Fred Hickman Dies: Original CNN Sports, YES Network and Black News Channel Anchor Was 66

Fred Hickman, (Credit: BNC, CNN, YES Network)

Fred Hickman, an award-winning broadcast journalist who delivered news and sports information to viewers for over four decades, died Wednesday, his wife Sheila confirmed. He was 66.

Hickman passed away in Kissimmee, Florida, after battling cancer.

The veteran journalist was perhaps best-known for his work at CNN. He joined the young cable network in 1980 and co-anchored sports highlight show, CNN Sports Tonight, with the late Nick Charles.

“Fred and my late husband Nick, who were on air partners, had more in common than just their CNN sports show — they were both boys from of the great state of Illinois. They shared the same deep faith in the Lord,”  Charles’ widow, Cory Charles, said in a statement. “Fred truly succeeded at everything he did and was adored by his colleagues in front of the camera and behind the scenes. Fred and my late husband were known as ‘Nick & Hick.’ I have so many memories over the past 30 years of him, not only as Nick’s partner, but as a dear friend and brother.”

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Hickman was also one of the original anchors at Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network (YES).

In an on-air tribute Wednesday, the YES staff remembered him as “the first person seen and heard on the network” when it launched on March 19, 2002.

Hickman was born in Springfield, Illinois, in October 1956. After graduating from college, he began his on-air career in 1977. He worked in radio before landing a job at CNN and cementing his place in sports broadcast history. Hickman would later hold positions at ESPN, Fox Sports South, WDIV-TV in Detroit, WVUE-TV in New Orleans, WVLA-TV in Baton Rouge, and WDVM-TV in Maryland.

In 2019, he joined the Black News Channel as prime news anchor and managing editor, and helped ready the cable network for its launch in February 2020. Each evening, Hickman delivered news important to the Black community on the now-defunct network. He was instrumental in its live coverage of the 2020 presidential election, health disparities affecting the Black community at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the nationwide protests against racial injustice and police violence following the May 2020 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“RIP to the great Fred Hickman. Long before I was inspired by any sports anchor on Sportscenter, Fred was the anchor I looked up to. He was solid, great & looked like ME. A rarity back then. Later had a chance to be a colleague & was an even BETTER human. We’ll miss you bro!” sportscaster and former Black News Channel anchor Mike Hill tweeted Wednesday.

Fred Hickman, a legendary broadcaster, beloved husband, father and friend to many, is survived by his wife Sheila, and two children.