Ross Shafer grew up in the Pacific Northwest and graduated from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington where he studied business management and played varsity football (linebacker). After college, he took a job as a training manager for a department store (Yard Birds) and was able to save $10,000. He took that money and launched his life as an entrepreneur. His first venture was as the owner/manager of America’s only Stereo and Pet Shop in the small town of Puyallup, Washington (population 5,000 at the time).
Cleaning pet cages wasn’t as appealing as it sounded to Ross, so after 3 years he closed the store and took a job as an advertising manager for the 28 store Squire Shops retail clothing chain in Seattle, Washington. Writing ad copy and concocting radio and TV campaigns paid the bills, but at night Ross haunted local comedy clubs in search of a career in joke telling. After years of slogging around the comedy circuit, he won the Seattle International Comedy Competition and immediately became an opening act for performers like Crystal Gayle, Eddie Rabbitt, Nel Carter, Neil Sedaka, and Dionne Warwick.
In l985, Ross pitched a TV show idea to the NBC affiliate in Seattle (KING). Serendipitously, KING-TV had a hole in their broadcast schedule. So, ALMOST LIVE was born and for the next 5 seasons Ross hosted the comedy talk show while he and his team collected 36 Emmys. ALMOST LIVE even won the Esquire Magazine dubious Achievement Award one year for attempting to change the Washington State song to “Louie, Louie. “ During those years Ross also hosted an afternoon drive radio show on the 50,000 watt KJR-AM.