New startup wants to take you on ‘Detour’ of Chicago

Detour-audio-walking-tour-appFrom the Saturday, Nov. 28, editions of The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Ill.) and The Times (Ottawa, Ill.) …


By Dave Wischnowsky

In the spirit of the best Thanksgiving movie ever made, there are no faster ways to cross the country than planes, no more scenic ways to see the country than trains, and no better ways to experience the country than automobiles.

But if you want to take in a city?

Well, there’s no better way to do that than by foot. And now a former Chicago tech guru is stepping up his digital game in an attempt to make urban walking tours a far richer experience for tourists than ever before.

When it comes to exploring cities on foot, my wife and I get a big kick out of it. In fact, every time we visit a new city or even return to an old familiar, we diligently conduct our research to identify its most fascinating neighborhoods, best historical haunts and most authentic establishments. Then, armed with our knowledge, we basically create our own walking tours – ones which have taken us to such fascinating locales such as a tiny bar along La Rambla in Barcelona that was Ernest Hemingway’s favorite, the cozy district of the French Quarter where New Orleans locals actually hang, and the hotel ballroom where Tony Bennett first sang “I Life My Heart in San Francisco” in San Francisco.

As cool as those experiences were, however, it’s fascinating to wonder how much fuller they could have been if that bar, district or ballroom could actually talk.

What stories would they tell?

Continue reading

Wisch List … on CLTV

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 9.50.53 AMIt’s not every day that you talk baseball, leadership and college football with Walter Payton’s son … on live television.

But Monday was one of those days when I joined host Jarrett Payton on CLTV Sports Feed to discuss Chicago Cubs phenom Kris Bryant unanimously winning the National League Rookie of the Year award, what the University of Illinois needs to do in order to right its football program and its athletic department at large, and what the current college football playoff landscape looks like.

To watch my segment with Jarrett, simply click here.

Can Illini football be fixed? You better believe it

IlliniFrom the Saturday, Nov. 14, editions of The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Ill.) and The Times (Ottawa, Ill.) …


By Dave Wischnowsky

You deserve better, Illini fans.

Now, after years of watching University of Illinois football teams get kicked all over the gridiron, turning your heart from orange-and-blue to black-and-blue, I understand that you might not think so. In fact, you might even believe that because the status quo in Champaign has been sorry for so long, that’s simply the way it’s supposed to be, and always will be.

But let me say this again, you deserve better.

And it’s time that everyone in Illinois starts believing it.

On Monday, Illinois fired athletic director Mike Thomas for basically being asleep at the wheel while his handpicked football coach Tim Beckman was allegedly running roughshod over his own injured players and NCAA medical protocols. Neither Thomas’ dismissal nor Beckman’s on Aug. 28 was the way a school wants to make national headlines, but both firings were much welcome and long overdue. And with a housecleaning now fully underway, Illinois finally has a chance to start fresh and emerge from what’s been a truly dark era at Memorial Stadium.

But in order to actually do so, people need to see the light.

Continue reading

In Chicago, Christmas can never come too soon

SantaFrom the Saturday, Nov. 7, editions of The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Ill.) and The Times (Ottawa, Ill.) …


By Dave Wischnowsky

When it comes to the pecking order of America’s holidays, I’ve long thought that Thanksgiving gets something of a short shrift.

Sure, we embrace Turkey Day and all its gravy-laden gluttony once it actually arrives. But it also seems that as soon as we settle into our sugar comas following a month (or more) of Halloween decorations, costumes and hype, our eyes also immediately turn toward Christmas, leaving Thanksgiving to desperately flap its wings for equal attention.

This month in Chicago, Thanksgiving certainly gets some love. But in the battle for November supremacy, it also has to duke it out with Christmas, which can never come too early – especially in the Windy City.

But whatever your seasonal tastes might be, Chicago is filled with plenty of holiday stuffing this month. And here’s how you can take part in the revelry.

A Christmas Carol
Nov. 14-Dec. 27

The Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future start their haunting early as Goodman Theatre on Nov. 14 stages Charles Dickens’ holiday classic “A Christmas Carol” for the 38th year.

If you’ve never seen the Goodman’s magical interpretation of Ebenezer Scrooge’s timeless tale of hope, redemption and “Bah Humbugs,” it’s worth it – for both you and the kids.

For more information, visit

Continue reading

Where to find ghosts – and spirits – in Chicago

From the Saturday, Oct. 31, editions of The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Ill.) and The Times (Ottawa, Ill.) …


 By Dave Wischnowsky

When it comes to nightspots in Chicago, the city sure has a lot of haunts.

I mean that literally.

From the North Side to the South Side and from the West Side to the lake, Chicago is filled with bars and restaurants that claim to have both spirits and ghosts on the menu. And in honor of Halloween, I thought I’d take you on twirl around town to let you know a few of the places where you can scare up a good time.

In more ways that one.

The Red Lion Pub
2446 N. Lincoln Ave.

This venerable Lincoln Park bar was shuttered for six years before finally reopening in early 2014, but that long closure didn’t scare away The Red Lion Pub’s most famous patrons: its ghosts.

