Places & Faces
First Person with Lance Frank, Vice-President of Communications, CBS News, New York
3/1/2020 12:00:00 AM

Lance Frank

Lance Frank was born and raised in Lake Charles. His love of broadcast journalism began when he was a student at F.K. White Middle School, where he helped produce and anchor the morning announcements. During the summer between middle and high school, Lance "interned” at KPLC. He’d go out with photographers and reporters in the field, soaking up every aspect of television news. In high school, he became a teen reporter at KPLC and an intern at the American Press. Lance met his wife, Janesia Fontenot, in sixth grade, and they both graduated from LaGrange High. He attended the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication. During that time, he worked in Student Media and eventually became the station manager for Tiger TV, a member of the student media board, and the student member for the committee that hired the dean, Jerry Ceppos, in 2011. 

Throughout college, Lance also worked at the CBS affiliate in Baton Rouge as an associate producer and eventually made it on air. "I worked weekends and missed a lot of LSU football games, but the sacrifice was worth it. The experience at Channel 9 and working in news since the age of 13 got me to New York at CBS News.” Now 30 years old and new to fatherhood, Lance recently shared his story with Thrive magazine, where he highlighted his ongoing career journey, and the importance of maintaining strong relationships.

What were you like as a kid?

I grew up in a tight-knit family with my parents, Larry and Vanessa, and younger sister, Alyssa. We went to church every Sunday and had lunch at my grandparents’ house. We took family vacations every summer. At school, I was involved with just about every organization from Boy Scouts to Student Council, band to drama club. While I participated in so many activities, I was obsessed with the news. I’d get to school early and leave late because I wanted to learn everything I could about the cameras and how to produce television.

How did your experiences at the Manship School prepare you for your career? 

I earned a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and a Minor in Political Science. I’m very fond of the Manship School and still very involved there today. It was one of the most formative experiences of my life. While Manship gave me a well-rounded education to prepare me for my career, it also taught me that relationships are everything. There, I met many of the contacts that helped launch my career; many are still close friends and mentors. One of the most rewarding opportunities for me since graduation has been starting a fund to help students pay for travel to conventions and other important industry events that can help them make connections. Those experiences were integral for me in college, and I want to make sure others have the same opportunity.

Describe the path that took you from LSU to your current role at CBS News 

in New York. 

After college, CBS News hired me as the first employee in a new program intended to introduce young people to network news and help them figure out what they wanted to do. I started at the CBS Evening News, answering phones and running scripts. I helped producers prepare for interviews, logged tapes, and did lots of research. I had a friend and mentor from LSU named Donna Dees who worked in public relations at another unit within CBS. Donna talked me up to the head of public relations for CBS News, who was looking for a junior publicist to help with the CBS Evening News and with the launch of our morning show CBS This Morning. She called me and after I spent one day in that office, I was hooked. I worked on press campaigns for a correspondent who was in Syria at the height of the civil war there. I worked on photo shoots with top magazines and newspapers and helped out at cool events around town. I was in the mix for political coverage as we prepared for the 2012 election, and was eventually hired full-time in the communications office. From there, I worked my way up to my current position.

Describe your role as VP of Communications. What do you do? 

I work closely with our news executives and talent, promoting the exceptional journalism we do here. CBS News is the leader in original reporting and storytelling, and it’s a very rewarding job because the journalism that comes out of here is an important public service and critical to the national conversation. I truly believe that there is no democracy without journalism. So my day might include work on a media strategy for an exclusive interview with a celebrity or world leader, coordinating internal communications to engage employees, writing a speech or press release, or arranging a photo shoot or interview for an anchor or correspondent. I also work closely with our editorial teams to promote CBS News’ political coverage and arrange publicity efforts around big events like Election Night and for breaking news. 

Every day is different. I often travel and spend a lot of time in Washington, D.C. lately. My greatest challenge is managing these many responsibilities and making sure I complete each task at the level I expect from myself. The reward is that I truly love what I do. It has never felt like a job, and I learn something almost every day.

Tell us about the mentors in your life. 

My parents are huge inspirations for me. They’ve always supported me; taking me to KPLC at 5:00 a.m. before school, shuttling me all around for camps, making sure I felt confident that I could do anything in the world as long as I worked hard. My wife and I recently had a daughter and we realize more than ever how important it is to instill those values in a child. I also look up to my wife. She inspires me, and juggles so much as a new mom but makes it look easy. I credit Jim Serra, the general manager at KPLC while I was there, with giving me my professional start. Jim would watch my stories, offer suggestions, and help me improve them. Former CBS News Correspondent Randall Pinkston was pivotal in my professional life. He and I randomly met on an airplane in 2008. He sat next to me and I told him I was a college student studying journalism, which prompted a conversation. When we landed he gave me his card. We kept in touch and he helped me get the internship at CBS News.

Describe a typical day in your life. 

I live in Queens and take the subway into work in midtown Manhattan every day. Working in news, there is no "typical” day, but I normally arrive around 10:00 a.m. and often leave around 8:00 p.m. In general, my favorite food in NYC is Asian. I love dim sum, ramen and Korean BBQ. Luckily there is always a new place to try but one of my favorites is Totto Ramen at 51st and 10th. It’s close to work, so I can run out, grab a bowl of ramen and get back to my desk in about 30 minutes.

How do you spend your free time? 

I’m an avid runner and plan to run the New York Marathon for the second time this coming November. I’m also an avid reader.

Do you come home to Louisiana to visit family and friends often? 

Yes. We spent nearly two weeks in Lake Charles for Christmas. It was my three-month-old daughter’s first plane ride! Family and LSU Football are very important to me so I try to get home as often as I can.  

Name three things on your bucket list. 

Start a scholarship at the Manship School, spend a month cruising around the Mediterranean, and buy a fixer upper and customize it from bones to beauty.

What’s next for Lance Frank? 

Right now I’m mainly focused on being a great dad.

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