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ON YOUR MARKS: Get interrupted and watch PTI

By Adam Marks

Section: Arts

March 11, 2005

The best aspect of writing a column for a campus newspaper is that you know who is going to read it. My good friends will sit down and read an article with my picture near it. Professors involved in the journalism program will likely read the campus publications. My parents and close relatives will probably find themselves perusing The Hoots website to see what it is that I have to say. And of course the few people on campus who have an interest in sports may happen upon my column, bringing my total readership to nearly 25. It is those few people with an interest in sports that I am attempting to reach with the following column I feel that if they take my advice they will be doing themselves a large favor. Get interrupted.

Anyone who can bear to read my jibberish week to week must truly be interested in sports, and anyone who fits that description should be watching ESPN weekday evenings from 5:30-6:00. That time slot is filled by Pardon the Interruption (PTI), a talk-radio style program hosted by the Washington Posts Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon. The show consists of banter you would expect to hear on WEEI, combined with the humor which carried Kornheisers Style column, similar to Dave Barrys popular syndicated column, in the Post. The program is both interesting and entertaining, consistently earning the highest ratings of any show on the myriad of ESPNs stations.

This past spring break (only at Brandeis is February part of spring) I got the chance to go to Washington D.C. where the program is based to get a behind-the-scenes view of the creation, production, and taping of PTI. This experience was, for me, akin to someone meeting their idol. I spend thirty minutes every night with these two people, so getting the chance to truly spend an afternoon with celebrities whom I respect and admire was the opportunity of a lifetime and one that did not disappoint.

The greatest aspect of PTI is the way Kornheiser and Wilbon manage to disagree on nearly every topic they discuss. Now, since the show is based off their banter, this could easily be scripted in during the pre-taping meetings, but as someone who has now sat in on those meetings I can tell you that is not the case. Tony and Mike argue about everything. They argued about who was the best outside shooter in college basketball, they argued about the steroid scandal in baseball, they even argued about whether it had snowed in Philadelphia that afternoon. Mike asked Tony for the number of someone who could get him a reservation at a restaurant in New York City, a small request between friends, but it led to an argument about whether Mike carried enough clout to walk into that restaurant in New York City without reservations and get a table. The topics on Pardon the Interruption may be planned, but the debates that ensue are as far from scripted as imaginable.

Pardon the Interruption exemplifies the water cooler discourse that occurs in offices around the country. And while the show is dedicated to sports, they manage to insert many other topics in the course of the program. They talk about who should win Academy Awards, whether John Travolta wears a hair piece, and if tennis star Marat Safins girlfriend, referred to by Tony as the future Mrs. Tony Kornheiser, is one of the hottest females alive. The program could appeal to non-sports fans, such as my mother and girlfriend, but for people who truly love sports Pardon the Interruption deserves thirty minutes of your attention each day. If you fit that description, and happen to be around a television at 5:30 on weekdays, do yourself a favor, turn on your television to ESPN, and get interrupted. Youll thank me later.

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