KLYC signing off creates flood of sports memories

At 1 p.m. today, KLYC 1260 AM will cease broadcasting. With one flip of the switch, programs that have brought Yamhill Valley residents together for years will be gone and soon forgotten. For some, the closure will barely register, but for those of us who grew up with a radio next to our bed and in our living rooms, it’s a sad occurrence.

With the proliferation of television, the popularity of listening to sports on the radio slowly shrank. Nowadays, even your phone can display a game in full HD (check out CBS’ March Madness application if you don’t believe me), so why would you even want to listen to something when you can see it?

Then again, if you’re like me, radio personalities were the narrators of our youth. We all have our favorite radio play-by-play people. To this day, I can’t watch or listen to a Seattle Mariners baseball game without hearing Dave Niehaus’ voice.

In the Yamhill Valley, residents have been lucky enough to have a select number of sports broadcasted by KLYC. Coverage of high school sports isn’t exactly universal, so to have a station dedicated to bringing listeners the games from their local high school was something special.

Since 2000, Brian Ericksen and his friend and partner Jeff Ivie have been the voices listeners have heard most when they tuned in to hear how the McMinnville football team was doing. Now a journalism teacher at South Salem High School, Ericksen graduated from Linfield College in 1991 and spent the 1990s bouncing around radio and TV stations in Oregon. For a time Ericksen lived in Colorado, but he returned to the Willamette Valley and joined KLYC in 2000, working on the morning show.

Ericksen, a Salem native, has called football and basketball games for South Salem and West Albany and a host of other local schools. He said he has called more than 100 football games and close to the same in basketball. For KLYC, there was — of course — always a Yamhill County flavor, and Ericksen was there for some of the most memorable games of the past decade.

“I remember Dante Rosario back in 2002, leading Dayton to a state championship against Amity,” Ericksen said. “That was Yamhill County well represented. I still remember that game 11 years later.”

At McMinnville, there haven’t been a lot of playoff successes, but Ericksen called Mac’s upset win in 2005 in the first round of the state playoffs vs. Grant.

“I’ll never forget it,” he said.

But mostly, what Ericksen will remember are the interactions with coaches and players.

“When you got a mike in their face, and they wanted to talk about football or basketball,” Ericksen said. “You would see the glint in their eyes.”

When Dick Mason came in seven months ago to oversee the operations of KLYC with the intent to buy the station, Ericksen said he saw it as Mason coming in to save the station. Money had always been tight, but Mason brought some fresh perspective and new equipment, and he really tried to beef up KLYC’s sports coverage. KLYC hadn’t called basketball games since 2008, but there Ericksen and Mason were at many of Mac’s boys and girls games this season. They also called some soccer matches.

“He wanted my help to add more sports, and he really believed sports build a community,” Ericksen said.

“He had this whole plan to build the station around the community.”

Instead, Mason withdrew all of his equipment and decided to leave KLYC. He sent out an “Ultimate Update” to employees March 14, detailing the issues and his reasoning for leaving.

In the wake of the news, Ericksen doesn’t know what’s going to happen. All he knows is that he wants to keep broadcasting.

“I love it here. I live here,” he said. “I do want to keep it here. I would love to continue to do announce McMinnville and Newberg games.”

Live streaming over the internet could be an option, but for now, Ericksen is waiting for the dust to settle.

“I’ve called a football game on Friday nights since 1988. It’s been a while that I haven’t been in a press box on a Friday night.

“It would be weird if I wasn’t.”

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