Fred Hickman, Former CNN Anchor, Dies at 66

Fred Hickman in 2004 on SportsCenter
Fred Hickman on the set of ESPN’s SportsCenter in 2004. (Image credit: Rich Arden/ESPN Images)

Fred Hickman, former sports anchor at CNN, died November 9 at age 66. He had suffered from liver cancer. Hickman spent 21 years at CNN, anchoring Sports Tonight, and also worked at ESPN and YES Network, among other networks and stations. 

Hickman started at CNN in 1980, the year of the network’s launch. He teamed up with Nick Charles on Sports Tonight, the pair known as “Nick and Hick.”

Hickman was born in Springfield, Illinois. He worked in radio at Coe College in Iowa, and got his start in television at WICS Springfield. 

He soon arrived at fledgling network CNN. 

“Fred had an amazing ability to exude intelligence, humor and charm whenever he was on camera,” Jim Walton, former CNN Worldwide president, told The New York Times (opens in new tab)

Hickman departed CNN in 1984 to be sports anchor at WDIV Detroit. He entered drug rehabilitation and then rejoined CNN in 1986. Hickman also hosted an NBA pregame and postgame show on TBS and NFL pregame and postgame show on TNT, those networks sharing ownership with CNN. He was the first on-air host hired at YES, which tweeted a tribute to Hickman.

After his work at CNN, ESPN and YES, Hickman went back to local TV, anchoring sports at WVUE New Orleans and in other markets, including Baton Rouge. His final professional stop was Black News Channel, where he worked from 2020 until it went off the air earlier this year. 

Hickman is survived by his wife Sheila. ■

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.