Wiemann died unexpectedly from natural causes on Aug. 4
PASO ROBLES — The Bearcat community unexpectedly lost Jim Wiemann on Thursday, Aug. 4, at the age of 56, leaving a hole in the Paso Robles sports community, where he was the go-to sports announcer and broadcaster.
He was a sports encyclopedia and a “cheesehead.” But most of all, James (Jimmy to most and Mo by family) Wiemann was known as the “Voice of Paso.”
Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Wiemann was raised in the rural farming town of Bonduel, where his parents owned and operated Wiemann’s Bakery. But by the time Wiemann was 11 years old, the family made a big move to none other than Paso Robles.
However, the first decade of his life in Wisconsin made him a lifelong Green Bay Packer “Cheesehead” and “Packer Backer.”
In his school years, it was clear to Wiemann’s mother Annie that he was not going to be her straight-A student. Instead, he shined and excelled in the world of sports. He saved his allowance money from working in the bakery to buy baseball cards. And this was the beginning of the brain that would later know every player’s stat, game plays, game predictions, and everything in between. Wiemann could recite game plays and stats from nearly every sport out there from almost any decade — thus, his reputation as the sports encyclopedia.
In 1980, Wiemann’s parents opened Wiemann’s Bakery in Paso Robles and a new chapter in Wiemann’s life began — he became a Paso Robles Bearcat.
As a Bearcat, Wiemann played on every sports team he could, but basketball was his be-all and end-all. Family and friends will all say that he was happiest on the court or out on the field.
Wiemann lived and breathed sports, and he took that impeccable knowledge to the radio waves. Fresh out of high school, Wiemann joined the local radio station KPRL and began broadcasting live sports commentaries for local games for the schools and even adult teams in the area.
Wiemann’s friend Walt Van Zandt was one of the three amigos — Van Zendt, Wiemann, and John Doss.
Van Zandt remembers one of the lessons he learned most from Wiemann: “He would say, ‘if you want it bad enough, anything is possible.’ He would say that to the athletes.”
Following his work at KPRL, Wiemann worked closely with Paso Robles City Mayor Steve Martin, and together, their sports segments grew into its own.
“I worked many years ago with Wiemann at our local radio station,” Mayor Martin said. “More recently, he was a primary voice on my Internet radio station, VoiceOfPaso.com, as one of the announcers for Bearcat sports broadcasts. He was an enthusiastic supporter of local sports and worked diligently on the maintenance of the ball fields at Barney Schwartz Park. He will be missed.”
The commentary segment was just the beginning of what would later be known as “The Voice of Paso” (VOP) in 2017, and is now known as “805 Broadcasters.”
Through VOP, Wiemann brought together coaches, student-athletes, and enthusiasts together over the airways as he announced play-by-play for the Bearcats’ games. The VOP team started traveling to away games and even covering some of the other schools in the area.
But no matter where or what he was covering, Wiemann’s announcing was known for “drawing the picture” of the game for listeners. Even more so, he was known for his interviews with coaches and the athletes after the game.
Eventually, the “Bearcat Locker Room” was born, a one-on-one interview with the athletes, and everyone wanted to be a part of it.
Wiemann was known for his ability to make the interviewee comfortable, in turn allowing them to open up and pull valuable information from them. He had the student-athletes feel seen and acknowledged in a way that no one else had been able to before.
Friends of Wiemann’s thought his talent for broadcasting could have taken him to the big leagues — and he had the opportunity to. But Wiemann was happy at home, representing his fellow Bearcats and focusing on their talents.
“He missed his calling as being one of the truly great broadcasters,” said Van Zandt.
Wiemann was also an integral part of Barney Schwartz Park, where there is a plaque that has his name engraved on it. He was a great broadcaster and athlete himself.
“He made the day brighter,” said Van Zandt. “As far as broadcasting, once he turned that switch on … you were mesmerized listening to it. And on a personal basis, he was so likable. I don’t think he could have any enemies … he made people want to do better.”
Wiemann’s sister, Catherine Wiemann Meress, wants people to remember how many student-athletes Wiemann mentored over his 30-year career, the kids he coached, his incredible talent for broadcasting, and the good man he was to all he came across.