Posted Wednesday, December 27, 2017 by RODNEY HOemail@example.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Local broadcasters who worked with veteran news broadcaster Amanda Davis over the past three decades were stunned by her sudden death Wednesday night after a massive stroke.
"The CBS46 news team is in shock," said Steve Doerr, news director. "No one saw this coming."
During the 11 p.m. CBS46 newscast, anchor Sharon Reed said she had nothing but respect for her, lauding her authenticity. And she marveled over the three-part series Davis did in 2016 about her alcoholism. "She shared so much of herself, her vulnerability, on multiple nights," Reed said. "Hats off. We're going to miss her." She teared up on air.
Davis was off air for more than three years when CBS46 gave her another shot a year ago to anchor again. "I'm glad she was able to make the comeback she did," said former 11Alive anchor Brenda Wood. "She will be remembered for that, for having the strength to persevere and overcome."
"Amanda was a person of great faith, a faith that seemed to deepen in recent years as she bravely confronted, and surmounted, challenges made more difficult because they were so public," wrote Russ Spencer, who co-hosted the evening news with her for 15 years at Fox 5, on Facebook.
Davis worked at WAGA-TV for 26 years starting at 1986 when it was first a CBS affiliate, then a Fox affiliate. She helped launch "Good Day Atlanta" as a host in 1992 before going to evenings.
Paul Ossmann co-hosted Davis on the new "Good Day Atlanta" for about three years and said it was magic. "It was so small, so low budget but the show exploded," he said. "She was more an introvert. She was a counterpuncher. I was more the outgoing type."
The bad news of her death hit him hard. "I couldn't talk for awhile I was crying so much," said Ossmann, now chief meteorologist at CBS46. "Those are tears of what I'm feeling for my loss but I am the lucky one. I have memories of her and I spent a lot of time with her. I feel very fortunate. I didn't want to go to work but that's where I need to be." He will be on air early Thursday morning to talk about her legacy.
She helped launch Fox's regular segment Wednesday's Child, highlighting foster children to be adopted each week.
"Amanda had her flaws, as we all do, but she had a big heart," said Bud Veazey, a former assistant news director at WAGA-TV from 1988 to 2008. "A sad news story, especially if it was about a child, would bring her to tears on the air. It wasn't bogus TV anchor lady emotion."
Budd McEntee, her news director at WAGA, said his "heart aches that she's no longer with us." He considered her a "true professional... When a big story broke, Amanda jumped in with both feet. Amanda would immediately make phone calls and work her contacts. During a developing story, Amanda was the calm in the storm."
Ken Cook, chief meteorologist at WAGA while Davis was at the station, said he was heartbroken by her death. "Her philosophy was the same as mine: we treated everybody the same, the camera person, the writers, the editors. She got along great with everyone. She smiled a lot."
And he was loved her ability to be truly present during the newscast. She absorbed his forecasts and would ask clarifying questions or make comments. "Producers are yelling in her ear. She could be preparing for the next segment," Cook said. "But she was actually listening to what I was saying. I took that as a compliment."
CB Hackworth was executive producer for special projects at CBS46 in 2016 when Davis joined the newscast's "Just a Minute" team.
"Before she could go on the air with her first piece, Amanda was charged with DUI," Hackworth wrote me. "It was a true wake up call for her, and we made the decision to keep her name on the 'Just a Minute' team in the belief she would return and as a show of faith. During the next year, we spoke at length as she worked to rebuild her life -- and succeeded beyond my hopes. She did it not with a traditional 12-step program, but through her church and and a gritty determination unlike anything I've ever seen."
He produced her three-part series about her struggles with alcohol: "When she was ready, Amanda called me. In my very long career in news, I consider working with Amanda to tell her story my most blessed opportunity. She was a consummate professional. No holds barred. Not only was she willing to bear her soul, she felt it was absolutely necessary, that she owed it to her viewers -- loyal and otherwise."
Talk show host Rashad Richey, who was friends with her, said he plans a three-hour tribute to her on his 1380/WAOK-AM show from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday.
Davis herself opened her series with the following statement:
I’m here by the grace of God. I’m responsible for everything that’s happened to me. I offer no excuses. This is what I know. God takes care of me. Family and friends love me. And I got some much needed help. I have one reason to do this now. I hope sharing my journey will help someone else.
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