George Franco leaves Fox 5 after 15 years to focus on professional auctioneering

Originally posted Thursday, January 2, 2020 by RODNEY HO/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Veteran Fox 5 reporter George Franco has decided to move on after 15 years at the station, his final news report airing January 2, 2020 during the 11 p.m. newscast.

He has been working as an auctioneer and will focus on doing benefit/charity auctions full time. He dubs himself the “Good News Auctioneer.”

“It’s been a great ride here and Sacramento and other markets but the time has come to pivot my world,” he wrote me earlier today.

On his Fox 5 Facebook page, he added: "My life as a TV news reporter has been exciting, heart breaking, rewarding, sad, stressful, joyful and crazy, all wrapped up in the daily drum beat at Fox 5 News."

He started at WAGA-TV in early 2005 but spent 15 years prior to Atlanta in many other smaller markets.

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In recent years, Franco became a professional auctioneer.

“I’m not sure if I’m done with broadcasting yet but for now my attention is going toward continuing my efforts to help schools, non profits and foundations,” he said in a text earlier Thursday.

In a brief interview after he finished his final report at 11:17 p.m. Thursday, he said he got the auction bug about six years ago. He had already purchased a car via auction and his Lawrenceville home by auction and was fascinated by the process.

So Franco went to auction school for 10 days while on vacation from Fox 5 and received his auction license in 2014. His boss at Fox 5 at the time Mike McClain gave him clearance so on weekends, he'd head to auction houses all over the state to sell furniture and collectibles. (He recently auctioned eight chairs once owned by Cher for $14,500.)

Credit: George Franco doing a charity auction in 2015. CR: George Franco's FB page with permission

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Credit: George Franco doing a charity auction in 2015. CR: George Franco's FB page with permission

Franco said one auction house owner who knew him as a reporter thought he was trying to go undercover to dig up dirt on him - which he wasn’t. It’s a super competitive world and he acknowledged some full-time auctioneers looked at him with suspicion given his background.

“I’ve competed in auctioneer contests,” he said. “I haven’t won. I want to improve. There’s a real magic in the melodious chants some people do.”

One auction house expert, aware of his story-telling skills on TV, said he should become a benefit auctioneer instead. It’s a specialty only a handful of auctioneers focus on. It’s also a different style because he has to tug at rich people’s heartstrings to loosen their wallets for a cause.

He started his own company four years ago Red Cloud Auctions and has focused on doing charity events. Even while juggling his Fox 5 duties, he worked 20 to 25 charity auctions in the past year.

Recently, after spending 30 years in the journalism business, he felt it was time to focus full time on his new love. He hopes to up his charity count to 40 to 50 auctions a year, enough to secure himself a decent living.

“Being a benefit auctioneer is a lot like being a television reporter,” Franco said. “There’s the adrenaline rush. There’s the performance aspect. There’s the story line. I tell stories and bring the non profit’s mission to life. ‘There’s a little boy in Venezuela with an amputated leg because of war and famine. He will receive a wheelchair if you donate.’ It’s creating that emotional connection.”

He said he will miss the newsroom and the people who worked there with him. And the feeling was mutual.

Kaitlyn Pratt, a fellow Fox 5 reporter, wrote Thursday night on Facebook: "You helped me when I first arrived and advised me how things worked on the night shift. You helped me when I became a homeowner and hooked me up with trustworthy professionals. You helped me realize what it means to get the story... no matter what the distance. I swear, George, you logged more hours on the road than any other general assignment reporter."