Bob was once told:
“…You don’t have what it takes to be on the air as a sports announcer, tv or radio.”
– 1987 job interview with former WFAN and ESPN executive
“These words would not become my reality. “I can’t” is never an option. I would be living proof.”
–Papa’s response to the interview
When the Bronx native was in New Jersey grade school he knew that a life behind the microphone was his calling.
In the pre-cable tv era, he was mesmerized by the excitement of Giants, Knicks and Rangers games on the radio. Yankees baseball was the soundtrack for long summertime car rides. Listening to voices like Marty Glickman, Jim Gordon, Marv Albert, The Scooter and other “paint the word picture” had him hooked.
Bob would sit in his home when games were on television and practice his play-by-play. He’d bring a recorder to games and practice in the stands. He’d call games while playing on the Dumont, NJ playgrounds. Heck, he did play-by-play of his parents cleaning the dinner dishes.
After graduating Bergen Catholic HS in 1982, he spent one year at the University of Delaware. It didn’t take long to realize that in order to be “heard” he needed to get back to New York City. In the fall of 1983 he transferred to Fordham University and immediately joined the famed WFUV campus radio station (which started careers for Hall of Famer Vin Scully and CBS’s Charles Osgood to name just a few).
Since Bob was a transfer he was a year behind in experience. He was determined, however, to gain speed quickly working countless hours at the station. This early dedication and drive eventually landed Bob the position as He would go on to host the famed ONE ON ONE, New York’s longest running sports telephone call-in show. He would also handle play-by-play for the football and basketball teams. At the start of his senior Bob was voted Sports Director by his fellow student.
While working at the station, and completing his business degree, Bob had his eye on the future. He took a job at the end of his sophomore year at SportsPhone in Manhattan. He was an announcer as well as a reporter. He took on the Yankees and Knicks beat, covering as many as 80 games a year. This led to developing contacts in the field that he knew he aspired to be a part of.
The networking paid off right away. Upon graduation Bob was took a job at WIBX in Utica, New York calling Utica Blue Sox baseball and hosting a sports show. After several months Bob went back to Sportsphone and continued to cultivate his contacts.
The fall of 1986 and the spring of 1987 was the springboard for it all.
Bob met the famed Marty Glickman that fall at Fordham’s Rose Hill gym. Marty asked Bob to send him a tape of his play-by-play. After about a week, Marty invited Bob to his home once a week to critique his work.
Following graduation from Fordham University in 1986, Bob immediately began building his resume. His job interview at WFAN in 1987 served as the motivation that still drives him today with a strong hold on a self promise to never take no for an answer.
After a brief stint in Utica, Bob worked his way to WNEW-AM, the longtime radio home of the Giants, Knicks and Rangers. He saw an opportunity right away, recognizing that sportstalk radio was the future. He created a Giants call-in postgame show in 1988 and has been a part of the broadcast team ever since.
In 1995 he became the fulltime play-by-play voice the New York Football Giants. He has called three Giants Super Bowls and is the voice behind some of the greatest calls in Giants and NFL history.
The WNEW connection led to Bob calling New Jersey Nets basketball, where he became the fulltime voice in 1996.
All the while he realized that television was part of his overall plan. Bob’s break came in 1989 when SportsChannel America hired him over more notable names, become the blow-by-blow of their weekly series. That would lead to calling the 1990 Evander Holyfield-Buster Douglas pay-per-view and a 25 year career in the sport with successful stops at ESPN, NBC and HBO. That opened the door to Bob’s Olympic career at NBC. In 1992 he handled the boxing from Barcelona and has been a part of every NBC Olympics since. SportsChannel America also selected Bob to be the studio host for their NHL playoff coverage starting in 1990. Bob held down the post for three years.
Those studio skills enabled Bob to handle pre and postgame coverage of the Yankees as well as Mets, Nets, Devils and Islanders coverage.
Through hardwork and dedication to his craft, Bob has continued to elevate his game. He has called Notre Dame football on NBC, handled the play-by-play for the NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football. He has called the Masters on WestwoodOne radio for more than a decade, is the lead host of Golf Channel’s NCAA and Champions Tour coverage. He has called 8 different Olympic sports for NBC and hosts a daily show on SiriusXM NFL Radio.
So what keep’s Bob Papa going today?
It’s passion to try and improve each and every broadcast. It’s about not yielding to “no”. It’s about never forgetting that 1987 WFAN interview.
Turning a negative into a positive forever.
- WFUV-FM Fordham University
- WOR 710 AM- Rambling with Gambling
- WFAN 660 AM
- SiriusXM NFL Radio
- WestwoodOne Sports
- SportsChannel America
- SportsChannel New York
- MSG Network
- YES Network
- Spike TV
- HBO Boxing
- NBC Sports
- NBC Olympics
- Golf Channel
- New York Football Giants
- New Jersey Nets
- New York Yankees
- Fordham University
- Seton Hall University
- Notre Dame Football