Milwaukee Talks: FOX 6 anchor Brad Hicks
If the only Brad Hicks you know is the one you see on FOX 6 news every night, you're only getting part of the story.
Hicks, a northern California native, admits he doesn't take his job too seriously, and sometimes, his sense of humor shows. But Hicks has a contemplative side, too. He came close to competing in the Olympics as a cyclist but a life-changing moment suddenly ended his racing career, and he is concurrently working on several dramatic novels.
Indeed, Hicks' story is more complex than it appears at first glance, and we had the opportunity to delve into it in this latest Milwaukee Talks.
OnMilwaukee.com: Your bio online is so interesting that it almost seems made up, but did you know that the first site that shows up on Google when you search for "Brad Hicks" is about a guy who lists his hobbies as "sex," "pirates" and "art?" I'm assuming that's not you.
Brad Hicks: If this is the same guy, he's all over the place. Of course, most people are interested in at least two of those.
OMC: But your story is only slightly less intriguing. Tell me the meandering path that brought you to Milwaukee.
BH: I got my bachelor's and master's in geography. I was a PBS and National Geographic kid growing up, and I loved documentaries. I thought the world was cool. I went to Texas A&M in 1989 to get my Ph.D. in geography, but my thinking was, I'll be a geography professor and have a cushy lifestyle, maybe become a documentary filmmaker. When I got there, I was already burned out on it. These geography professors thought what they were doing was important, but it's not important, it's just interesting.
As a kid, I loved watching the news on television. I thought it would be neat to do what (an anchor) does, without knowing what he does, but I wasn't one of those kids who always wanted to this. I wanted to be an astronaut or an astronomer or a soil scientist. I thought, why don't I just get into the television business and try to start making documentaries that way?
I wrote this dissertation proposal about how the media stereotypes the world but had no intention of doing the dissertation. As a Ph.D. student I could then force my way into any classes needed for my dissertation, so I could get into a senior-level broadcast journalism class. A professor pointed me to a fellowship that placed me at CNN in the summer of 1990. I put together a demo tape that summer and I never went back to Texas. I never told them I was leaving, I just vanished.
From CNN, I landed a job in Pennsylvania doing a farm report at 5 a.m. I didn't know anything about farming, had never been on a farm in my life. Fortunately, after a year, that show was canceled, and they moved me over to news. I just enjoyed it, it came easy to me. They gave me an anchor job, and I've been anchoring weeknight newscasts since 1995.
OMC: Then where did you go?
BH: I went to San Francisco in 2000. I love wine, and I was out shooting a story and thought, I should start a wine show. I created "Wine Country Living" that I hosted for a while, then I came here in 2004.
OMC: Isn't that sort of the opposite direction for news people?
BH: Well, I was just doing the 5 o'clock newscast and reporting nightside. And NBC came in purchased the station and made wholesale changes, and they got rid of me.
OMC: You've been in Milwaukee for seven years. Do you like it here?
BH: Yeah! I had a couple other job offers when I decided to come here. I flew in here in September and saw people running along the lake, chilling out at Alterra on the Lake. I was sitting there when I decided I was going to take this job. It's proved to be every bit as good as I expected.
OMC: Any similarities between Milwaukeeans and people from San Francisco?
BH: In Milwaukee, if you were Downtown and you saw someone dressed as a pirate, you'd be like, wow. In San Francisco, it's just someone who likes dressing as a pirate.
OMC: Did I read that you were attacked by rabid dogs in India?
BH: In the summer of '84 when I was 21, I was going to go to China, but I had a pen pal girlfriend who moved back to India. I thought I'd spend the summer with her, and took a train across the country, and ended in this village on the west coast of India. I saw all these statues with Ganesh, holding a cross. Being a geography nerd, I had to document this cultural landscape by taking pictures. I was on a jungle path, and all of a sudden, these two dogs out of nowhere just got me. I walked a mile back to the house in the village, all bloody. We would never find these feral dogs, and there were no phones in this village, so we took a motorcycle back into town. One of the uncles of this girl was a doctor, and we spent the day walking to all of these clinics ... and we could not find any of the human rabies vaccine, just the horse one. He found someone in Bombay and flew it down. The doctor reached into a pie tin of used needles that smelled like vodka, shook it off, and it all turned out fine.
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