ESPN to Celebrate 20 Years of Pardon The Interruption with One-Hour Documentary Special and Four-Part ESPN Daily Podcast Series

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ESPN to Celebrate 20 Years of Pardon The Interruption with One-Hour Documentary Special and Four-Part ESPN Daily Podcast Series

  • PTI20 premieres Tuesday, Sept. 28, at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN
  • First episode of ESPN Daily podcast series with Pablo Torre debuts Saturday, Oct. 2
  • Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon mark 20 years together on PTI on Oct. 22

PTI20 Trailer; Photos via ESPN Images

ESPN will celebrate 20 years of Pardon the Interruption with a one-hour PTI20 television special and a four-part ESPN Daily podcast highlighting the groundbreaking weekday sports debate and discussion show featuring co-hosts Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon. The documentary-style television special will premiere Tuesday, Sept. 28, at 7 p.m. ET, while the ESPN Daily podcast series hosted by Pablo Torre will debut a new episode each Saturday from Oct. 2-23.

PTI officially premiered as a regular series on October 22, 2001. Two decades and some 5,000 episodes later, co-hosts Kornheiser and Wilbon remain two of the most respected and influential voices in sports media. Their contentious but good-natured verbal sparring on PTI was born from the kinds of conversations they had for years in The Washington Post newsroom as sports columnists and colleagues.

PTI is the gold standard of sports discussion shows and one of the seminal programs in ESPN history,” said Norby Williamson, ESPN Executive Vice President, Event and Studio Production & Executive Editor. “Tony and Mike have shared a friendship for decades which has resulted in a remarkable television partnership – now 20 years strong, an incredible milestone that deserves to be celebrated.”

The television special and podcast series each offer a distinctive, in-depth exploration of PTI in four segments:

  • 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.

Torre, now a regular PTI guest host, narrates the television special and hosts the podcast series. He interviewed both Kornheiser and Wilbon for the project.

Other interview subjects include: JA Adande, David Aldridge, Frank Isola, Peter King, Dan LeBatard, Jackie MacMullan, Michele Tafoya and Steve Young; former Washington Post sports editor George Solomon; author James Andrew Miller; former ESPN production executive Jim Cohen; and veteran executive producer Erik Rydholm, coordinating producer Matt Kelliher, Reali and other members of the PTI staff.

The television special will have multiple re-airs across ESPN networks – including an encore presentation Tuesday, Sept. 28, at 9 p.m. on ESPN – and be available on demand. The ESPN Daily podcast series will be available wherever fans download podcasts and on ESPN.com.

ESPN’s award-winning E:60 production team is producing the PTI20 television special, including executive producer Andy Tennant, Michael Baltierra, Vin Cannamela, Heather Lombardo, Dan Lindberg, Jennifer Strauss, Blake Foeman, Frank Saraceno, Alex Eliasof and Ashley Williams.

The acclaimed ESPN Daily team is producing the four-part PTI20 audio podcast series, including senior editorial producer Eve Troeh, Mike Philbrick, Steve Martin, Julia Foust and Christian Gardner.

PTI Fun Facts and Notable Achievements:

  • PTI has won the Sports Emmy Award for Daily Outstanding Studio Show three times – 2009, 2016 and 2019.
  • Through the first two weeks of the 2021 NFL season, PTI is averaging 626,000 viewers, making it the most-viewed general sports studio show on television. Across the six episodes, more than 3.4 million people have tuned into an episode. During its 20-year run, PTI’s most-viewed episode attracted more than two million viewers on Nov. 8, 2010.
  • The innovative graphical rundown and topic bar that PTI introduced in 2001 has since been adopted by programs of all genres – sports, news, entertainment, weather, and more.
  • PTI’s fast-paced, wide-ranging and humorous discussion of the days’ sports news sparked an era of opinion-based sports shows, including ESPN’s popular Around the Horn, which debuted a year after PTI in 2002.
  • Popular PTI segments include Mail Time, Role Play, Odds Makers, Five Good Minutes and the end-of-show Errors and Omissions, which offers corrections and identifies on-air miscues.
  • In addition to PTI, a Kornheiser-Wilbon segment appears daily in the opening minutes of the 6 p.m. edition of SportsCenter. There is also a daily ESPN Audio podcast version of the show.
  • Beyond the daily weekday show, a pair of PTImeline specials – about LeBron James and Notre Dame Football – aired in 2012, chronicling PTI’s coverage of these singular topics through the years.
  • Beyond the U.S., PTI with Kornheiser and Wilbon is available to sports fans around the world via ESPN international channels in Australia/New Zealand, Canada (on TSN), the Caribbean, Netherlands and Sub-Saharan Africa; on the ESPN Player in Europe, the Middle East and Africa; and via a sub-license agreement in the UK.
  • PTI’s success led to a Spanish-language version of the show on ESPN Deportes called Cronometro, which debuted in 2004 and still airs today.
  • Reali, the popular host of ESPN’s Around the Horn since 2004, played the role of “Stat Boy” on PTI from 2001-14, serving as the end-of-show ombudsman.
  • PTI originates from Washington, D.C. – currently from the ABC News bureau (previously Atlantic Video studios). Produced by Rydholm Projects, Inc., PTI is overseen by executive producer Erik Rydholm and coordinating producer Matt Kelliher.
  • PTI has traveled for a handful of road shows throughout the years – to Monday Night Football games, Super Bowls and the 2018 MLB All-Star Game at Nationals Park in Washington. Kornheiser and Wilbon also hosted the show together at Northwestern University in 2018 before they called a basketball game between their alma maters to open NU’s Welsh-Ryan Arena.
  • PTI’s first Five Good Minutes guests were Charles Barkley and Brent Musburger.
  • Well-known fans of PTI include former president Barack Obama.
  • Kornheiser and Wilbon received the National Press Club’s most esteemed prize, the Fourth Estate Award, in 2017, recognizing journalists who have made significant contributions to the field. They have also both been inducted in the National Sports Media and DC Sports Halls of Fame. In 2021, Wilbon received the Basketball Hall of Fame’s prestigious Curt Gowdy Award.
  • Set décor has always been an important part of PTI. The studio is adorned with a variety of memorabilia items, toys, and its signature heads on sticks.
  • Some of PTI’s most popular shows are its holiday specials for Halloween – when the co-hosts annually wear costumes, and Thanksgiving – which features a full holiday meal in-studio.

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Bill Hofheimer

I oversee ESPN’s College Sports PR, while also working on ESPN soccer, Around the Horn, PTI and more. Previously oversaw communications for ESPN's Monday Night Football and NFL studio shows.
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