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Memories and laughter mark Eric Eskola goodbye party

Eric Eskola spent some time over the weekend clearing out the mounds of paper from his office in the state Capitol basement but took a break Saturday night for a goodbye party thrown by friends and colleagues at the Hillcrest Golf Club in St. Paul.

Eskola, who is taking a buyout from WCCO-AM, has become the voice of government for radio listeners around the state. And people like his playful banter with Sid Hartman.

He’ll continue his anchor duties on TPT’s “Almanac,” working with his wife, Cathy Wurzer (who we now know is called “Z” by Eric.)

More than 100 journalists, state Capitol workers (no politicians allowed) and friends gathered for the Eric-fest, which included testimonials and a very funny skit about Eskola covering a press conference. Jim Ragsdale of the Pioneer Press played a pretty convincing Eskola — always asking the first question at any media event, and then pretty much deciding for everyone else when it would be over.

And they parodied Eskola’s much-bandied complaint that he’s “just one guy” covering the whole Capitol for ‘CCO, while the newspapers and public radio have teams of reporters doing the work. There was even a song: “Just One Guy,” sung to the tune of “Just One Look,” with guitar accompaniment by author Rick Shefchik.

Last week, a curator from the Minnesota Historical Society stopped by Eskola’s office, hoping to find some items of historical significance in the massive piles on and around the desk. I asked Eric more about that Saturday night.

“I was deflated,” he said. “I thought he’d be taking all kinds of things — and I wouldn’t have so much junk to clean out.

“But all he took was five buttons: campaign buttons for Rudy Perpich, Skip Humphrey, Jim Oberstar and Paul Wellstone, and a button for the Final Four in 1992.”

Scott Magnuson, director of the state Senate Information Office, offered to help Eskola with the weekend packing. It looked to be a big job.

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