Porter was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma, and graduated from Shawnee High School in 1955, then went on to earn a radio journalism degree at the University of Oklahoma. His broadcasting career began at age 14 when he broadcast a few innings in several games involving Shawnee's Class D baseball team, the Hawks, a Los Angeles Dodgers farm club, over KGFF. At age 15, Porter was elevated to play-by-play man of the Shawnee Wolves' football and basketball broadcasts and the Hawks when the regular announcer resigned. At a high school football game one night, Ross was introduced by his father to the legendary Jim Thorpe.
After earning his college degree, Porter was hired by WKY radio in Oklahoma City as a newscaster. He also was a sports anchor for WKY-TV, and at age 24 became the youngest recipient of the Oklahoma Sportscaster of the Year award, and the youngest state winner ever in the nation. Ross repeated the next year. Between 1960 and 1966, he did the play-by-play of the previous day's OU football game on channel 4's one-hour "Sunday Playback Show."
In 1966, at age 27, he left for Los Angeles and subsequently spent 10 years as a sportscaster for KNBC-TV in Los Angeles. He worked alongside Tom Snyder on the 6 PM news and Tom Brokaw on the 11PM news. Porter won two local Emmys.
Porter worked for NBC Sports in the early 1970s, calling NFL football from 1970–76 and Pacific-8 college basketball from 1972-76. Ross was the halftime host of the 1974 Final Four on NBC, the sideline reporter for the network telecast of the 1975 Rose Bowl and was in the tower covering one hole for NBC at the Bing Crosby Pebble Beach golf tournament. Porter had to give up his NBC assignments when he joined the Dodgers in 1977 due to an overlap in seasons. He later was the radio and television voice of UNLV Rebels football and basketball from 1978-92.
During the 1970s, Porter had been the television play-by-play announcer for the high school basketball Game of The Week on KNBC showing matchups between Los Angeles area teams. Former Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax worked as a game analyst with Ross the first year.
Ross was rated among the top 60 baseball announcers of all-time by Curt Smith in his book Voices of Summer.
Ross Porter is the only broadcaster to have been the voice of a World Series champion (the 1981 and 1988 Dodgers) and a college basketball champion (with UNLV in 1990). In 1988, Porter was honored as a Distinguished Alum of the University of Oklahoma.
Porter was known for providing fans with statistical information on players during his broadcasts. He was the host of a pregame and postgame radio show known as DodgerTalk for 14 years, answering phone calls from listeners with questions pertaining to baseball. He was voted Los Angeles Sportstalk Host of the Year the first three years the award was presented by the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Association,and later won it a fourth time.
Ross was inducted into the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2005 with Vin Scully, his colleague of 28 years, as his presenter. In 2007, Porter received the Bill Teegins Excellence in Sportscasting Award from the Oklahoma Sports Museum.
On August 23, 1989, Porter set a major league baseball record for broadcasting 22 straight innings on radio without any replacements, in a six-hour, 14 minute game against the Expos in Montreal.
Porter broadcast the 1977 World Series and 1978 World Series on over 600 CBS Radio stations around the world. Ross also did Game of the Week broadcasts for CBS Radio in the 1980s and '90s. His most famous national call is from the sixth and final game of the 1977 Series, during which Reggie Jackson smacked three home runs on three consecutive pitches. The capper:
- Jackson with four runs batted in - sends a fly ball to center field and deep! That's going to be way back and THAT'S going to be gone! Reggie Jackson has hit his third home run of the game!
Real Sports Heroes with Ross Porter
Ross Porter began a new venture called "Real Sports Heroes with Ross Porter in April 2007. Real Sports Heroes highlighted the positive side of athletics and the great things that some athletes are doing and have done to give something back to the community. Porter aired 90-second Real Sports Heroes vignettes on KLAC and KABC radio in Los Angeles. The vignettes and Porter's web site were sponsored by American Airlines.
Porter aired high school football games for the IBN Sports Network in 2011, and joined Fox Sports West in 2012 to announce prep football, basketball, and baseball contests.
In 2016, Porter became the announcer for the Cal State Northridge Matadors baseball team, and the home games can be heard online at GoMatadors.com. For the last four years, Ross has written a weekly column during baseball season for "Dodgers Dugout," a newsletter published by the Los Angeles Times. Titled "Ask Ross," fans from around the world pose baseball questions which he answers.