Dan Davis is the host of AAA Presents Highroads with Dan Davis, which airs on KPNX-TV12 in Phoenix at 6:30 p.m. on Saturdays right after 12News, and on KVOA TV4 in Tucson, Saturday afternoons at 4 p.m. He also regularly appears on the AzMidday Show each Friday on Channel12.
His show will be entering its second season this week – on Oct. 15th – and just this summer Dan has been from Hawaii to North Carolina, plus a Mexican Riviera Cruise he’s hosting with Holland America in mid-October. Dan created his new show after his 30-year career at KTVK-TV in Phoenix came to an abrupt end. He’s always had a natural curiosity and an eye for both fascinating and unusual stories – and his life is no different.
So Dan, time to share.
The short story of my life has always been fate, and good luck, starting with high school graduation in Ohio when a friend said he was going to Arizona to work at a summer camp. That sounded like an incredible adventure, so three weeks later I began the first of five summers at the Orme School summer camp on a ranch north of Cordes Junction. I knew right away Arizona would be my home for a long time, so when I graduated from Ohio University, I packed up my car and drove to Phoenix.
It was just a month later that I landed my first TV job, as a sportscaster at Flagstaff’s KOAI-TV (later KNAZ-TV, later shut down.) By December of 1977, I made the jump to Channel 3 as a news reporter.
My strength was clearly my feature reporting, and I somehow managed to travel to Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul, London, Berlin and Munich. I also flew in to the Grand Canyon when the Fund for Animals convinced the U.S. Park Service to let them round up wild burros and fly them out by helicopter.
Another favorite story came in 1983 when we flew to Page to cover the Colorado River floods and the hundreds of cancellations the raft companies were getting. When Diamond Adventures offered us a trip to demonstrate that it was safe, I called the news director to get his approval, but was told he had just been fired. Well, to me that meant there wasn’t anybody to say “no,” so I rafted the Colorado for five days.
My luck continued in the mid ‘90s when a producer got an offer for a seven-day cruise to Alaska with Princess Cruises. I was third in line for the trip, but since the producer and two anchors were all pregnant, I got the call. The good karma continued when those segments were used in the first week of Good Morning Arizona. That’s when I went from just another reporter to a well-known morning personality.
That was important when I had to find my own way, and when I went to AAA with my idea, they knew I was the guy to make an AAA show successful.
People know me as being a little quirky, but that’s what makes life fun. During my forced sabbatical, I continued to do my “Dan’s Segment” of unusual stories from my garage by posting them to Facebook. That really helped me stay in touch with viewers.
I also like adventure mowing and I’ve been known to drive to mow the yards of vacant houses or unkempt city parks. But my crowning achievement in mowing came when I drove my truck through the visitor’s bullpen at Chase Field, parked on the warning track and mowed the entire Diamondbacks field. Currently my tractor is on its own assignment as one of the featured items of my John Deere Collection on display at this year’s Pumpkin and Chili Festival at Schnepf Farms. In fact, it’s my John Deere collection that really sums up my success over the years.
People have related to me as just a regular guy who somehow got on TV. Along the way, viewers felt a strong connection to me and would often send me a John Deere toy or something John Deere they had made because they shared my interest. I’m now the proud owner of an embroidered headboard for a casket, embroidered toilet paper and my favorite, a John Deere bike brought to me at a mall show by the husband of a cancer-stricken viewer who said one of her last requests was for me to have her bike. Pretty powerful stuff and something I’m very proud of.
That’s one of the reasons I’m so proud to have a new show. I feel a loyalty to the viewers who have stayed loyal to me, and best of all, I’m still a regular guy who still manages to sneak my way on to television and share the fun.