Saying goodbye to a Las Vegas news legend creates a day filled with laughs, memories, and tears. On April 1 — April Fool’s Day — a day every 8 News NOW viewers and staffers wished was a big April Fool’s joke in itself, we all said goodbye to our beloved Paula Francis.
Paula will anchor her last two newscasts, the 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Friday evening. These time slots, along with the 11 p.m. newscast, are shows Paula anchored with Dave Courvoisier, and other news greats like George Knapp and Garry Waddell, by her side.
Waddell and Knapp rejoined Paula on the anchor desk Wednesday and Thursday of this week.
During Paula’s retirement luncheon, Knapp, a longtime friend, and colleague, wowed and cracked the crowd up with his comical take on VH1’s “Behind the Music.” It was a video filled with dramatic storytelling and none truths about Paula and her colleagues. It was called “Behind the Anchor Desk.”
Before introducing the short film, Knapp lovingly joked that Paula, everyone’s favorite sweetheart, didn’t have any scandal in her past, so “we made it up,” he said.
The 8 News NOW talent also created a video titled “Paula Watch 2017.” It was the team’s way of telling Francis and her husband Steve Francis that we loved her and would never let her go, even in retirement.
While watching the videos, the room filled with laughter indicating the audience was pleased with the mock and shocking satirical story of Paula’s life.
Waddell shared some funny stories about Paula who he called his work wife. Before his retirement back in 2012, he co-anchored the evening news with Paula at KLAS-TV for nearly 20 years.
Paula began her career in Madison, Wisconsin directly after graduating from UW-Madison and has been covering news for Las Vegas since 1985. She joined KLAS in 1988 and over the span of her career has been chosen as “Best TV Anchor in Las Vegas” by the Las Vegas Review-Journal readers over 15 times. She was inducted into the Nevada Broadcaster’s Association Hall of Fame and a member of the KLAS-TV Hall of Fame, sharing the honor with George Knapp, Gary Waddell, Bob Stoldal and Howard Hughes.
KLAS-TV 8 News Director, Terri Foley has worked alongside Paula for over 28 years saying that “Paula has been an inspiration to me. In the highly competitive business of news, she is viewed by other news organizations with tremendous respect. The news department will miss her experience, judgment and passion for news. We fully support Paula in this new chapter of her life, knowing she will always have a special place in the hearts of her KLAS family.”
On this next chapter, Paul Francis says, “Channel 8 and its loyal viewers have enabled me to have my dream career. For 28 years, it has been a privilege and a joy. I am always thrilled when strangers call out, ‘I love you!’ Alongside my good friend Gary Waddell, I’ve covered the tragedies and the celebrations. Our New Year’s Eve show was a highlight. Being in the public eye has been exciting and rewarding, and now I look forward to a more private life. If you see me out and about, please don’t hesitate to say hello.”
8 News NOW has been known to name streets after some of our favorite staples. Near the TV station located on Channel 8 Drive, a block over from the beautiful Las Vegas Strip, there is a Gary Waddell Way and an Emily Nielsen Way, so, of course, the station had to continue the tradition with a Paula Francis Parkway.
When her street sign was revealed, by the station’s General Manager and President, Lisa Howfield, Paula was ecstatically shocked by the announcement.
Paula is a founding member of the Nevada Chapter of the International Women’s Forum, serves on the Board of Trustees for The Shade Tree Endowment Fund and has received a number of humanitarian awards for involvement in the community including her proudest campaign accomplishment for breast cancer awareness, Buddy Check 8.
Although Paula will be officially retired after April 1st, viewers are likely to still see her on 8 News Now during coverage of events such as the Susan G. Komen Race for a Cure as she will continue to remain involved with her community causes.
Paula and her husband Steve Francis will undoubtedly now spend more time sharing their interests in politics, hiking, photography and traveling. In fact, their first trip may be to Santa Barbara because as a retirement gift, KLAS-TV gave Paula and her husband a trip to Santa Barbara to see her favorite musical artist, Bob Dylan.