Billed as one of the most haunted bars in Chicago, the building was built in 1882 is said to be lousy with the spirits of past patrons who have died either inside or nearby. Among them is the ghost of infamous Public Enemy No. 1 John Dillinger, who was shot and killed by federal agents in 1934 just across the street outside the Biograph Theater.

It’s also said that a scruffy cowboy haunts an upstairs dining room, and current co-owner Colin Cordwell claims that the ghost of former owner “Dirty Dan Danforth” once pushed him down the stairs, sending him to the hospital.

Continue reading

With 2015 over, Cubs look back to the future

CubsFrom the Saturday, Oct. 24, editions of The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Ill.) and The Times (Ottawa, Ill.) …

So, Marty McFly was wrong.

But so much about this Chicago Cubs season was so right.

When it began, I was just hoping to see the team post an above-.500 record. That’s it. So, never in my wildest dreams did I think we’d instead get to see 97 wins and watch the Cubs reach the National League Championship Series while vanquishing the St. Louis Cardinals along the way.

Sure, the postseason ended with a dud – and a Lucas Duda – against a shockingly dominant New York Mets team that I predict will now win the whole shebang. But the sweep in the NLCS hardly put a damper on this magical 2015 Cubs campaign, about which I have some thoughts.

So allow me to step up to the plate.

Feels like optimism

On Wednesday night after Game 4 ended with the Mets moshing on the mound, there wasn’t joy to be found in Wrigleyville. But unlike the Cubs’ NLCS losses in 1984, ’89 and ’03, there weren’t any tears, either.

This postseason loss just felt different – in a good way.

That’s because while those postseason runs that fell one round shy of the World Series came crumbling down in heaps of heartbreak and frustration, this one felt more like the start of something much bigger.

The Cubs, after all, couldn’t have traveled further ahead of expectations this season with a DeLorean and a Flux Capacitor. And with Theo Epstein and Joe Maddon holding the reins of a youthful roster brimming with talent, the future, I’m quite confident, is only beginning.

Continue reading

Waiting on a title, but Chicago no longer the ‘When-dy’ City

chicago-cubs-nlds-celebrateFrom the Saturday, October 17, editions of The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Ill.) and The Times (Ottawa, Ill.) …


By Dave Wischnowsky

I’ve been to a Rose Bowl. I’ve been to a Final Four. I’ve even been to Games 6 and 7 of a National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field.

But I’ve never before been to anything quite like Games 3 and 4 of the NLDS between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals, which at times this past week seemingly threatened to shake Wrigley into the lake.

Along with the rest of the North Side.

Against the Cards, the electricity generated by nine Cubs home runs could have lit the ballpark, even if it didn’t have lights. Around me in the bleachers, the crowd – often a distracted bunch – collectively hung on every pitch for all 18 innings and helped sing “Go Cubs Go” so loud it was heard a mile away. For my part, I yelled so much from right field that more than 48 hours later my voice was still listed as day-to-day.

Hopefully, it’s cleared to play again come Tuesday.

A huge reason why this NLDS was unlike any previous series that I’ve ever witnessed at Wrigley – including the epic games during the 2003 run – was because of the competition (beating the Cardinals still seems surreal), but also because of the sheer history of the moment.

Which, as it turns out, was even more historic than you thought.

Continue reading

The Cubs’ real ‘Curse’? It isn’t what you think

After the "Bartman" incident, the Chicago Cubs' sure-handed shortstop Alex Gonzalez made a crucial error in the 8th inning of the 2003 NLCS vs. the Florida Marlins.

Shortly after the “Steve Bartman incident,” the Chicago Cubs’ sure-handed shortstop Alex Gonzalez made a crucial error in the 8th inning of the 2003 NLCS vs. the Florida Marlins.

From the Saturday, Oct. 10, editions of The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Ill.) and The Times (Ottawa, Ill.) …

By Dave Wischnowsky


For fans of the Chicago Cubs, October has never been the kindest of months. The tricks usually start weeks before Halloween – and then we never end up getting any treats.

But might this October finally be different? Is it possible, as once foretold by that time-traveling oracle Marty McFly, that the Cubs’ elusive “Next Year” is actually here in 2015?

Great Scott, would that ever be something.

But as the Cubs now mix it up in the postseason with the St. Louis Cardinals for the first time in the two franchises’ 123-year rivalry, the biggest obstacle between Chicago and a World Series championship might not actually be the Redbirds. Or the Dodgers. Or the Mets. Or any team out of the American League.

Rather, it might be the “curse” of history.

Although, I also think that this very well may be just the Cubs team – and manager – finally capable of overcoming that.

Looking back, ever since I sat in the Wrigley Field upper deck watching the eighth inning tragically unfold in Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series, I’ve been convinced that, for the Cubs, a “curse” does truly exist.

Continue reading

Talking Cubs, Illini with Illini Drive

IlliniThere are few things more fun than talking Cubs playoff baseball and Illini football victories.

Neither happen very often.

Tonight, I got the chance to do both with the guys at Illini Drive on WPGU-107.1, which also happened to be my favorite campus music station when I was a student at Illinois.

To listen to the podcast of the show, you can click the link here.