Here's all you need to know about how beloved sportscaster Dale McMillen was throughout Northern Kentucky: Facebook and sports blogs are filled with tributes to McMillen, who hadn't been on radio regularly for 25 years.
McMillen, of Villa Hills, died Sunday of complications from kidney disease. He was 74.
Services are 6 p.m. Friday, July 28, at Floral Hills Funeral Home in Taylor Mill, KY. Visitation is 4-6 p.m. Friday.
In the 1970s and 1980s, McMillen was the voice of Northern Kentucky high school basketball and football on old WHKK-FM (now The WIZ) and Covington's WCVG-AM (1320). He broadcast the first Northern Kentucky University basketball game in 1971, in the Newport High School gym, and served as NKU's sports information director.
McMillen also did University of Cincinnati and Xavier University basketball in the early 1980s on WLW-AM, including broadcasting UC's NCAA record seven overtime victory over Bradley 75-73 on Dec. 21, 1981. He also did the first live Kentucky Ninth Region high school basketball tournament on cable TV with producer-director Ron E. Lawson.
Lawson remembers the buzz when McMillen came to call a Bellevue High School Tigers football game in 1974, in his senior year.
"Dale was always about the kids, the players. He wanted to give them as much notoriety as he could," said Lawson, who produced sports for Storer Cable in Northern Kentucky in the 1980s and taped an unsold pilot for a TV show in 1989 with McMillen and Wes Wright called "Kentucky Sports Magazine."
Doug Kidd, who produced Bob Trumpy's "Sports Talk" on WLW-AM in the 1980s, said his radio debut was graciously arranged by McMillen.
"A million years ago, when I was trying to get into radio… he put me next to him as the color analyst. We sat in Covington Catholic High School's gym and when he introduced me on WHKK radio, Erlanger, Ky., to announce the lineups, I was hooked. He told me, off air, that I didn't need to say the numbers since no one could see the players. It was my first real lesson of theater of the mind," said Kidd, a tour player ambassador at TPC Sawgrass golf course in Ponte Verda Fla.
"For those of you that may have heard me announce anything," Kidd said, "you may have heard me occasionally say, 'Write It Down and Circle It.' That's how Dale told his listeners that someone had made a free throw, because that's how you recorded it on your score sheet. Simple, yet it stuck with me and I was proud to think of him every time I said it."
McMillen, who broadcast more than 4,000 games, was a member of the Northern Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame, according to his obituary.
He left broadcasting for a traveling sales job for a medical device company in the late 1980s. He remained active in youth sports by coaching girls softball with his son, Jeff. Their teams won three world championships.
"He coached and mentored countless athletes and remained in contact with nearly all of them up until the time of his death. He would tell you that coaching gave him more joy than anything else in his life, aside from his children and grandchildren," according to his obituary.
Doug Kidd put it this way: "He will leave behind thousands of young lives that he touched as a coach, mentor, and friend."