In case you really want to feel old, next month marks the 20th anniversary of the debut of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption. The show, hosted by Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, is still ticking right along, an island of calm in ESPN’s ever-changing weekday afternoon schedule.
On Thursday, ESPN announced a series of projects to commemorate PTI’s anniversary. The first is an hour-long TV special, airing on September 28th, and the second is a four-part ESPN Daily podcast series, which begins on October 2nd and rolls out each Saturday over the month.
Pablo Torre both narrates the special and hosts the podcast series. Here’s the breakdown of what the PTI special will cover, per ESPN’s release.
Segment/Podcast 1 – Kornheiser and Wilbon’s backgrounds, their years together at The Washington Post, and the creation of PTI;
Segment/Podcast 2 – PTI’s launch and early years, and Tony Reali’s “Stat Boy” role;
Segment/Podcast 3 – Behind the scenes, the emergence of Kornheiser and Wilbon’s personalities, and the show’s biggest topics;
Segment/Podcast 4 – Memorable guests, staying true to the show’s vision, and PTI’s legacy.
The special first airs at 7 PM ET on September 28th on ESPN. Those interviewed include JA Adande, Frank Isola, Peter King, Dan LeBatard, Tony Reali, among many others.
While the success and longevity of PTI should be celebrated, its formula also opened the door for numerous clones and attempts to re-capture that magic by ESPN and other networks. In my opinion, that’s lowered the overall bar for discourse in sports media, and has helped usher in the hot take culture and embrace debate philosophy that exemplify most studio shows on the air today.