The hosts of the Pardon the Interruption, the original ESPN debate show, Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, have signed new multiyear extensions that will keep them on PTI for years to come. The signings of Mr. Tony and Wilbon come as PTI celebrates its 15th birthday as it premiered on October 17, 2001. And through the years, PTI has been ESPN’s most popular studio show.
The show has led to many imitators on other networks and even on ESPN. While you can argue that the debate genre has grown to the point of oversaturation, there’s no doubt of the impact that PTI has had on sports television in the 21st Century.
Kornheiser and Wilbon have become celebrities in their own right as a result of the show’s popularity. When the show began, both were writing for the Washington Post. They both have left the paper since and have parlayed their success to other ventures. Wilbon now works full-time for ESPN. Kornheiser has hosted his own radio show and it’s led to a podcast plus there was his two-year stint on Monday Night Football in the 2006 and 2007 seasons.
PTI’s impact has transcended into pop culture as well. The show appeared in the movie “Mr. 3000.”
It’s also been mocked on South Park, been on various EA Sports video games and you may even remember the CBS sitcom “Listen Up” that starred Jason Alexander and was based on Kornheiser’s WaPo columnss and PTI appearances. Malcolm-Jamal Warner played the Wilbon role.
PTI is well into its second decade and as long as Kornheiser and Wilbon are on the show, it’ll be around for many more years to come.