With baby on the way, Tony Reali expands role in Disney family

Tony Reali (Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images)

Tony Reali (Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images)

ESPN announced a new multi-year extension this week for Tony Reali, the longtime host of Around the Horn and contributor on Pardon the Interruption.

After living and working in Washington, D.C. for more than a decade, Reali is moving to New York later this year. He will begin hosting ATH from a Times Square studio and join ABC’s Good Morning America as a social media contributor.

Both professionally and personally it’s an exciting move for the Staten Island, N.Y. native, who attended Fordham University and still has lots of family and friends in the area.

Reali spoke with Front Row about the move, what he’s looking forward to most and what he will miss about working in the ESPN offices in Washington where ATH, PTI and Highly Questionable are all produced.

You have been the host of ATH for 10 years and will continue in that role. What about the show are you most proud?
The show is a lot of things to me: fast, smart, funny, fun, engaging, mysteriously scored(!). If you asked everyone on the show they’d essentially describe it the same way, and I don’t think there’s a better thing you can say about a TV show.

Recently we’ve been making the show accessible to viewers in a different way on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. The ‘Before the Horns’ and ‘After the Horns’ and tributes videos and companion pieces we’ve put out – while the show is on its 23 1/2 hour break – is some of the stuff of which I’m the proudest. You can find a Bomani Jones dissertation on paying college athletes on there right next to Bob Ryan rapping the Beastie Boys and Pablo Torre telling me pterodactyls weren’t dinosaurs, thusly deconstructing my youth. Viewers will send notes saying they like ‘Before the Horn’ as much as ‘Around the Horn’. I can’t think of a better compliment.

What are you most excited about with your new contributor role on Good Morning America?
I’m thrilled to be part of the GMA family. I hope to be additive to that extraordinary group that continues to be smart, fast and in-touch with their viewership – more so than just about any other program. They do it all so exceptionally well.

You recently hosted ATH from New York. How was that experience, knowing you will soon be doing that on a regular basis?
In D.C. we have a wonderful iconic studio, Ted Koppel’s old ‘Nightline’ studio. In New York, I’ll have an equally awesome space overlooking Times Square. If you can’t get excited filming a show there, you don’t have a pulse! For me, the shows we did out of New York last month were just like the shows we do every day out of D.C.

You are a native New Yorker. Talk about returning home to the area where you grew up and went to college.
On a personal level, going home was important for us as our home is expanding. Sami and I are expecting a baby! So being near mom and dad and my brothers and sisters and Sunday dinners at grandma’s is a wonderful thing.

The Around the Horn/PTI crew in Washington is very close knit. What will you miss most about working side-by-side in the same offices with them every day?
That’s an impossible question to answer because the answer is everything. Not even sure I can put this into words right now. The shows – and everybody who works on them – mean so much to me. And those people mean everything to the shows. There’s not a person who visits our D.C. office for PTI/ATH/Highly Questionable and doesn’t walk away thinking ‘I get it. This is why these shows work. This is why these shows are different.’

The place is a creative vortex. As created by [Executive Producer] Erik Rydholm, [PTI Producer] Matt Kelliher, [ATH producer] Aaron Solomon – and of course [co-hosts] (Michael) Wilbon and (Tony) Kornheiser – it’s an incubator that made everything possible for me. I know, in my heart, that the office will never leave me and that PTI will never leave me. (And for every office I work in going forward I will steal, steal, STEAL! everything Tony and Mike and everyone else has taught me.) They are my champions and mentors and continue to be.

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  • Derek Warner

    best dude at ESPN, been watching him for years both on PTI and ATH as well as on youtube, congrats man Tony Reali

    • Brent Regis

      Agreed. Reali is the man