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Nicole Boone: Sharing Smiles

Every weekday, viewers tune in to WBTW to see and hear their favorite news anchor, Nicole Boone. Her friendly, open, personality has made her one of our area’s most popular television personalities. When you meet Nicole, or Nickie, her real name, you soon realize that the woman you see on screen is exactly the same engaging woman in person. Nickie became Nicole when she started her broadcasting career. Nickie’s manager convinced her to change her name, and she laughed, telling me, “It’s not that way today. We are much more open and allow people to be who they are.”

Since 1989, Nickie has been a familiar face, a friend who reported our news and shared in our happiness and pain. But, as Nickie says, “everything changes,” and in November, this beloved news anchor will leave her long-running position for a brand new chapter. As we started our chat, I asked Nickie to talk about some of the changes she’s seen since coming to WBTW. “The biggest is the technology,” she said, thinking back. “When I started you had a huge camera and a large light and tripod. Now everything is so small and done digitally – there’s no tape.” Nickie said the WBTW studio is absolutely gorgeous also, with state of the art equipment and technology.

Nickie continued, looking back at the ups and downs of her industry. “Our market has grown due to the population size of our area, and we moved the main facility from Florence to Myrtle Beach, but the coverage area remains the same.” Television, like most industries, went through a difficult few years after the 2008 recession. “That was a hard time, but I am so thankful and proud to be a part of this station for so long. We have a lot of good people.” Nickie and her co-anchor, Bob Juback, have been together nearly 27 years, one of the longest running anchor teams in the United States. “Bob is like my TV husband/brother. We have been through so much together. Our children were born close to the same times, and we both went through divorces. Through it all we looked to each other for support.” It was obvious this is an emotional transition for Nickie. “It’s sad for it to come to an end, but everything changes.”

“The news business is very different today,” she began, thoughtfully. “We have social media platforms that allow people to say things without thinking.” Nickie told me she hopes people will think before they post something on social media that may hurt someone who is really having a bad day. “I show people grace and kindness when I get negative comments,” she said, continuing. “Today people tend to blame the media for everything that goes wrong. My hope is that we can all work together for good.” She was quick to add that her fans are one of her biggest joys and negative comments are few and far between. “It’s important to me to treat people with respect and consideration.”

Growing up in rural Roebuck, South Carolina, near Spartanburg, Nickie was surrounded by a loving extended family. “All of my dad’s family lived on our road. I spent my childhood in the woods; going fishing and hunting, riding dirt bikes – I was always a tomboy.” This love for nature has stayed with Nickie, whose favorite pastimes are walking her dog, biking and hiking – and of course, she loves the beach.

As an only child, her father’s death when she was 18 was very hard. “He was only 42,” she told me. “I didn’t get any grief counseling, and I wish I had. I tell everyone to please go talk to someone who is professionally trained when you have a tragedy in your life.” After losing her dad, Nickie, a freshman, went back to college as planned and graduated from Winthrop with a degree in communications in 1988. Young and eager to work, Nickie’s first job was with WGSC in Myrtle Beach, an evangelical Christian station that is now Fox 43. When she moved to WBTW in 1989, Nickie settled in Florence. Her career flourished, and Nickie married and had two children, the lights of her life.

Unfortunately, her marriage ended, and Nickie’s focus became her children and her career. I asked how her children handled having a mom in the public eye. “My children grew up with it, and Mom being on television was normal,” she told me. “A couple of times I had to bring them to work, but they didn’t think it was anything special. They were more concerned with what we were eating for dinner, and what we were doing on the weekend. I was just Mom.”

Today, Nickie’s children are 19 and 22. Her son, Mac, just graduated from Clemson and is living in Rock Hill, South Carolina, working for the company building the new Carolina Panther’s stadium. Her daughter, Olivia “Livie” is a rising sophomore, also at Clemson. And…Nickie is engaged to the love of her life, Watts Huckabee, whose recent marriage proposal is the reason behind her departure.

