1. Creating PTI
RCS: You are the creator and executive producer of PTI. Tony Kornheiser is on record saying, "[Michael] Wilbon and I are driving the car, but the car was built by our producer, Erik Rydholm. He's a genius. He came up with the whole gamut of what you see."
So genius, how did PTI begin?
Erik Rydholm: Mark Shapiro [former Executive VP of Programming at ESPN] had the general concept. Jim Cohen [former VP for Programming and Production] was charged with executing it. I had worked for Jim year before. Jim asked me to think up something that "looked different than anything else on television" and would be "the best show on television." Sounded like fun.
Tony is far too kind, though. The only reason I agreed to do the show was because of them. They have been two of my sports writing heroes, and any success we've had is due to their knowledge, perspective, and chemistry.
RCS: Wilbon and Kornheiser are big personalities. How difficult is it to manage them?
ER: Remarkably easy. They know who they are and what they're supposed to do -- they're friends who are supposed to have a vigorous discussion about sports and its place in the world. And it just so happens they'd be doing this every day even if they weren't paid to do it on the air.
Mike is a gent, and Tony is crusty... but under that rough exterior, he's a softie. I was slightly terrified of him early on. But then I got sick and he started calling me at home to make sure I was okay. I knew then that I had broken through.