Where in the world is Bob Wischusen?
"The Voice of the Jets" is always on the go and even the top detectives would have a hard time tracking him down. On this day, Wischusen is attempting to get to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. His next assignment is a Big Ten clash on the hardwood between the Iowa Hawkeyes and Michigan Wolverines.
But bad weather has already forced two flight cancellations and the affable Wischusen's patience is being tested. It's 11:45 a.m. at Newark Liberty Airport and he's now on schedule for a 4 p.m. flight to Minneapolis before hopefully an early evening connector to Cedar Rapids.
"This is actually a very appropriate day for us to be talking about this since everyone thinks I have this glamorous job," he says while shuffling through the airport. "I've got a travel odyssey to Cedar Rapids, Iowa."
While most would be cursing up a storm by this point, Wischusen laughs and accepts his fate. In addition to handling the radio play-by-play of each Jets game, Wischusen has become a regular on ESPN and refers to himself as an independent contractor. He estimates that he'll work 50 events for the station over the calendar year.
"It's definitely in the low 30s for college basketball. I did about 10 college football games in the fall and I'm going to do some Arena games for them in the summer," he said.
Wischusen frequently has been paired with Doug Gottlieb during the hoops season, but he'll also work with five or six other analysts.
"I'm a tee-you-up guy," he says. "If you have some things that you specifically want to talk about — and I say this to Marty Lyons all the time — let me know and I'll get you there. Some of it is go with the flow. Certainly I'm much better with Doug Gottleib right now than I was, say, a month, six weeks ago when we first worked together. We've worked a dozen games together."
For the most part, Wischusen's ESPN schedule is laid out well in advance, but there is always the possibility of a late addition. Let's just say it's ambitious if you look at what's on the horizon: Michigan at Iowa (Thursday), Oklahoma State at Texas A&M (Saturday), UNC Greensboro at Davidson (Feb. 19), Michigan at Minnesota (Feb. 21), VCU at Akron (Feb. 23), Michigan State at Purdue (Feb. 24) and Southern Illinois at Bradley (Feb. 26).
"I'm definitely used to the travel, but it doesn't mean it's not a tremendous pain at times," he said. "Nobody wants to hear me complain about my job, and I'm sure nobody wants Eric Mangini to complain about his job, and I'm sure nobody wants to hear you, working for a professional sports franchise, complain about your job. But everybody has some hassles that go with their job that are a pain and the number one issue for me is travel."
The trips can take a toll, especially when you have a loving wife, Julie, and three little ones — daughter Katrina (6) and sons Charlie (3) and Jimmy (1) — at home in New Jersey.
"Katrina was crying at the front door when I was leaving again today. She thinks of herself as 6½ and will turn 7 on July 1," he said. "My wife is clearly a saint to put up with that. But the payoff for me is I do have an off-season. Once college basketball ends and the end of March and early April arrives, it's slow. The only thing I really do over the summer is a handful of Arena Football games for ESPN."
While ESPN has first scheduling priority during the spring, Wischusen is also able to squeeze in 30 Madison Square Garden events — Knicks and Rangers combined — throughout the year. This is all from a kid who grew up in Scotch Plains, N.J., watching and listening to the likes of Marv Albert, Marty Glickman and Bob Murphy.
For six seasons, Wischusen and Lyons, a founding member of the Sack Exchange, have shared the Jets' radio booth at the Meadowlands.
"It's a dream come true to grow up in this area and be a voice of a professional team in it," he said. "That's kind of the standard answer, but the reason that the experience has been as great as it's been is because of all the people I've met that work with the team, more than anything else. You become so much more invested as to whether or not the team wins or loses based on the investment you know your friends have invested."
So how does the Jets' play-by-play man approach his job?
"In New York, you can't be an out-and-out homer because people don't want to hear that and New York fans don't like that. I'm never going to refer to the team as 'we' or 'us' because to me, 'we' or 'us' means we're catching passes or throwing passes and we're not," he said. "They are doing — they are the team.
"But at the same time, am I going to sound a little bit more excited when the Jets score a touchdown than when the Patriots score a touchdown? Absolutely."
When not calling games or spending time with the family, Wischusen might be found on the golf course or a sheet of ice. He's a six-handicap in the summer and a clumsy stay-at-home defenseman in the winter. The Voice of the Jets surely has enough on his plate to keep himself busy in the "off-season" and wouldn't mind remaining in the Jets' booth for a long, long time.
"Short of being like a top-level network play-by-play guy that would prohibit me from doing the Jets, I don't see any other job that I'd ever take," he said. "Twenty years from now, do I see myself in that booth calling the games? Jets games are a blast. Why would I not want the job? So yeah, absolutely."