MYRTLE BEACH -- The year was 1989. Many parts of South Carolina were recovering from Hurricane Hugo. Just weeks before, one of the strongest earthquakes in our nation’s history had struck the San Francisco Bay area. In international headlines, the Berlin Wall came down after 28 years of dividing East Berlin and West Berlin.
That same year, local television news viewers in Florence and throughout the Pee Dee were introduced to a new face on WBTW-TV. Wednesday marks 30 years of Nicole Boone bringing local news to the Pee Dee.
WBTW was formerly located on TV Road in Florence. At the time, Boone was a fresh face in a world of mostly male news counterparts inside the newsroom.
WBTW news viewers will tell you about Boone’s steadfast approach at delivering the news with compassion and dedication. She has become a household name from Bennettsville to Myrtle Beach and everywhere in between.
And, certainly, Florence will always hold a special place in her heart.
Boone came from humble beginnings. She grew up in rural Roebuck, South Carolina, in the Upstate. Her first job was on a family farm at the age of 12 in her hometown.
At the age of 18, Boone was away at Winthrop College when her father died. While it was an emotional time, she decided to head back to Winthrop to continue her education.
During college, she completed an internship at WSPA in Spartanburg. It would chart her career path.
“I caught the news bug like nobody’s business,” Boone said. “You are the person who advocates for the community. You are the person that is their voice when they don’t have one. You can make a difference in your community. You can form relationships that will last a lifetime. That’s when it really all happened for me.”
She graduated in 1988 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications. Her first job was at a Christian television station in Myrtle Beach. A year later, she found herself looking for a new opportunity. She walked through the doors at WBTW-TV, and she has been there ever since.
And, she has made a difference with her own news philosophy: “I want to win every single story.” Boone has reported on countless stories of local and national importance.
The Susan Smith case in 1994 was emotional for Boone. Smith confessed to driving her vehicle, with her two children inside, into a Union, South Carolina, lake. The two children drowned.
“A mother doing something to intentionally harm her children was overwhelming,” Boone said.
Boone also pointed to other horrific stories, such as the tragic shooting of seven law enforcement officers in a west Florence neighborhood on Oct. 3, 2018.
“I know those agencies and the heart of those people. And, I know Florence. It is just one of those stories that I will never forget.” Sgt. Terrence Carraway and Deputy Farrah Turner were killed in that ambush.
In the 1990s, another story emanating from the Pee Dee region made national headlines. Boone thought back to reporting on the death of James Jordan, the father of basketball star Michael Jordan.
“His body was found in Marlboro County submerged in a lake,” she recalled. “Two Lumberton men were convicted of killing him.”
Mother nature has produced heartaches for residents with hurricanes, floods and wildfires across this region. Boone said the community has always bounced back from adversity.
Her 30 years have not always been filled with sad stories.
In Florence, Boone described seeing the downtown redevelopment come to life in recent years. Through reporting on the progress, she hopes the community appreciates how downtown is now flourishing.
Memories of tobacco crops, once big business for South Carolina, are still fresh for Boone.
“The auctions on opening day of tobacco season were huge,” she said. “The governor came down. He would walk through a tobacco warehouse either in Lake City, Mullins or Darlington. It was our lead story that day.”
Boone also recounted her brushes with Hollywood stardom.
“The job has allowed me do some fun things,” she said. “Getting to meet Tom Cruise was pretty cool.” Cruise was in the area filming “Days of Thunder” at Darlington Raceway.
In the 1990s, Boone also had the opportunity to travel to California when WBTW sent her to do a series of reports on daytime soap operas.
“For about 15 seconds, I was on ‘The Young and the Restless,’” she said. “It was a hospital scene. And, I got to stand in the background on a pay phone.”
Boone said the people of this region are what have inspired her day in and day out.
“The coolest people are just the average people that you meet in the grocery store or going to the schools,” she said. “Kids are always the best, especially the little ones.”
To loyal viewers, it is that down-to-earth nature that has made her relatable for all these years.
Indeed, Boone has earned the title of matriarch of northeast South Carolina news. She has earned awards from the South Carolina Associated Press and the South Carolina Medical Association. Previously, the Morning News named her Best TV Personality, and she has gained recognition from Leadership Florence.
While talking about her countless awards over the past 30 years, Boone quickly turned back to her family: “My biggest awards in my life are my children.”
For many years, she and co-anchor Bob Juback hosted the Children’s Miracle Network Telethon from McLeod Hospital. Juback has been alongside Boone on the anchor desk since 1992. Boone jokingly calls Juback her work husband. The two have been the one constant inside the Florence/Myrtle Beach television market and at News 13.
“When it’s time to retire, whenever that day may come … I want to go out on top,” Boone said. “I hope people remember me as someone who wasn’t just a face on TV but was a person who genuinely cared about other people.”
She speculated her future will involve more time with loved ones.
“My children are at Clemson right now,” Boone said. “My mom and stepfather are in Spartanburg, and I could see myself returning to the Upstate. And, I have a wonderful fiancé who is in Rock Hill.
“So, the future holds time with my fiancé and my family — whenever that time comes.”