Robert J. Ross Dies: Former Head Of East Coast Operations At CBS

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Robert J. Ross, the former SVP East Coast Operations for CBS Broadcasting, died June 19. He was at the network from October 1998 until his retirement in 2017.

Ross was responsible for the conversion of the CBS Television Network Broadcast Origination Center (BOC) to HD and the construction of the Media Distribution Center (MDC) that provided HD distribution for the CBS and CW networks, as well as video-on-demand; the rebuild of the network’s satellite distribution system; the conversion from videotape to file-based digital distribution for both domestic and international syndication; the restoration of the Ed Sullivan Theater for The Late Show With Stephen Colbert; and the design and construction of key production areas for CBS Sports, the CBS Evening News, and CBS This Morning.

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“The CBS family was saddened to learn of the passing of our esteemed colleague and friend Robert Ross,” according to a network statement. “Over his illustrious career, his incredible skill and accomplishments kept the network at the forefront of technology and a leader in the broadcast business. Simply put, Bob was a brilliant engineer who will be dearly missed. We send our sincere condolences to his family and friends.”

After graduating from Southern Maine Technical College, Ross joined RCA as a service technician, installing TV cameras, telecines and television systems around the globe. He worked for 45-plus years in all areas of broadcast engineering. In 1977, he joined Westinghouse Broadcasting as an engineer at WBZ-TV and continued with Westinghouse for 19 years working at WJZ-TV and KYW-TV. Before the CBS/Westinghouse merger, Ross was VP Engineering for Group W Television Stations; after the merger, he was VP Operations and Engineering at CBS Television Stations.

In October 2009, Ross was elected into the class of the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame. During his acceptance speech, he reminded everyone in senior management to “hug their chief engineer” for all the hard work and long hours they spend keeping the stations on the air. He was also a fellow of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers and a member of the Society of Broadcast Engineers. In 2013, he was appointed President of the North American Broadcasters Association. Five years later, he received a Lifetime Achievement Emmy from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Ross is survived by his wife Elizabeth; daughter Oliva; son Joseph; daughter-in-law-Janine Ross; and sister Judith (Ross) Gordon, her husband Neil and their children, Katie Ferullo and Alison Gordon. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be sent to a local Humane Society in the name of Robert J. Ross.

An East Coast memorial service will be announced in the near future.

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