MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota sports fans have lost a legendary radio voice and true fan of Golden Gopher sports.
Longtime WCCO-AM announcer Ray Christensen died at his Rosemount home the age of 92.
For 50 years, Christensen was the voice of Gopher basketball and football. He also did play-by-play for the Vikings and Twins.
Gov. Mark Dayton expressed his sympathy Monday, saying, “Christensen made the best wins sound sensational and the worst losses almost bearable.”
For generations of Minnesota sports fans, Christensen’s voice will forever be etched on memories of a football afternoon or a Williams Arena night.
Christensen was a WCCO radio fixture since 1963. But he got his start at the University of Minnesota’s KUOM in 1949.
“Ray was WCCO’s original designated hitter,” said Dave Mona, a longtime WCCO Radio personality who knew Christensen well.
Mona said he remembers Christensen as a broadcaster who did it all — from news and sports to classical music and even school closings.
But calling Gopher games was his love.
“On Saturday, he’d have the entire team, numbers, names pronunciations, which was most important to Ray, all in his mind before the start of the game, never referred to his notes calling a football game,” Mona said.
Many recall Christensen’s precise language and quick wit. Mona said that when Christensen left the armed forces (as a decorated soldier), he did classical music and learned to enunciate well before getting into sports.
In 1997, he’d call his last Gopher basketball game. In 2001, after 50 years of Gopher football, Christensen turned the mic over to Dave Lee.
“His humility was off the charts,” Lee said, adding: “His broadcasts were never about Ray. His broadcasts were about the Gophers, his pride and joy.”
After broadcasting sports, Christensen spent many years in his retirement recording audio books for the blind.