Ray Christensen dead at 92

Another radio pioneer has passed away.

WCCO’s Ray Christensen has died, the station reports.

He was the voice of the Gophers for generations.

“I think the two that stick out more than any other are the last second wins at Michigan in 1986 and the Penn State win at Happy Valley,” he told GopherHole.com in 2004, when asked about his most memorable broadcasts. “The Michigan win was incredible, as they were first or second in the nation at the time, and we absolutely shocked them. I have never heard 100,000+ fans so silent. Rickey Foggie’s run to set up Chip Lohmiller was so much fun to announce, and then Chip nailed the kick and the stadium sat silent. The Penn State win was such a big win for Coach Mason and the program. When Arland Bruce caught that lucky break, my blood pressure went through the roof, and then Dan Nystrom hit it through the uprights!”

Though he’d retired in 2001, Christensen returned to the radio to call a few plays when TCF Bank Stadium opened.

(Video link)

Christensen was inducted into Pavek Museum of Broadcasting Hall of Fame a year after retiring.

[Update 10:20 a.m.] Dave Mona sends along additional details:

Born in 1924, Christensen graduated from Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis and was an original member of that school’s Hall of Fame.

A 1949 graduate of the University of Minnesota, he served in the United States Army in World War II.

In addition to his broadcasting of Gopher games, Christensen also broadcast games for the Minneapolis Lakers, the Minnesota Twins and the Minnesota Vikings. In addition, Christensen hosted a daily music appreciation segment on WCCO Radio.

He was inducted into the Minnesota Broadcast Hall of Fame in 2002.

His 1993 book, Golden Memories, coauthored with Stew Thornley, covered all aspects of his life. His 2002 book, Gopher Tales, contained anecdotes on eleven different Gopher sports and was a regional best seller. He was an active community volunteer, spending thousands of hours recording books for the blind and reading to elementary school children in the community.

His broadcast career began at the University of Minnesota’s KUOM radio station followed by a stint as program and sports director at WLOL Minneapolis/St. Paul. He joined WCCO radio in 1963 and remained in full-time broadcasting until 1993.

In an interview after his retirement he recalled that he did not get paid for his first year of broadcasting Gopher football, but that he did receive $2.50 per meal for road games. After that first year his salary was increased to $25 per game.

Ray is survived by his wife, Ramona: son, Tom (Ann); daughter, Sue (Jim); son, Jim (Rose); grandchildren, Brian, Emily, David, Mary, Jonathan, and step-grandchild Christina.

Services are pending. Memorials can be sent to one of three locations: 1) Communication Center for the Blind, St. Paul, MN. 2) The Danish Center Genealogy Department, Elkhorn, Iowa. 3) CLA Scholarships at the University of Minnesota, Mpls. MN.