Fred Hickman, former sports anchor for CNN, ESPN and YES, dies at 66
Former CNN anchor and sportsscaster, Fred Hickman, has died. He was 66.
He passed away in St. Louis, according to his wife, Jo Ann, and his manager. He had been suffering from a blood disease for the last year.
News reports said Hickman died of complications from the illness but a news release from the Hickman family says his medical issues were unrelated to his death.
“Mr. Hickman’s work is a huge part of me and my family’s life. Our lives were really changed for the better when we met and worked together in the 1980s. We will miss him tremendously,” Jo Ann Hickman said in a statement.
Born in Texas, Hickman began his career as a sportscaster in Chicago. After he got his start with local Chicago television station WMAQ (AM), Hickman spent 10 years in Dallas at WFAA-TV before joining the fledgling CNN family in 1978.
A popular figure on cable news for a half-decade, Hickman hosted and co-anchored news programs across the cable channel for a total of nearly 20 years, making him the longest-tenured anchor in CNN’s history.
An outspoken liberal, Hickman often clashed with CNN’s then executive vice president Jim Walton, but he always remained loyal.
An ardent admirer of former president Barack Obama, Hickman had a unique relationship with the future president. Obama had been a frequent guest on Hickman’s WFAA-TV television program, but the relationship eventually turned personal.
“Fred was so gracious and sensitive. He really respected Obama and was a big fan of his work,” Michelle Obama said in an interview with her father, Fred Sr., years after he retired from broadcasting.
Hickman took to Twitter in the past week to express his support for the president.
President Obama’s father, Barack Obama Sr., told Fox in 2011 that he found out that the president’s father was a fan of his TV program when the two met years before.
“What was most interesting was Fred had told him, ‘I know your father is an avid fan of my program on WFAA TV and that’s what got him interested in me,’” Obama Sr. told the Fox website. “He said ‘he really liked it.’”