Ross worked as a radio host at WIBV, KSHE, WSIE and KZQZ. He was also a promoter for A&M records. Ross is best known in the St. Louis area for his love and promotion of jazz. Ross followed in the footsteps of his father and mastered the trumpet, touring Europe with the University of Miami band. Gentile was 15 when he first experienced life as a disc jockey at radio station WIBV in Belleville. "I started work at the station, emptying waste baskets," he said. "Moe Harvey, a disc jockey, was my mentor."
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville music professor Rick Haydon grew up with Ross and said Ross was a great champion for local talent. "He recognized how much talent was in the area and he worked to promote that," Haydon said. Haydon credited much of the success for his 2006 album "Just Friends" to Gentile's work promoting the album throughout the country. "I think he was primarily responsible for getting it as high as it was in the charts," Haydon said. "Just Friends" peaked at No. 19 on the Jazz Week Top 100 charts. Gentile could frequently be found emceeing jazz events throughout the area. "He was a huge presence in the jazz scene in St. Louis," Haydon said. "He is going to be missed. We're going to miss him."
Musician and former SIUE music professor Brett Stamps said Gentile was intensely into jazz and went to great lengths to promote it. "If he liked your music and your presentation, he was very supportive," Stamps said. "He was supportive of everything I did, so I was very appreciative."
KZQZ production manager Ray Diamond said Ross would do anything to help another person. Diamond, who went to Belleville West High School, said it was Gentile who influenced him to get into the radio business. "When I was in high school, I would make radio shows on cassette and he would listen to them and critique them for me," Diamond said.
Jerry Berger, longtime writer for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, was a close friend of Ross. "He was unconcerned about his girth and nothing could surpass his love for grilling tenderloin for friends".
"So sad he's gone. He was a treasure and I will miss him greatly. He knew music and was devoted to helping people like me, the new kids on the block at the time, who were still trying to find our place". Ann Hampton Callaway.
"Ross was not only one of the most significant voices of jazz, he was a tremendous force, and he will be missed greatly". Donald Wolff, a longtime friend, attorney and noted jazz expert who hosted his own radio show.
"He was our champion", singer-guitarist and swing musician John Pizzarelli said Tuesday from a studio outside of Brooklyn, N.Y., where he was recording his latest album.
J.C. Corcoran: "I can't express my sadness over Ross' passing. I imagine it will be quite heart-warming for you to know Ross had so many people who loved and respected him, and who appreciated all he did for them".
Ross Gentile was the popular voice of jazz over the airwaves of radio station WSIE at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Thousands of fans tune in daily to the station at 88.7 FM to listen to Gentile and his treasure of jazz artists. Gentile's friendly, mellow radio voice is a daily companion to jazz lovers in their homes, riding along with them in their cars and making the day pleasant for listeners in their work places. "We're like a family," Gentile said, describing his relationship with his listeners. A love of music for Gentile, 56, and his sister, Dianne, blossomed in the home of their parents, Betty and Sam Gentile in Caseyville. His father was a talented trumpeter whose sweet notes on the horn drew fans to hear him play with bands in the St. Louis area in the 1940s. Gentile followed in the footsteps of his father and mastered the trumpet, touring Europe with the University of Miami band. Gentile was 15 when he first experienced life as a disc jockey at radio station WIBV in Belleville. "I started work at the station, emptying waste baskets," he said. "Moe Harvey, a disc jockey, was my mentor."
Gentile answered the call of his country in 1972 and served in the Army reserves.
He met famous St. Louis TV personality Jim Bolen and worked part time as an engineer for the popular radio jazz show from Bolen's home. "One day I arrived at Bolen's home and I was surprised when singer Mel Torme was sitting in his living room," he said. Gentile became a lifelong friend of Torme, whose mellow singing voice was one of the greatest in jazz history. "Mel Torme appeared on my three-hour radio tribute to Bolen when he died," Gentile said.
Sitting in his favorite place behind the microphone, Gentile is an artist whose words capture the heart and soul of jazz and paint a portrait of great jazz personalities. He experiences the love of jazz from his personal friendships and interviews with music stars such as Vic Damone, Frankie Lane, Toni Tennille, Sammy Nestico, Ann Hampton Callaway, John Pizzarelli, The Carpenters, Head East, Maguire Sisters and Peter Frampton.
In 1974, he became the Midwest regional promotions director for A&M Records in Los Angeles, Calif., where he earned numerous gold and platinum records and was responsible for the signing of the rock group Head East to a long term recording contract with A&M. He promoted and remained personal friends with artist such as Beatle George Harrison, Peter Frampton, the Carpenters and music greats: Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Ella Fitzgerald and many others. "In 1981 I traveled with Frank Sinatra on a tour of South Africa," said Gentile, a busy host for live jazz shows at St. Louis area clubs. Jazz stars appeared on his show in the studio in Dunham Hall on the campus of SIU-E.
THE BELOW PHOTO DISPLAYS SOME OF ROSS'S GOLD & PLATINUM ALBUMS HE RECEIVED FROM PROMOTING ARTISTS: STYX, THE CAPTAIN & TENNILLE, PETER FRAMPTON, THE OZARK MOUNTAIN DAREDEVILS, THE BROTHERS JOHNSON, THE CARPENTERS, SUPERTRAMP, RITA COOLIDGE, BILLY PRESTON, AND JOAN BAEZ.