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Boyd Christenson remembered

Praise of Boyd Christenson's professionalism, generosity and humor could be heard across the region on radio and TV and read online Tuesday. A fixture in broadcasting and public speaking in North Dakota for nearly half a century, Christenson died...

Boyd Christenson
Boyd Christenson

Praise of Boyd Christenson's professionalism, generosity and humor could be heard across the region on radio and TV and read online Tuesday.

A fixture in broadcasting and public speaking in North Dakota for nearly half a century, Christenson died Tuesday morning in Fargo at age 73. He had been living with Alzheimer's for several years.

A native of Rugby, N.D., Christenson began his broadcast journalism career at KCJB radio in Minot. He was a broadcaster and manager at KCND-TV in Pembina, N.D., for four years and worked at KNOX radio in Grand Forks before moving to Fargo in 1964, where he joined WDAY-TV and radio.

Christenson co-hosted TV's "Party Line." He was the radio "voice of the Bison" for North Dakota State University from 1964 to 1978.

He left WDAY in the late 1970s and became public affairs director for Prairie Public Television, where he also did play-by-play for UND home hockey games.

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Pat Sweeney, sports director at WDAZ and play-by-play announcer for the Fighting Sioux Sports Network, recalled Christenson's unusual style of calling a goal.

"Archibald ... a shot -- he's GOT it!"

Christenson was named North Dakota Sportscaster of the Year three times. He also was inducted into the North Dakota Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame in 1990.

After about eight years at PPTV, Christenson finished his years behind the microphone hosting shows on WDAY and KFGO radio.

A gift with conversation

Christenson also was the first sports anchor for WDAZ-TV in Grand Forks. When the station first went on the air in January 1967, all local news, weather and sports came out of WDAY-TV in Fargo.

Sweeney said it was while he was working in Williston, N.D., in 1980 that he first saw Christenson.

"It was a Sunday night, and the station picked up a KX program called 'Eyewitness Weekend,' " Sweeney said. "They showed a speech Christenson was giving in Minot, and Boyd started with 'I'm the public affairs director at Prairie Public Television. That means if you're having an affair and you want to make it public, I'm the guy you talk to.' "

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"He was one of those people you could put in any job, and he'd do it and do it well," said Terry Dullum, WDAZ anchor. "He had such a gift for conversation. He was a good storyteller."

Jack French preceded Christenson and Sweeney for UND hockey play-by-play. Sweeney recalled sitting at the same table as Christenson after French's funeral several years ago, and said Boyd the storyteller was on a roll.

"I wish I'd had a tape recorder," Sweeney said. "Boyd was telling so many stories, and I was laughing so hard, I'd never had so much fun at a funeral in my life."

Christenson loved to tell of the time "Party Line" booked both a concert choir and a visitor from the local humane society. The dog walked onto the wide shot during the choir's performance and left a pungent memento.

"I can still hear the booth director screaming," Christenson would laugh: "Zoom in! Zoom in!"

Al Aamodt, former WDAY news director who knew Christenson for more than 35 years, said Boyd's humor came naturally and that he "stuck his heart and soul" into his work.

"Boyd was a humanitarian too," Aamodt said. "He cared deeply about people and people loved him. He was funny, he was personable. ... You just don't meet that many people who leave that impression."

Former UND hockey forward and current assistant coach Cary Eades also worked with Christenson in the broadcast booth.

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"He was very well prepared and had a quick wit," Eades said. "He had a zest for life, a zest for people. He kind of saw a lighter side of hockey."

Herald Publisher and Editor Mike Jacobs worked with Christenson at Prairie Public.

"He was one of the funniest people I've ever known and one of the best informed," Jacobs said. "He was a man of extraordinarily good humor and extraordinarily good heart."

Rob Horken, station manager at WDAZ, remembered a quote Christenson made during a speech at Sacred Heart School.

"People say they give until it hurts; I say give until it feels good."

Funeral arrangements

Boulger Funeral Home in Fargo is in charge of arrangements.

Visitation will be from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday at Church of the Nativity in Fargo, with a prayer service beginning at 5:30.

The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, with visitation starting at 9 a.m., also at Church of the Nativity.

Fargo Forum reporter Dave Olson contributed to this article. Reach Johnson at (701) 780-1262; (800) 477-6572, ext. 262; or send e-mail to jjohnson2@gfherald.com .

Related Topics: RADIOTELEVISION
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