By Adam Brown
Oxford native Richard Cross was named the Sportscaster of the Year in the state of Mississippi earlier this month. Hottytoddy.com’s Adam Brown got to sit down with him to learn more about his passion for sports and family.
Adam: Can you talk to me about how you got started in broadcast?
Cross: I played quarterback at Oxford High School and my senior year. I was the starter, and that’s where my athletic pursuits were going to come to an end. I loved sports and wanted to stay involved so my freshman year at Ole Miss I started calling the Oxford and Lafayette games on the radio. That was my entire point into this career with high school football first, and then I filled in for David Kellum on baseball games when he was doing basketball games. Then I started doing women’s basketball games and it has grown slowly over the course of 20 years.
Adam: What does the Sportscaster of the Year Award mean to you?
Cross: First of all, this something that is voted on by your peers of other broadcasters and writers in Mississippi. To have people who are my colleagues think enough of my work that they would vote for me as the top broadcaster in Mississippi is humbling. The other part of it is I have known about this award for a long time in years when David Kellum wins it or Jack Crystal, Jim Ellies or John Cox… these are guys that I have grown up listening to that I have a great deal of respect for. To win an award that those guys have won as well is certainly a great honor.
Adam: Talk to me about your radio show “Sports Talk Mississippi” and the following from it.
Cross: We have a statewide presence as we are in all 82 counties and on five days a week from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. It is an opportunity to communicate on a daily basis. A sports talk radio show is a dream of mine going back to when I was in high school listening to the old southern sports night conference call. It had a really neat model and we were able to focus just on Mississippi as opposed to all over the place.
It has been kind of a dream come true to be able to host a show. I am doing something that I love I wake up every morning and I get to talk about sports for a living.
Adam: What are some of your favorite games you have gotten to call over the years in any sport?
Cross: Last season, I was able to broadcast the SEC Baseball tournament, as I filled in for David Kellum the entire week. To see Ole Miss win a championship against LSU in the SEC Baseball Tournament that was a really cool moment for me.
Go back to the mid-2000s when I remember calling women’s basketball when Armente Price was a senior and Carol Ross was the head coach. That was a neat deal as they defeated TCU in the first round game and turned around and beat Maryland who beat them by 30-points earlier in the year. That got them to the sweet 16 to face Oklahoma and ran them out of the gym before getting knocked out by Tennessee in the Elite Eight.
On the TV side of things, I called LSU at Texas A&M as we were just figuring out who Tremont Waters was at LSU. He burst on to the scene as a freshman and hit two 3-pointers from about 30 feet each in the last minute of the game. The Tigers won it on the road as some other things happened to go their way.
What has been gratifying to me is I have had the opportunity in basketball and baseball to broadcast a bunch of Mississippi State games in the last five years. Because of the rivalry and because of the radio show, a lot of Mississippi State fans who are not fans of mine are based on that. I have been able to win over a lot of the Bulldog fans from just doing TV games when they are not playing Ole Miss. It is just me trying to do the same job on another game. I think they have appreciated that.
Adam: What has it been like for you to be the sideline reporter during Ole Miss football?
Cross: First of all, the reason I got the position is that my good friend Stan Sandorni passed away suddenly several years ago. I still think of him on a regular basis. He was a character unlike any other. That’s the reason I got the opportunity. Over the last five or so years it has been a roller coaster of emotions for fans and the results have been a roller coaster as well – to go from 2-10 and 0-8 in the SEC to a bowl game to a better bowl game.
To me, the moment that will stay with me forever as an Ole Miss fan is that night in New Orleans. To play in the Sugar Bowl—which in my lifetime I had only heard about—to get to be there, to be on the field to experience the joy not just for the team but for the fans. For me to be able to look up from the sideline about 25 rows up and there is my wife, my mom, my in-laws and two of my three kids.
The coolest part for me is the guys I get to work with. Bret Norsworthy is in the pre-game show and we have been together the entire time. I’ve spent time with Harry Harrison who has become a friend. More than anything else get to be around David Kellum and get to work with him on a weekly basis during football season. By spending a lot of hours together in the car on the road, in airplanes, I look at him as a big brother, a mentor, and a friend. I would not trade that relationship for anything in the world.
Adam: Can you tell us something unique about yourself that your listeners might not know about you?
Cross: I am about the luckiest guy in the world. I have a beautiful, ambitious and caring wife who has supported me all the way. I have three fun and healthy kids who keep us on our toes. I am getting to do radio, TV and I have been very fortunate to chase the dreams that I have. I get to do what I love and make a living doing it.
We are fortunate to be very involved in the Oxford community as my wife owns a store on the Square. Because of that has been able to chase her dream. We are extremely involved with our church The Oxford Church of Christ. We are really involved with a fundraiser for St. Jude for a Taste of Oxford. We have raised over $1 million dollars in a decade. That’s who I am away from the radio and TV. I love watching sporting events when I am not there, hanging out with my wife and kids. We spend a lot of time in the summer at the lake.
Adam: How special is this place to you and your family?
Cross: The cool thing for me is our entire family is here. My wife’s parents are here. They live at the lake. This is really the place we want to raise our kids. I have been able to carve out a niche in Oxford. I love where we live. We have great schools, friends, and family. To be able to do exactly what I want to be doing and live exactly where I want to live is pretty incredible.