On Tuesday, I got the chance to watch the taping of ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption,” featuring show co-host and Medill School of Journalism alum Michael Wilbon (BSJ ’80).
I saw the taping with Brian MacIver and Connor Morgan; we’re all in Washington this fall to finish up the Medill graduate program. The three of us and a priest who’s also a sports fan were the entire studio audience for this episode of the show, but that didn’t diminish our experience.
It was my first time seeing a taping and it was far more intimate than I expected. Our seats were on the set of “Around the Horn” as we watched Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser trade comparisons. A few steps away from us, a handful of crew and a producer rounded out the people in the studio.
For MacIver, who aims to cover sports and technology, the experience reminded him of home.
“I grew up watching PTI back in Canada,” he said. “It was surreal to watch Kornheiser pull out the Maple Leaf during the break and wave it at the end of the show.”
The taping lasted about 45 minutes and at the end Kornheiser invited the Medillians to come on the set. Later, Wilbon pulled us aside to talk sports a.
A lot of sports journalism, Wilbon said, is built on the relationships you form over the years. The sources who talk to you off the record to help them get comfortable with you and the patience and persistence you have to have as a journalist are what help a reporter establish himself.
“Reputation is everything,” Wilbon said. In the decades since he earned his BSJ, Wilbon has made a name for himself as one of the country’s top sports writers and commentators. Getting the chance to meet him and experience the taping was a special learning experience and moment of mentorship we were lucky to have.
“Meeting Mike was a dream for me,” said Morgan, whose goals include working as an anchor. “His prominence in the sports world was a driving influence for me to attend Medill so to meet him and to find out he was so humble and giving with his time just reinforced my belief that I made the right decision.”