Billy Ross in Sky 4. Photo from the 1980's (KARK Archives).
LITTLE ROCK, AR - KARK is mourning the loss of a former long-time employee who died from an illness Thursday night.
Billy Ross, 53, worked for the station for 27 years from 1984 to 2011. When he left KARK, Ross was the assistant chief engineer.
Before his departure to another Little Rock station, Ross played a big role in keeping KARK on the air by helping maintain a wide-range of broadcast equipment inside the station and at our transmitter facility on Shinall Mountain.
In his early years with KARK, Ross was the engineer for Sky 4, the station's news helicopter. He rode along with reporters and photographers to capture a bird's eye view of stories all across the state.
Known for his handlebar mustache and dry wit, many people who worked with Ross have fond memories of him (see below).
Ross also shared his talents in the community by running broadcast equipment for Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church in Little Rock. He was there every single Sunday for many years as the services were broadcast.
Click here for Billy's obituary and funeral information.
Memories of Billy Ross from some of his former co-workers:
- "Billy was a great person who cared about other people, especially kids. I will never forget the time he told me about an old go-cart he had purchased for his kids which he had rediscovered in his parent’s barn. During our conversation he said, “Do you want it for your kids?” I told him I was interested in buying it if he wanted to get rid of it. He brought it to me the next day. However, when I tried to pay him for it, he wouldn’t accept anything. I insisted and he blurted out, “Fine, give me a dollar.” My kids have had years of enjoyment out of that go-cart and it will always remind me of Billy’s kindness. Billy was also a great story teller. He could entertain a crowd of people for hours with stories of his adventures in TV, playing the banjo, and riding his ATV. He was fun to work with and to be around in general. He always made me laugh. My fondest memory of Billy is he was a true friend. Billy would do anything for someone who needed help. These days, true friends are a rare commodity." Dan Stalnaker, Regional Director of Engineering, Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Inc.
- "Billy Ross was one of a kind. He was so laid back on the job nothing phased him. He had one speed, “slow”, but seemed to always get the job done. Nine people would walk past him down the hall before he got to his destination. He kept KARK on the air many years with his knowledge of transmitters and the operating system of the hub. Billy started out in news as a maintenance guy on their Sony U-matic tape decks and worked his way into I.T. and eventually assistant chief engineer. He taught me a lot about the I.T. world as I moved into that position taking care of news and sales. His sense of humor was one of a kind and he wasn’t afraid to show it. He made my years working in television fun and interesting. He will be missed." Keith Parnell, KARK engineering department.
- "My ole’ buddy Billy Ross. Now, Billy is a transmitter technician. Trans Techs are the real work horses of the broadcast trade. They get up early, stay up all night, pull rabbits out of hats, do something with nothing, and generally work like dogs for a pittance of what their co-workers make. When push comes to shove, techs are the ones that make the signal sing, and bring traveling electromagnetic waves to those of us that need to see their results. He’s as even tempered and good-natured as they come." Bruce Holstead, owner of a business that services broadcasting towers.
- "After engineer Sam Pemberton left KARK, Billy took over the chores of maintaining our TV equipment for the Sky 4 helicopter. I always got a kick out of Billy’s reaction when we went to him with an electronic problem. I might say, 'Billy, my headset is cutting out when I try to call the station on the radio.' He’d pick up the headset and look at it and, as if he was thinking out loud, he would quietly say, 'Well that’s no good is it.' He was so laid back and quiet, I wondered if he was going to do anything about the problem. I would go to lunch and by the time I got back, my headset would be sitting on my desk; good to go. Many engineers had a tendency to complain when we took a problem to them. Not Billy. Not once did he try to scold us reporters or photographers for mishandling the gear (as many engineers did). He would simply do his job and do it well. The last time I saw Billy was in 2007 when I visited KARK. I was glad to see that he was the same old Billy Ross, quiet, laid back and still doing his job. Billy Ross was one of the good guys." Bill Forbes, KARK 4 News reporter (1980s).
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