Al Ross (I knew him mostly as “A-L-R.”) wasn’t just some radio dude (although he did a hilarious impersonation of same). He knew what it was to pull shifts in a paper mill. He preferred hot beefs in a small-town tavern to three-fork dinners. More than once we watched the sun rise over the Mississippi sloughs from a duck blind.

No one ever made me laugh harder, longer, or so helplessly. So many bits: huff-and-puff exercise guy, cheesy deejay guy, fake laugh guy… On the air or in the recording studio, he combined velvet pipes and sterling technique. Every time I step to a microphone, no matter the setting, I’m drawing on very specific things Al Ross modeled.

Some day–allowed the breath and time–I’ll write what this man did for me, taught me, and meant to me. It’ll be a while, though, because the stories are tumbling around one after the other and I want to sort it all out some. For now I’ll just nod to his family, and thank Rich Kremer for writing this profile of the man I knew as “ALR.”

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