Dan Hicken is no chicken.
The sports director at NBC’s Jacksonville affiliate, WTLV, for over two decades, was feeling particularly antsy on Tuesday night as NBC’s coverage of the Olympics from London, albeit with the action shown on tape delay, ran a little long, and Tuesday night turned into Wednesday morning on the East Coast.
So right after his sports update on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, Hicken seized the opportunity to blame Bob Costas, of all people, for the reason NBC’s Olympics coverage went into overtime. He could have pointed a finger at the sponsors having a hand in NBC’s commercial-laden coverage (which really wouldn’t make much sense since that’s business). He also could have tore into Ryan Seacrest just for the hell of it (which also wouldn’t make much sense since he’s not really as much of a nuisance on NBC’s Olympics coverage as one might have suspected). But instead, Hicken crushed Costas, the face of NBC’s Olympics coverage – and it made for some damn good television. His rant was so strong, it drew applause from colleagues off-camera, including what sounds like applause emanating from the anchor desk at the end.
More thoughts following the transcript of the video.
DONNA DEEGAN, FEMALE ANCHOR: Been watching the Olympics, Dan?
DAN HICKEN, SPORTS DIRECTOR: He did it to us again! He did it again! He does it every four years. Bob [Costas] doesn’t know that twelve o’clock means twelve o’clock. It doesn’t mean 12:02, it doesn’t mean 12:04, it certainly doesn’t mean 12:07. Bob, when it’s twelve o’clock, you say good night! You don’t care, ’cause you’re sleeping right now! And in the morning, you’ll wake up with your strawberries and cream at your five-star [hotel]! Bob, we’re here on the East Coast working hard for you, our NBC family, Bob!
[Off-camera applause from staffer]
DEEGAN: You tell him, Dan!
HICKEN: 12:07 does not work for us! I’m glad we had the little gymnast girls, I’m excited about it; I’m glad we got to interview Michael Phelps six times. But, Bob! Twelve o’clock – and it’s just starting! It’s just starting. You watch. Mark my words, Jacksonville. Tomorrow, it’ll be 12:09. 12:10, 12:11 – he starts to push it, that Bob does. I’m done.
HICKEN: I love him, though.
JEFF MARCU, MALE ANCHOR: He’s great.
HICKEN: He’s a great broadcaster.
Lest anyone thought Dan Hicken was really pissed at Bob Costas. In fact, moments before his rant, he had actually given Costas accolades on his Twitter account. “Awesome dude,” Hicken tweeted. “In the late 80’s,” [Costas] sat down with me on a Sunday night and co-hosted my sportscast. Was so good. Really an honor.” This in response to an employee at an Alabama sports website who asked Hicken if, “as an NBC cohort,” he ever met Costas and “if so, did you refer to him as ‘Bobby’?” Indeed, Hicken was in rare form on his Twitter account on Wednesday morning – and we’ve got those tweets for you in a bit.
But first: Interesting that the female anchor of WTLV’s late news, Donna Deegan, was actually Hicken’s wife at one time. Prior to their divorce, Dan and Donna had bore children named Danielle and Drew – kinda like a Roger Clemens thing going on with the first-letter initial theme? And just to put that video in an even more uncomfortable perspective, Donna has since remarried, tying the knot ten years ago with Tim Deegan – who has only been WTLV’s chief meteorologist for about as long as Hicken has been the station’s sports director. Also, for some weird reason, Donna had still been going by the name “Donna Hicken” on the air up until about five years ago. Makes you wonder if Dan Hicken had planned his Costas manifesto with the anchors prior to going on the air, or if his ex-wife decided to set him off just for shits and giggles. Though it does appear the two appear to get along, even off the air.
Also, there’s an interesting comment posted on the original YouTube video, from a WTLV viewer claiming that Hicken’s meltdown on Tuesday night was, more or less, an encore performance. “I don’t think Dan’s rant was [about] the coverage going over time,” writes YouTube user “msinkification”. “If you had seen the news around 5-6, Dan went into a tirade directed toward the staff after it was mentioned that he was “training”… Anyways, his behavior earlier was somewhat worse than this. He got mad and said he didn’t know why the staff was laughing at him. He was very unprofessional and immature.
“I always respected Dan until that segment. Seeing it happen twice in one day? Not acceptable.”
The YouTube commenter also suggested that ever since Hicken’s ex left him for the station’s weather guy, “his behavior has always seemed more intense… It all seemed to be more like a daily soap opera being played out on the air. If the tensions are something personal, which I believe it is, someone needs to take some time off or move on.”
If anyone in the First Coast has any video or additional information on Hicken’s alleged outburst at 5 PM on Tuesday, let us know.
(Perhaps a Twitter beef with a local soccer star earlier that day led to this? Hmmm…)
Anyway, as promised, below are tweets from Dan Hicken’s Twitter account, mostly from Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. You can tell just based on a tweet from late Sunday night/early Monday morning that this thing was brewing. The last set of tweets is one from Wednesday night, addressing what the “over/under” is on Bob Costas’ sign-off that night, followed by a group of tweets from Thursday night. That’s weird, not a peep from his Twitter on Wednesday night/Thursday morning. Was he on the air that night? And could a suspension be on the way? We’ll let you know.