People Radio

Remembering Al Ross, Longtime Radio Broadcaster

Ross’s 53-year career included 14 years as host of ‘Spectrum West’ on WPR

V1 Staff |

Al Ross in the Wisconsin Public Radio studio in Eau Claire. (Photo by WPR)
Al Ross in the Wisconsin Public Radio studio in Eau Claire. (Photo by WPR)

Everyone at Volume One is deeply sorry to say goodbye to our very good friend Al Ross, of Wisconsin Public Radio here in Eau Claire, who passed away last weekend after a battle with cancer. Since 2008, Al hosted Spectrum West (which in spirit was the radio version of Volume One), along with The Big River Radio Wave. Al was always very generous to us and so many others in the cultural community with his time, talent, and attention, and his golden voice and wit were always a pleasure to behold. You made a difference here Al, and those of us at Volume One, along with so many across this community, will always remember you fondly. 

Read more about Al here, courtesy Wisconsin Public Radio:

Al Ross, Longtime “Spectrum West” Host on Wisconsin Public Radio Passes Away at 73

MADISON, WI - Wisconsin Public Radio is sad to announce the death of longtime friend and colleague Al Ross, host of the western Wisconsin regional arts and culture program “Spectrum West.” He was 73 years old. Ross joined WPR in 2008, providing local news breaks and announcements during “The Joy Cardin Show” and “Morning Edition” from our Eau Claire studios. The following year, he became the host of “Spectrum West,” a role well suited to his skills as a producer and interviewer. 

“We are all saddened by this news,” Interim WPR Director Tom Luljak said. “Al was a beacon for the arts and humanities in western Wisconsin and an outstanding example of our commitment to serving local communities across the state.” On air and in the community, he was a champion for the arts and served as moderator in the public forums that launched Eau Claire’s Confluence Center and the Pablo Center for the Arts. 

Born and raised in the Fox Valley, Ross enjoyed a 53 year career in radio, including 14 years at WPR. He worked on air and in management at commercial stations in Michigan, Florida and Wisconsin, before launching his own business as an independent producer in the 1990s. “Al was a consummate professional who was always eager to lend an ear and advice to young broadcasters who came his way,” retired WPR Senior Regional Manager Dean Kallenbach said. “He could have retired years ago but told me hosting ‘Spectrum West’ was more fun than any gig of his career.  I'll miss him on the air, and I'll miss him as a friend.”

In addition to hosting “Spectrum West,” Ross co-created and co-hosted a variety show with musician Mac Cherry called “The Big River Radio Wave.” The show — which ran for eight years — was recorded live at the Big River Theatre in Alma, WI and celebrated the culture of the Mississippi River with comedians, musicians, and storytellers. It was broadcast on WPR stations in west and southwest Wisconsin during the summer with select episodes airing statewide.

Rich Kremer, WPR’s Eau Claire-based reporter, remembers Ross as a true believer in the power of the arts to transform lives and communities. Ross won multiple awards for his work, including “Best Interview” and “Best Radio Show” from the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association. 

“For years I watched authors, artists and musicians walk into the studio with Al and would sometimes hear their muffled laughter from my office next door,” Kremer said. “By showtime, he had meticulously transformed those moments into award-winning shows delivered with a smoothness that belied the effort that went into them. Al was a generous colleague, mentor and friend who I will deeply miss.” 

Two memorials are planned for Al:

The first will be on Saturday, Nov. 5 at the Heyde Center for the Arts in Chippewa Falls. The event will run from 5:30 to 8:30pm. The address is 3 South High St, Chippewa Falls. 

The second will be Thursday, Nov. 10 at The Whiting Boathouse in Neenah. The event will run from 5 until 8pm. The address is 98 5th St. Neenah.