Fans of longtime local broadcaster Frank Ski know he likes to have fun, but often takes on serious issues, too.
On the one hand you might find him hanging out with celebrities such as Ludacris at events like his annual wine tasting and auction to benefit the Frank Ski Kids Foundation . The organization funds educational excursions with impressive groups of youths who wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity; past trips have included destinations like the Galápagos Islands. This year: Alaska.
On the other, Ski often lends his voice and platform to highlighting community concerns such as gun control, police brutality and politics during his V-103 broadcasts, and dispenses timeless wisdom during his Inspirational Vitamin segments.
So when we got together recently to talk about Father's Day, the conversation was, in trademark fashion, a mix of levity and - pardon the pun - frank talk.
"I am truly amazed at how great my kids are," he said. "Watching them every step of the way be better than me has been really amazing. They're so much better than me. Smarter, more talented. I sit back and I'm like, wow."
PAST COVERAGE: Frank Ski discusses his return to V-103
Ski has four sons: Jarrett, 27, whose mom was in a relationship with Ski decades ago; and Franklin, 17, and twins Blake and Harrison, 16, his kids with ex-wife Tanya Parker.
Frank and Tanya married in 1995, when he was working for a radio station in Baltimore. Soon after they relocated to Atlanta, they learned they were going to become parents.
"When Franklin was being born I was in the hospital room talking on the radio," he said. "To this day people will tell Franklin, 'I remember when you were born.' A lot of DJs keep their families private for security reasons. My show was always about being real: 'You're growing up with Frank Ski, this is my family.' As soon as they could talk they were on the radio talking."
Yet he has not talked much publicly about his divorce, although it's been several years now. It was a situation he wanted to handle privately as a dad before discussing it publicly as a broadcast personality.
"Telling the kids was the hardest thing I ever had to do," he said. "I cringe about that day. On the one hand they were old enough to understand. On the other hand they were too young to control their emotions. It was a very difficult thing."
It was especially hard for the kids to process at first, he said, because there was never any visible friction.
"Tanya and I never fought, we never had disagreements," he said. "Sometimes you realize it's not the right fit. For a while you try for the kids, but it's not good to be around kids when you're having problems."
He has nothing but praise for Tanya and says his kids' best attributes reflect their mom.
"We've always maintained a great friendship," he said. "They definitely got her brains. It wasn't mine. I was the C student. They get their sense of discipline from her, they get their sense of order from her. Everything in the house was color coordinated - red, blue and green hangers and toothbrushes - she made sure they had their own stuff all the time and they were their own individuals.
"The other thing they benefit from her is being early," he continued. "On time to them is late. Franklin wants to be the first person at football practice. If I'm taking them to school it's like, we've got to leave here at 6:15 a.m. It can't be 6:20."
The structure is evident in each son's success. Franklin will be a senior at Lovett this fall, Harrison will be a junior at Lovett and Blake will be a junior at Pace.
"The kids they are definitely both of us," Ski said. "I was the science kid, that's Blake. I was the Renaissance kid, that's Harrison. Then again I was always very gregarious, that's Franklin."
As we were talking, Ski got a text from Tanya, as he frequently does, to check in about an issue with one of their kids. This time it was pondering over what someone's curfew should be.
"You've got to be able to work together, keep the kids first," he said.
Tanya echoed that comment.
"Seek God in all you do," was her key tip for successful co-parenting. "Pray for patience and accept the things you can't change. Always put the needs of the children first. Remember they are innocent, and can't choose their parents, or make them stay together.
"Understand the children's disappointments and realize they rationalize like the minors they are," she continued. "Try to keep positive energy and communication open. Leave your ex alone to live their lives and make their choices, good or bad. Pray for your ex because you never want your kids see them fail."
Because of Ski's travel schedule, Franklin, Blake and Harrison stay with their mom most of the time. When they're with him, one of Ski's key goals is to make sure they uphold her standards.
"Whatever discipline is involved is, 'don't make me look bad. Don't let your mom find out you were at my house and didn't do your homework,'" he said. They alternate holidays and still do some things as a family.
"I'll have to remind them, it's your mom's birthday what are you getting her? Let's go," he said. "She does the same thing. Tanya taught me this very early: when you have kids you are now in charge of raising a soul. Once you have a child everything you do is about your child."
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.