Monday, May 12, 2008
Defrocked Judge Turns Internet Radio Personality, Entrepreneur
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
Former Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kevin A. Ross’ penchant for the media spotlight led to his removal from the bench, but has served him well as a internet radio talk show host.
“I left the bench in not the most desirable circumstances, [but] it took that experience for me to figure out what I really wanted to do,” he says.
Ross hosts the 60-minute Kevin Ross Show, which provides social and political commentary on BlogTalkRadio.com’s social radio network. According to a release from the site, his show is currently the most popular show under the website’s Current Events category. The show launched in February of this year.
Ross says that, when he was still a judge, fellow Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Marcelita Haynes would often ask her fellow judges: “If you weren’t a judge, what would you be doing now?” He says that most of his colleagues indicated they would relax somewhere or take vacations, but for him: “the thing I would always think about was I wanted to do media.”
Laughing, he continues: “It was almost like a ‘be careful what you wish for’ sort of thing, almost like the universe was propelling me toward that thing that you know in your heart that you want to do.”
While he says, “I’m not crazy about the means of getting here,” he adds, “there is a sense of, okay, I get it God. This is what I’m meant to do. And I feel very blessed doing it.”
Ross says he had long heard the siren song of radio. While working as a Deputy District Attorney, he hosted a program called “Keeping It Real with Kevin Ross” for KABC, but he had to give up the show when he was elected to the Inglewood Municipal Court in 1998, unseating Judge Lawrence Mason.
He was one of the youngest judges in the state at age 34 when he took office, and was elevated to the Superior Court by unification in 2000.
As a judicial officer though, he says, he felt stifled.
“Judges aren’t really able to engage in a public discussion about the things that interest them,” he says, but “I love talking about pop culture, the latest controversies, basically what people would be talking about around the water cooler.”
Being on the radio, he says is “such a natural extension of my personality and the things that interest me.” He adds, “I get such personal fulfillment in having these conversations with people and being a part of a global discussion”
As of late, a lot of that discussion as centered on Barack Obama. Ross says he has an “insatiable appetite” for anything to do with the presidential hopeful.
The African-American Republican says he voted for John McCain but that he is “absolutely ready to switch parties” and vote for Obama if the senator wins the Democratic nomination. That, Ross admits, has been “a lot of fodder for listeners.”
However, he says, “at the end of the day, [the audience] comes because I’m entertaining them. That’s the objective: to entertain, to inspire, to agitate, and to challenge.”
In hindsight, Ross says he looks back on his time on the bench with “fondness.” He comments that he enjoyed being able to relate to the defendants before him, but opined that his desire to achieve that connection with others “to some extent got me in trouble because I went beyond what was considered ‘appropriate’ in matters where I tried to make a difference.”
The Commission on Judicial Performance removed Ross from the bench in 2005 due to misconduct, including improperly commenting on a radio show regarding the high-profile case of a Northern California sex offender seeking to become the first person released from commitment under the Sexually Violent Predator Act, and filming a pilot for a television program called “Mobile Court,” in which he used his name and title for promotional purposes and arbitrated actual legal disputes.
Despite the controversy behind his abrupt departure from the court, Ross says he values the 15 years he spent as a criminal prosecutor and judge. He remarks, “the wonderful thing about being a lawyer is that you learn how to think and how to be very analytical. You have to really be able to hold your own in a conversation”
These skills, he says, are “critical” for talk radio.
And although he left his position as a judge “a little sooner than I would have liked,” he says “the timing couldn’t have been better.”
He note that he “wanted to be a part of the explosion of communication online” when he says he heard about BlogTalkRadio.com.
The Web site’s CEO, Alan Levy, describes it as “democratized media.” He explains that anyone can host their own radio show through the site using just their personal phone, and listeners can tune in from around the world through their computers and an Internet connection.
Levy says the Web site launched about 16 months ago, and was named one of the top 100 Web applications in the world for 2008 by Webware, a CNET site. The site currently hosts approximately 2,600 talk show hosts, and sent out over 11,000 broadcasts last month.
Ross remarks that the Web site “takes talk radio to a whole other level” since anyone can broadcast and people around the world can listen to a show any time they want, and predicts a major shift away from the traditional forms of media to internet broadcasting.
In addition to hosting his show, Ross also maintains a blog called “3 brothers AND A SISTER” and has launched 3 BAAS Media Group, an online branding and public relations company. Ross serves as president and CEO of the company, which specializes in marketing products on what he calls “prime real estate” blogs, social networking Web sites, and other internet locales.
The South Central Los Angeles native attended Gardena High School and Morehouse College before earning his law degree from Southwestern, where he served as president of the Black Law Students Association.
He currently resides in Santa Clarita with his wife, who was his junior high school sweetheart, and two sons. In addition to his program, he co-hosts another show called “The Content Black Woman” on BlogTalkRadio.com, which are both produced by 3 BAAS.
“Radio gives you the opportunity to pursue your passion and share it with others,” he says, “and that’s what I’m doing. This is exactly what I was meant to do.”
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company