“I never thought I would be married again,” Nickie said, her eyes glowing as she talked about Watts. “We dated during my senior year in college, and I was madly in love,” she began. “But it didn’t last and I thought that was it.” The two kept in touch through the years. Nickie is a little sister to his fraternity, so they saw each other at various events. The two dated again, briefly, in 2010, after both had married and divorced, but again, the relationship didn’t last.

“I said God would really have to change my heart for me to be married,” Nickie said with a chuckle. And the change came three years ago when Watts texted, saying he was coming to the beach and would she be interested in having lunch or dinner to catch up. “I told him I’d have dinner, that way we would have a little more time to talk.” The two ended up at Gulf Stream Café, sitting at the bar having a glass of wine. “I got up to go to the ladies room and he reached over to kiss me,” Nicole told me laughing. “I said, no way!” Since that night, the two have been inseparable, spending almost every weekend together, laughing often about that first date. Three years later, this past March, the couple went to the same restaurant to celebrate their anniversary. Unbeknownst to Nickie, Watts had plans to propose. “We were sitting at the bar and he said, ‘I want to kiss you forever,’ and I told him, of course you can honey. I was looking at him and didn’t realize he had a ring in his hand until I saw he was sweating!” Of course, she said yes. “God has given me this tremendous blessing. He sent me this great guy, and I am all in.”

Sometime between now and November, Nickie and Watts will wed in a private ceremony, and Nickie will move to Rock Hill to start her new life. “I will still be working for WBTW once a month,” Nickie shared excitedly. “I asked the station managers if they would be open to me doing live community spots each month and they said yes.” Continuing she said, “This will keep me engaged with audiences and show more of my personality.”

Nickie has reported on some amazing stories during her career. Some, like the story of the lost Baby Grace, were heartbreaking. Baby Grace was drowned by her mother in Socastee in 2015. The story and search for the five month old infant shook our community. “I cried on the air when Baby Grace was found in the waterway.” Nickie told me. “I was the one working when there was a special cut-in reporting she had been found. It was so hard to tell people what happened to that sweet little baby.”

Other stories have been memorable and exciting. “One of the most fun things that ever happened was in the ‘90s when I was sent to Hollywood to interview the stars of the The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful, two popular soap operas.” Nickie told me she was chosen to be an extra in an episode of The Young and the Restless while she was in California, but nothing excited her more than one special interview. “Eric Braeden, the actor who plays Victor Newman, happened to walk by me on the set, and I asked him if I could interview him – and he agreed, inviting me and our cameraman to his dressing room.” Nickie was thrilled just to get the interview, but it got even better. “He said, you know, you’re a pretty girl,” Nickie told me laughing. “I nearly lost it. He made me feel so special. It was one of the most exciting times of my career.”

But, by far, her favorite interviews are the ones with the people living and working in our community. “They are really the best people to interview, and are my inspiration to keep doing what I do. There’s nothing better than meeting someone who truly likes you, they tell you, they’re kind, and you have a connection.”

Nickie shared another new and fun project that will keep her connected – and it’s also great news for those of us who will miss seeing her daily broadcasts. “I have a Facebook Fan Page, and I’ve started airing “Conversations with Nicole” the first Tuesday of every month at 10am.” The format is casual, featuring conversations with community leaders, entrepreneurs, lawmakers, educators, health experts and much more. “If anyone has an idea of someone who should be highlighted, please send me a message on my Fan Page.”

“Television and what I do is so much fun, and I love it,” Nickie said, with obvious emotion, as we finished our conversation. “I never take for granted the responsibility and the community we serve. TV has never been about being on the air. It doesn’t define me; it’s just a part of who I am. Being a child of God, a mom, a good friend and now getting ready to be a good wife is bigger than anything else in my life.”

Join Nicole and Bob at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm on WBTW TV 13. After November, join Nicole monthly as she looks for fun and adventure throughout our community!

One comment

  1. I love your story. You should send it to “Hallmark Movies”; their movies are so romantic and a pleasure to watch. Happy that you are so in love with the new man in your life, who is also an old friend. Congratulations to you both and wish you a long and happy life together.

    We always watch CBS CH 13 because you and Bob J. are great anchors together. We moved here in 1992 and know you two like friends. Will miss watching you two but your new life sounds great!!!

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