After 35 years, Milwaukee Bucks TV broadcaster Jim Paschke is retiring. Paschke has called more than 2,000 Bucks games. His broadcasting career has lasted 48 years. He spoke with Gene Mueller for this week’s WTMJ’s Conversations.
A portion of the interview was transcribed by eCourt Reporters, Inc.
GENE MUELLER: What’s it like hearing all of these people say all of these nice and very well-deserved things about you now that you’re going to be retiring?
JIM PASCHKE: I have been humbled by it. It has been incredible, really, the number of people who have reached out is staggering to me. And I’m not a person who likes to be in the spotlight, I mean, it’s the other way around, I like to spotlight other people, that’s what I’ve done my whole career. So, it’s a little bit strange. It was time consuming at the beginning, I couldn’t get ready for games the way I normally do. I was trying to be kind and answer questions and tweets and thank yous and all of that. But, overall, it’s been just amazing and, you know, I didn’t expect it, to be quite honest with you, but it has been wonderful to touch base with so many people.
GENE MUELLER: Let me make sure I’ve got my math right here, too. Jim, you’ve got 48 years in the business, did you give any thought at all to maybe, just maybe, trying to hit an even 50 before you called it quits?
JIM PASCHKE: Oh, sure I did. I — I’m a numbers guy. I knew that this was 48, and the round numbers — they’re not really round numbers, but the math I did was I’m 70 years old and I have done the Bucks for 35 years, that’s half my life. And I figured that that was, you know, symmetric enough for me to appreciate, so that’s the one I went with. Fifty I could have done, you know, if I stretch it out. On the front end, I did some things, I could maybe get to 50 in my mind if I need to, but, you know, while I say I’m a numbers guy, it’s only in doing the math; it’s not in reaching those milestones by any means. It doesn’t matter, Gene, after a certain amount of time, a career is a career, and I think it holds up. If people need 50 to have it be something then maybe I’ll get a job somewhere and, you know, one day a week. We’ll see.
GENE MUELLER: You know, Jim, there’s people that don’t last 48 days in this business much less 48 years. When you got into this, was this end game for you, it’s like broadcasting or bust, this is what I want to do?
JIM PASCHKE: Well, I mean, essentially it was, because back then I wasn’t smart enough to realize that you probably should have a plan B. I don’t ever talk to broadcasting students, or anyone interested in this business today, without first saying you must have a plan B because you don’t know how your career is going to go. You don’t know how you’re going to adapt to working on holidays and weekends, and at times when your friends are having a good time, you’re behind a microphone, and I don’t know how you’re going to handle that. If it’s a passion, you’ll handle it just fine, but always have a plan B. And particularly when you’re in college, you know, learn other things so that you can fall back on them if this doesn’t work out. Because you’re right, 48 days sometimes is the length of a career. And, you know, you just have to prepare.
No, I didn’t think of doing it this long. When I did get the Bucks and Brewers’ jobs in 1986, I did say now my job is to last 20 years in at least one of them. So, I had that in my mind, but I didn’t have it as an expectation because you just can’t count on anything in terms of tenure in this business, things go wrong, teams are sold, broadcast management changes, people have friends, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
So, I’m really proud of the tenure, and most of all, Gene, I’m proud of being in one place as long as I have been because it stabilized my family a bit. My son was able to grow up in one house — he probably wanted me to buy two or three more, but he was in one city, let’s put it that way. He didn’t have to move around and change locations and schools and find new friends all the time. So, I’m pretty proud of that, being able to do that. And I didn’t do it by myself, of course. You have people that help you stay in a place and they protect you from the ups and downs in the business when those occur. But I never thought about doing it this long but I did think about doing it as long as I possibly could.