With the heavy turnover in Austin television news, it is easy to forget that the sports directors have been here for many years. FOX 7’s Dave Cody has 27 years, KVUE’s Mike Barnes, 23, KXAN’s Roger Wallace, 17, YNN’s Ricky Doyle, six, and KEYE’s Bob Ballou, five.
In the third of a five part series, the dean of Austin sportscasters, Dave Cody, talks about his many great experiences.
Dave Cody’s brother, Bill, was an NFL offensive lineman who was blocking when Tom Dempsey kicked his record-setting 63-yard field goal to win a game for the New Orleans Saints in 1970.
Want more great stories? Just spend a few minutes with Cody, FOX 7’s sports director, who will provide you a veritable trip down memory lane peppered with references to some of the biggest stars and most famous events in sports history.
Cody, 55, credits his success here in Austin to solid training back in his native Alabama. Unlike his football playing brothers, he tended more toward the statistical and analytical side of sports while attending a Montgomery high school. Following a long family tradition, he went to Auburn University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in speech communications in 1978.
“My mentors were Jim Fife, the radio voice of Auburn football, who gave me my first radio reporting job, and his TV counterpart, Phil Snow,” Cody said. “I worked where sports was a priority. It was a great training ground. I learned so much being around big time college football and I’ve been able to bring those experiences to my work in Austin.”
Cody Covered Auburn and Alabama before Austin move
For example, Cody says he covered both Auburn and the University of Alabama through their regular seasons and bowl games, as well as Bo Jackson’s campaign for the Heisman trophy, so that he was prepared for similar assignments covering the University of Texas bowl games and Ricky Williams’ Heisman run.
While at Auburn, Cody worked at both the campus radio station and a local commercial station doing news. The news director at WSFA-TV in Montgomery heard him and gave Cody his TV start as the weekend sports anchor in 1979. From there, he went on to stations in Huntsville and Memphis as the main sports anchor.
“I knew coach Bear Bryant from my Alabama days, so I went back to cover his funeral for the Memphis station in 1983,” Cody recalled. “I’ll never forget the people lining the highways from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham to watch his hearse go by on the way to his burial site.”
After returning to Huntsville as 10 p.m. sports anchor and being named Alabama's sportscaster of the year in 1984, the Times-Mirror-owned station in Birmingham sent Cody's tape to KTBC-TV, then Austin's CBS affiliate and also owned at that time by Times Mirror. He won the Austin job and moved here in 1985.
He is “Entrenched” in Austin
Cody has covered all the major sporting events here, including the UT national championship run in 2005, the Dallas Cowboys in the Super Bowl, the Texas Rangers’ World Series appearances, the San Antonio Spurs’ championships and many more. He says he has had offers to move but he is “entrenched” here.
“I love college football because it changes every year,” Cody said. “I love the unpredictably of it and it’s one of the main reasons I stay here. This is a terrific sports market.”
Cody and his sports colleagues, Dennis de la Pena and John Hygh, have been together for eight years. Although he supervises them, Cody says all have input on stories. He says he also tries to be sure that they get to cover the big events, gathering experience as he did back in Alabama.
“My guys are great and I tout them as often as I can,” Cody said. “Their work ethic is incredible.”
With FOX 7's one hour news programs at 5 p.m. and 9 p.m., Cody gets on average four-and-a-half minutes in the late show and three minutes in the 5 p.m program for his sportscasts, but he also has the flexibility to get more time for important sports stories.
Fox Ownership Brings Many Sports to KTBC
“We are invested in sports at KTBC,” Cody said. “Our Fox network is also expanding with the new college football package, the NFL, baseball and the World Cup down the road. We help the network--I fed the Mack Brown news conference to Fox Los Angeles just the other day for use on its Wednesday program.”
Since Fox also owns the Speed Channel, Cody is looking forward to the upcoming Formula One race in Austin. He says his station will have a huge presence. Cody will be emceeing the F1 kickoff luncheon.
Dave Cody is a happy man, both professionally and personally. He’s very proud of having just dropped 70 pounds in a fitness program which he calls a “life changer.”
“I love what I do,” Cody said. “Every day is different. I might be on the phone at 7 a.m., but I still have a passion after 33 years.”