Meaford resident and local radio legend Ross Kentner will sign off after more than half a century on the local radio waves this Friday.
Ross started working for Bayshore Broadcasting 56 years ago, a golden age for radio. He was still in high school when he started volunteering for the station in Owen Sound, and before long he was a full time employee, rising through the ranks over the years, ultimately to become general manager.
His distinctive voice and his ability to tell a good story helped to make him a trusted and much loved radio personality, and after 56 years, Ross is certainly due to enjoy some retirement years.
I can't claim to know Ross well, but he has certainly been a friend to this paper over the years. When we opened our first office at the corner of Sykes and Boucher Streets many moons ago, Ross attended the grand opening and he said a few kind words about this paper and the importance of local media. Whenever I bumped into Ross at an event or on the street, he always had a warm smile and some kind words to share.
I think that part of the reason for the success and longevity that Ross has seen in his radio career can be attributed to his dedication to community. Ross has not been an invisible radio face – name the public event, and odds are you'll find Ross somewhere, chatting up the public and beaming his big smile. At 76 years old, Ross's energy and enthusiasm can put many of us who are years younger to shame.
Fifty-six years is a long time to work at any career, let alone with a single employer; we don't see that much these days, and we aren't likely to see many half century employees in any sector in the years to come. I hope, with retirement finally arriving at the end of this week, that Ross can enjoy his retirement – whether that enjoyment is found in travel, or simply sitting on a deck with a good book (though I don't envision Ross sitting for long, even with a good book, the man has too much energy, and too great a passion for the world around him to relax for too long).
While we won't hear Ross's voice wafting over the radio waves after Friday, I'm sure we'll see him around – at the farmers' market on a Friday afternoon, or at Meaford Hall for a community function. His long career and community-minded personality have touched many people over the years, including this particular scribe who has been inspired by his dedication and ethics, and his understanding of the importance of local media, particularly to smaller communities.
When he spoke at our office opening in June of 2011, Ross noted that the media world had been in transition, and it still is. Just as television brought a new way to disseminate news to the frustration of radio and newspapers, the internet and social media have been transforming how we receive our news, much to the frustration of radio, newspapers, and television. Change is inevitable, and Ross found a way to keep forging ahead no matter what challenges presented themselves – that is inspiring indeed.
I'd like to wish Ross and his lovely wife all the best in retirement – it's been well earned. I'd say we'll miss him, but we know we'll see him around.
Ross Kentner speaking to attendees of the grand opening of The Meaford Independent's first office at the corner of Sykes and Boucher Streets on June 4, 2011.