sometimes they weren’t and while I was disappointed, I never once thought of getting angry with Kevin! I knew it wasn’t his fault! On Twitter, people tend to forget that there is a human being at the other end of the tweets. With BT, the staff delivering the news bulletins had a face, name, voice, family and heart. And so we treated them as such.
Some Kevin Frankish moments that stuck with me are:
- When he expressed frustration that his kids didn’t thank him enough but then asked himself, “How often did I thank my dad for all the things he did?” Kevin concluded that the goal of parenting is not to be thanked (although that is nice!) but to get your kids to pay it forward. I thought that was a very compassionate, poignant and touching reflection on the human experience.
- When Kevin read out the final medal tally for the Vancouver Olympics and commended the U.S. on winning the most medals, “but not as many golds as us!”
- There was a 1990s episode where Kevin’s wife, Beth, was a guest on BT. She was asked how she handles a household of four children when her husband has a demanding job that gets him up early and home late. “The news never sleeps!” While I don’t remember all of Beth’s reply, I do remember her saying happily that she gets flowers every week. Amidst the chaos, hectic schedules and heavy workload, it was clear that those flowers from Kevin meant a lot to her.
My parents and I enjoyed the BT episodes featuring trips to Muskoka (a favorite family vacation spot!), the EdgeWalk on the CN tower and the annual Christmas parties. However, the everyday episodes where Kevin bantered with Frank, Dina, Melanie, Winston and all the rest and where they shared funny family moments will remain my favorites.
Kevin did not prepare a script for his final farewell because he felt that it should come from the heart. This reminded me of my dad’s early exhortations that “manifestations of affection must come from within the heart!” Kevin’s farewell was very touching. He faced the camera with his wife, Beth, on one side and his co-host, Dina, on the other. “The two women in my life!” He said that, “It’s been an honour. It’s been a privilege. Many of you would come up on the streets of Toronto just to say hello. I hope you won’t stop doing that. This is a family here” … he indicated the crew as well as the on-air staff … “Be good to one another. That’s really what it’s all about.”
I recollected my dad becoming emotional at his retirement party as well. Somewhere along the line, your workplace becomes your second family, if you’re lucky, which I think my parents, Kevin and I were.
We wish Kevin Frankish and the Frankish family well as they commence the next chapter of their lives.