Dave Ross is a certifiable genius. If you haven’t noticed I don’t say that about many people. Everyone in the family loves listening to his political rants on the CBS radio network.
I first ran into Ross when he gave me the needle over some unkind remarks I made about the PR community in some column or other about 10 years ago. He did a high tech show on Seattle Radio which I personally thought was soft and pandering although he didn’t mind calling me an a-hole for being a meanie. He then showed up in the early shows of CNet Central on TV where I was also worked. I was cast as the cynical CD-ROM reviewer with my trademark being the tossing of a CD into the camera with a Frisbee throw if I didn’t like the program. Ross was at the end of the show doing a cornpone analysis of the computing scene often with his guitar and some rhymes. It got no traction and he was gone. Ross kept doing radio and one day a few years ago he began as a regular commentator on CBS radio.
Now I need to stop here and explain something. I’ve done a lot of TV and radio and every time I get hired to do something someone wants me to do what Ross does, a short one or two minute pithy commentary. There is an excellent reason I don’t do them. I consider it one of the most difficult things to write and produce in broadcasting. It’s exactly why Andy Rooney stays on and those jokers on 60 Minutes II cannot come up with someone who can do this sort of thing with consistency. It’s essentially impossible. And 60 Minutes is once a week. Ross does them more often. He’s a genius I’m telling you and now that he’s in the groove he can crank these out forever.
And his batting average for these things is about .900! It’s amazing.
The only other guy I’ve seen produce this much material in this form was a TV commentator in the 1980’s called Wayne Shannon. He appeared on KRON for what seemed like years doing a daily commentary at the end of the news. I never cared for his material but he would hit the home run once in a while with a few bon mots and some well deserved ridicule of local politicos. The trouble was he was a big fat guy in a tight suit who was very reminiscent of Oliver Hardy. I don’t know that he killed the ratings of the TV show because I think most people watched him even when he was annoying. But when he quit or was let go he was never replaced. The fact is he couldn’t be replaced. Nobody can do serious commentary with or without the addition of humor (Wayne tried to be cute and funny) day after day without a team of staff writers. It’s just that simple. There are a couple of guys in LA doing it and they stink. If you try to find references to Shannon on the Internet they are scant and he apparently did not make much of an impact anywhere.
Ross is different. He has impact but lacks TV charisma with a skinny starvation look that simply does not match his big voice. He has the same sound and timbre of Charles Osgood. Most people in broadcasting would shoot their mother to have this voice. The fact is that Ross is the perfect replacement for Andy Rooney insofar as material goes, but the TV thing looks elusive for now. I’d suggest he fatten up and see what happens. I get the sense he’s a vegan or vegetarian or breathairian or something. I’ve never asked him.
Meanwhile Ross has a website here and the reason for this post is because he’s now peppering his commentaries with song parodies – another hard-to-accomplish skill set he owns. This song about Saddam Hussein linked here is simply stunning. Enjoy.
And maybe a new fan will help him redesign his website (pleeeeze).