Mitch Albom Was "Phony Sweet" And Other Highlights Of PTI's Accidentally Released Behind-The-Scenes Audio

ESPN helpfully publishes an audio podcast of its popular Pardon The Interruption program daily for viewers who can't find their way to a television at 5:30 p.m. Eastern. Yesterday, though, we received numerous emails alerting us to the bizarre nature of yesterday's podcast. For one, it was more than three and a half hours long instead of the usual 22 minutes; for another, it started with audio of a man talking about brining turkeys and continued with sometimes inaudible, bizarre chatter. (Nine minutes of an Al-Jazeera broadcast and an advertisement for computer security also make an appearance.)

For reasons we're still trying to figure out, that chatter is from the Washington, D.C. studio where ESPN tapes Around The Horn and broadcasts PTI. It allows the listener not only to eavesdrop on what hosts Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon talk about during commercial breaks, but to observe how the production of the program comes together—from debating which side of an argument each co-host will take, to the clever editing of pre-taped interview segments (in this case, with Peter King) to excise anything ESPN doesn't want on-air. At one point, Wilbon drops a "goddamn" and "bullshit."

As of this writing, the full audio file is still in its place and pretending to be the podcast of yesterday's episode. But to save you the hassle of listening to a very, very long audio file, we've broken it down into its best, and occasionally profane or suggestive, moments. Listening to the whole recording is somewhat like those bootlegged tapes from the Beatles' Get Back sessions: long periods of silence punctuated by people saying things that may or may not be interesting. Here's the interesting stuff.

0:00:00-0:13:49: This is audio from The Chew, an ABC cooking show. It's followed by a lot of creepy noises and footsteps that sound like one of those CDs you play outside your house to scare trick-or-treaters.

0:36:00: A female (producer?) remarks on Mitch Albom's having appeared on the network earlier in the day, and calls him "phony sweet."

0:41:33: Kornheiser discusses his upcoming trip to Florida, and complains about the hotel rates at The Breakers.

0:42:30: Peter King and Kornheiser discuss the latter's recent knee surgery.

0:52:50: In the pre-taped "Five Good Minutes" segment, Peter King discusses Jon Gruden's future and remarks that ESPN would be unhappy if he were to leave, having just kicked Ron Jaworski out of the booth. This was edited out of the broadcast on television.

0:55:17: Wilbon rants about how "goddamn offensive players" aren't held responsible during helmet-to-helmet hits for lowering their head, and asks, "What kind of bullshit is that?"

1:09:00: Tony Kornheiser discusses his drinking preferences, and states, "You can drink the cheap stuff so long as you drink the good stuff first."

1:24:45: Tony Reali praises Wilbon's performance during a soccer discussion, to which Wilbon responds, "Soccer blows."

1:34:25: Kornheiser elaborates on hot actresses and plastic surgery, specifically Marlo Thomas.

1:46:30: Reali names some actresses he'd like to see on pay cable, i.e., naked.

There's about 50 minutes of silence after that, followed by nine minutes of Al-Jazeera. After that, 40 more minutes of silence before the Carbonite ad that closes the program.

Less provocative, but interesting, moments include Kornheiser discussing which side he'd take during the Ed Reed debate (revealing the not-so-shocking news that the show's hosts aren't always speaking their actual opinions on the program) and Reali recording what sounds like a patch-in edit for Around The Horn to address the news that Reed's suspension had been lifted—news that arrived after the show was taped, but before it aired. ESPN's been airing its sausage production inadvertently a lot lately, but we can't figure out for the life of us how this file came to be yesterday's podcast episode. If you know anything, drop us a line.