Milwaukee Talks: FOX 6 anchor Brad Hicks
OMC: And you were almost an Olympic cyclist?
BH: I was really into cycling, and I still am. I always had this battle between my intellectual side and my athletic side, and felt they couldn't live in harmony. I was a bit of a pothead in eighth, ninth and 10th grade. I got arrested in Europe, in Austria, and spent a night in a Salzburg jail. I got back from the trip and was tired of getting in trouble and being paranoid about the cops.
Christmas Eve of 11th grade was the last time I smoked pot. We had enjoyed riding our bikes up in the mountains in the Bay area to get high as kids, and I found that I really just enjoyed being on the bike. It was a great way to avoid the peer pressure, and it became a passion. In the summer of '88, I qualified for Olympic trials in Houston in three events.
OMC: I take it you didn't make it to the Olympics?
BH: Something strange happened on the way to the trials. The intellectual side of me took over. In the back of my mind, I had always been curious about what it would be like to go to the funeral of stranger. This wasn't some sort of a morbid curiosity thing, my mind just works this way. It just so happened that after I qualified after the trials, I read that a student at UC-Davis had been killed in a car crash, so I went to her funeral, taking copious notes about my feelings and my emotions about being at the funeral of a stranger. The long and the short of it is that I never raced a bike again.
OMC: So, you had a life-changing moment at that funeral?
BH: I recognized that I had devoted so much time to training. All I did was study and cycle. At this funeral, I realized that I would never get to know this girl. How many other people would I not get to know because all I did was study and cycle? I still continue to ride for fitness and enjoy it more than I ever did.
OMC: You're pretty introspective, but also a somewhat silly guy in a very serious business. Am I characterizing you fairly?
BH: I think you nailed it. It's a bit of a contradiction, I guess. On one hand, I don't take myself seriously at all, but I do take what I do seriously – to a degree, but not to the point that I let it freak me out. It's a balance, I guess. On my Twitter account, I used to have a saying, "Deep down, I'm a very superficial person."
OMC: Yeah, on your Twitter photo, you're stuffing a Chinese steamed pork bun in your mouth ...
BH: Those are awesome, but you can't get them here. Are you saying I should change the picture?
OMC: Not at all. I'm just saying it looks pretty different than most TV anchors' profiles.
BH: I have no Ron Burgundy gene in me whatsoever. However, there is a time and place when you have to take it very seriously. When the news is serious, you take it seriously. It's kind of like being a pilot. When the pilot is landing the plane, they're focused, they're not screwing around, but the pilot may be a total comedian when he's not sitting in the cockpit. I don't know.
OMC: Do you like anchoring or reporting more?
BH: Wow. People have asked me that. I like them differently. It's like asking whether you like red wine or white wine. I love them both. Each brings a different thing to my life. Being a news anchor, I think, is a very easy job. That's why I don't complain about it. We have the privilege of presenting to the public what is a culmination of a hard day's work of a lot of people. I take that part very seriously. And we're an advocate for the viewer, making sure we answer their questions. I love the reporting side because I love the writing and the creativity.
OMC: Speaking of writing, you dabble as an author, too?
BH: I have 12 different books I'm champing at the bit to write. A few years ago, I started writing a book called "Matchbook." In a nutshell, it's about a 10-year-old inner-city African-American kid who has fallen through the cracks of life and lives with a prostitute, heroin addict aunt and a drug dealer, and the story is about how he changes the life of this biracial man, who has always denied his African-American heritage and roots.
OMC: This sounds serious.
BH: It's a pretty intense story. I've cried writing this story. It's dramatic and emotional. It's gotten bit sidetracked, because four years ago, I started researching my family's genealogy, and oh my God, is that addicting. I have a room of research and I'm trying to compile all of this because my two older brothers are terminally ill, and I want to finish this while they are still with us.
OMC: What does social media mean to TV news? How is it changing your job?
BH: I think it's the equivalent of the birth of radio and its relationship to what it did to newspapers. It's a game changer, and we know that. The way we collect and convey information is changing, and the immediacy is improving. Everyone sees live trucks with the masts – those things are going to be gone in a few years.
OMC: Can Milwaukeeans expect you to stick around for a while?
BH: They should. I didn't come here as a stepping stone. I've been in the business 21 years, and have worked at three TV stations.
OMC: And one of them you left involuntarily.
BH: That's not a lot of movement in my business. I have never been a grass is always greener guy. I had a very comfortable and productive situation when I was in Pennsylvania. I left that for the bigger market and all that comes with it. If I have any professional regrets, it's that move. One of the reasons I decided to come here in '04 is because this TV station felt a lot like the place I worked at in Pennsylvania. People want to come to work here, people like working here. That's what I was looking for, and I found it. Milwaukee is home now.
OMC: And you're a Packers fan now?
BH: O.M.G. Big time. When I moved here ahead of my wife, I walked into a Target and had to pick up a hat and gloves. I called her and told her I was the only person in the store not wearing Packers stuff. We sort of laughed, but since then, many trips to Lambeau. I don't miss a game. I love it.
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