After 25 years of calling Lompoc High School football games, Gregg Ratcliff will no longer be behind the mic.
Ratcliff has spent most of his broadcast career calling Lompoc football games, along with other sports in the Lompoc Valley, for Tap TV, station KPEG in Lompoc. He retired after a long career as the Public, Education, Government (PEG) station manager in there.
“I just retired (April 30),” Ratcliff said earlier this month.
“I’ve been with (Tap TV) since its inception. That’s been long enough,” Ratcliff said of his decision to retire. “We began in Santa Maria in 2004 and moved to Lompoc in 2006.”
Ratcliff, 65, said, “My wife retired a couple of years ago and has been patiently sort of waiting in the wings for me to do the same so we can start doing some traveling.”
He has deep roots in Lompoc. “I’ve lived here since I was three,” said Ratcliff, who graduated from Lompoc High School in 1973.
The longtime voice of Tap TV said, “I would have retired a couple of years ago, but there was a project I wanted to see through.”
That project was an equipment upgrade for the station, and in August of 2020, Ratcliff got the satisfaction of seeing the upgrade, in the form of a $60,000 grant from the Lompoc City Council, come through on his watch.
“I’d been holding our original equipment together 24/7 with bailing wire and bubble gum, and that just wasn’t working anymore,” said Ratcliff.
He said giving up broadcasting Lompoc football games “has been the hardest thing,” about his decision to retire from Tap TV.
“Gosh, I’ve been sorting through memories the last couple of days, and it would be hard to pick the one that stands out the most,” Ratcliff said.
“I’ve got four (Lompoc championship football rings) here on my counter.”
Ratcliff said one particular memory that stands out “was when we went down to (Gardena) Serra and beat them 16-13 (for a CIF Southern Section championship) in 2002. No one thought we could do that.
“The winning touchdown was scored by a certain quarterback named Andrew Jones.”
Jones is the current highly successful veteran Lompoc football coach. The Braves finished a 5-0 run last month to claim the Channel League title.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CIF has mandated shortened seasons and no playoffs for 2020-21 school year sports.
Ratcliff called the 2010 Lompoc sectional championship football game at venerable Huyck Stadium in Lompoc. A game-saving tackle inside the Lompoc 1 preserved the Braves’ win over Torrance South.
“There was such a pile, I couldn’t even see who made the tackle,” Ratcliff recalled.
The former longtime Tap TV station manager said another highlight was traveling to cover Vai Taua’s 2005 Cabrillo football team’s semifinal at Encino Crespi. Taua had a big game, but the Celts beat Taua’s Conquistadores 54-39 then defeated the Braves 24-14 for the sectional title.
Not all of Ratcliff’s broadcast memories were happy ones.
“We got pushed out of the broadcasting rights for the 2011 Lompoc-Cabrillo (sectional) championship game,” said Ratcliff.
“I had to watch Lompoc win 21-0 instead of covering it. That was hard.”
On balance, though, his broadcast memories of covering football plus a host of other sports have been pleasant. “I’ve covered around 400 games total,” he said.
The time finally came, Ratcliff believed, to leave the work force. “As my favorite uncle used to say, ‘I have enjoyed this as much as I care to,’” said Ratcliff.