KTAR’s Jim Cross to be inducted into Arizona Broadcasters Hall of Fame
PHOENIX – For a man who once said he had no interest in working on news stories, veteran Phoenix radio reporter Jim Cross has showed quite an aptitude for it.
The KTAR News 92.3 FM newsman will be inducted into this year’s Arizona Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame, organizers announced Monday.
“It’s an honor, it’s humbling,” the award-winning Cross said. He has been in radio for 40 years, 25 of them in news in Arizona, covering such diverse subjects as the Oklahoma City bombing, wildfires, immigration, crime, storms and presidential debates.
The job, he said, “is a lot of work but worth every second of it.”
He is part of a three-person class along with Phoenix radio pioneer Larry Daniels, who helped make KNIX into a country music powerhouse, and Jeanne-Marie Condo, who built a national syndicated radio network from her Arizona base.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the class of 2020 will be inducted during the Arizona Broadcasters Association’s fall 2021 awards luncheon.
Cross joined KTAR News in July 1999. His first assignment seemed simple enough – covering Fourth of July fireworks held at the Peoria Sports Complex.
Instead, there was a fatal explosion. A display technician was killed when the fireworks went off too soon.
“What should have been a celebration turned into anything but that,” Cross said.
He would soon begin making a name for himself with wildfire reports from many of the largest blazes in state history, among them the Wallow Fire in 2011, the Rodeo-Chediski Fire in 2002 and this year’s Bush Fire.
The Rodeo-Chediski fire tore through 468,638 acres in east-central Arizona. Heat and flames were bearing down on Show Low, where Cross and other media members were camped out on one particular Sunday.
“I was absolutely terrified. It was the most nervous I’ve been on a story,” he said. “About a mile outside of Show Low, the flames were 50 stories high.”
Cross’ work has earned him multiple awards from the Associated Press and as part of KTAR News‘ Edward R. Murrow prizes.
“We are so proud of Jim and the important work that he has done giving Arizonans a front row seat to some of the most consequential news stories of the past two decades on KTAR,” Bonneville-Phoenix Vice President of Programming Ryan Hatch said.
“He’s a wonderful person, a first-class journalist and we’re absolutely thrilled that he’s being formally recognized in the Hall of Fame,” Hatch said.
And none of it would have happened if he had stuck with being a music deejay, which was his plan in Idaho back in 1985.
Station owner Mike Ripley thought he had a future in news.
“I said ‘No,'” Cross said.
A few years later at a country music station in Washington state, he had to fill in on news.
“I liked it,” Cross said, “and it turned into a 25-plus year career that I love.”