News spread Sunday of the passing of Joe Valerio – the influential producer of ESPN’s legendary Sunday morning series The Sports Reporters. He was 71.
Valerio, who had worked in ESPN’s programming department for a short time in the early days of ESPN, oversaw the majority of the production of The Sports Reporters’ 30-year run. The show aired every week from its debut in October 1988 through its final episode in May 2017.
As ESPN reporter Jeremy Schaap outlined in this tribute piece which aired on ESPN this morning, Valerio was known for his passion, sharp wit, and smarts. A groundbreaking program featuring newspaper columnists debating issues in sports, The Sports Reporters helped usher in a new genre of sports studio programming, while bolstering the profile of some of the most renowned sports personalities in the industry.
Long-time hosts included Jeremy’s father, Dick Schaap, and John Saunders. This post on Front Row from 2017, around the time of the final episode of The Sports Reporters, outlines the show’s impact and includes thoughts from and about Valerio.
Westport (Conn.) News: Interview with Joe Valerio
Here is our tribute to Joe Valerio, the longtime producer of The Sports Reporters, who has died at 71, from cancer. Joe leaves behind his wife of 42 years Debbie, their children Caroline, Brian and Courtney, and 5 grandchildren. @MikeLupica @MitchAlbom @WCRhoden @GlobeBobRyan pic.twitter.com/0bPzvkpmuU
— Jeremy Schaap (@JeremySchaap) May 16, 2021
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 16, 2021
I spent many Sundays at 5:45a in Bristol with Joe Valerio, who was always, always encouraging. The Sports Reporters was the first ESPN TV I ever did, back in 2012. And I remain eternally grateful. RIP. https://t.co/iSszdwWsSE
— Pablo S. Torre (@PabloTorre) May 16, 2021