Rod Ross never played hockey — opting for football, basketball and baseball while attending Berlin High School — but his love for the sport would help shape a 43-year career in radio broadcasting, most notably for Berlin High School and Notre Dame teams, and the Berlin Maroons on WBRL.
Born in Everett, Massachusetts, and raised in Berlin, Ross was a sports enthusiast. He graduated from Berlin High School and went on to Plymouth State College, where he fell in love with theater, a passion that would encompass his life as both an actor and a director. He worked on dozens of productions through the years and has influenced hundreds of people in both school and community theater performances.
His radio career was born while he was home for the summer one year from Plymouth State, helping out his father, Charley, a radio announcer in town. Ross began at WBRL in 1964 and, over 43 years, estimated he broadcast nearly 2,000 games.
“There are two reasons why Rod was an exceptional broadcaster,” said his brother, Rusty Ross. “First, the way he would broadcast games and second, the preparation and enthusiasm he brought to the game. He obviously knew the players on the Berlin teams (and) he took the time to learn the players on the opposing team. So, it was a professional, balanced broadcast and he certainly conveyed the excitement of the game to the listeners.”
After one of his first times on the job, he asked his father what he thought of the way he was reading the news. “It was good,” said Charley, who passed away in 1962 from lung cancer at the age of 46, “but don’t read it like you’re performing Shakespeare.”
In his early years of broadcasting hockey, there were only four high school teams in New Hampshire — Concord, Hanover, and rivals Berlin High School and Notre Dame High School. That presented a challenge to Ross, a Berlin High grad since Notre Dame was on top of the rivalry in those years. He admits that he might have shown a bias for Berlin only because the Notre Dame team was so dominant.
His radio career also found him broadcasting the Berlin Maroons games, a favorite team of the North Country. He would also broadcast a few University of New Hampshire games.
Ross moved to The Villages in Florida in 2003 with his wife, Debbie, where he is the official spokesperson for the Red Sox Nation Club at The Villages. He has interviewed such notables as Rico Petrocelli, Pedro Martinez and Luis Tiant. He has also become a personal friend of Claudia Williams, the daughter of baseball great Ted Williams.
Ross credits his father for giving him the best advice for sports broadcasting: “You have to remember that the people listening can’t see what you are seeing. It is not good enough just to describe what’s happening. You have to paint a picture for them.”