In March 2001, years after setting foot in sports broadcasting, Tom Ladd found himself immersed in an amazing story – that of the Missouri State University Lady Bears basketball team.

A team, that is, that reached the NCAA Final Four with the legendary Jackie Stiles (MSHOF 2002), and did so in St. Louis not from his hometown.

“It was honestly one of the most memorable moments (months) of my broadcasting career. And really the whole season was a joy to be a part of because that team was so good and full of some great people to travel with.” Ladd said. “I would compare that team to traveling with the Beatles due to Jackie’s national recognition.”

Call it a highlight among many for a broadcaster who delivered the game through radio. Certainly, his success is why the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame proudly inducted Ladd with the Class of 2024.

Ladd has worked in Missouri since 1989, and in Springfield since 1995, and mostly as the longtime Voice of the Lady Bears for Meyer Communications and then Zimmer Communications when it purchased Meyer.

He has called 12 NCAA Tournament teams, including the 2001 Lady Bears’ Final Four season, as well as two Sweet Sixteen teams and a WNIT championship. He was on the call when Stiles became the all-time leading scorer in NCAA women’s basketball history.

That’s been part of calling nearly 1,000 games for Missouri State in football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, soccer, volleyball and baseball, either on radio and TV.

He also has worked for MSHSAA television for state softball and state baseball in Springfield and Ozark, respectively, and handled Premier baseball championships for nearly 20 years on web TV. The Cal Ripken 13U World Series in Branson and the National Juco World Series in Enid, Okla., also are on his resume.

Even better, he started from the bottom.

A three-sport athlete at Triad High School in Troy, Ill. Ladd later handled public address announcing for high school football games and liked it so much that he enrolled at the Broadcast Center St. Louis. He then worked for a station in Sparta, Ill., before heading to KTJJ/KREI Farmington in eastern Missouri.

“The manager there, Mark Toti, was good enough to take a chance on a young broadcaster,” Ladd said. “And I’ll tell you that I learned more from that job than in any other in this business. I did everything in this business there: local news, sports, trading post, morning DJ, play-by-play, remotes. It was an invaluable experience for me.”

In Farmington, he called basketball and baseball games for Mineral Area College, a community college. In time, Lebanon broadcaster Press Semar recommended Ladd for an opening at Meyer Communications in Springfield.

“Once I got to Springfield, having Art Hains (MSHOF 2017) with me day to day was the best person I could possibly learn from,” Ladd said of a sports broadcaster who, before becoming the Voice of the Missouri State Bears, did radio for Southern Methodist football’s Pony Express and the Dallas Cowboys.

Ladd’s arrival came during the Golden Era of Lady Bears basketball, and he rolled up his sleeves to make the broadcasts outstanding.

His preparation actually began in the offseason, as he spent hours learning background on players and history before studying bios for opposing players. In season, it’s two hours of prep work on game days.

And, despite the station being contracted with Missouri State, Ladd also made certain to be fair – both to the team but also to listeners.

“I still think we have to be honest with our listeners,” Ladd said. “I try very hard to give credit when it’s due, and explain that this team is not playing their best game when they are struggling or when an opponent is just better.”

That professionalism is why he has won awards. Ladd earned the Missouri Broadcasters Association’s top play-by-play announcer award in 2001 and 2022. He later called Drury basketball in 2006 and 2007 while sales manager for the Springfield Cardinals, and returned to Meyer Communications a year later.

He thanks coaches, players and administrators for all their support over the years. Best of all, he had his wife, Sharon, and their children, Holly and Skyler, in his corner.

“It’s more rewarding when I realize that it’s something I love to do,” Ladd said of sports radio. “I see and talk to people all the time that are unhappy with their careers for one reason or another. I can honestly say that I love what I do.”