Born in Amityville, New York, Pagliarulo later lived in nearby Copiague, moved to Lake Worth, Florida at age seven, and graduated from Santaluces Community High School. By 1988, Pagliarulo became a store president with Domino's Pizza.
Pagliarulo began his radio career in 1989 in Palm Beach County, Florida, then worked primarily in television news, serving in many roles and eventually as the main anchor at WEYI-TV in Saginaw/Flint, Michigan (1994-1996), morning and noon anchor at WWMT in Kalamazoo/Grand Rapids, Michigan (1996-1997), main anchor, managing editor and eventually news director at WLAJ in Lansing/Jackson, Michigan (1997-2002) and main anchor at WRGB in Schenectady, New York (2002-2005). During and after his time at WRGB he also served as talk show host at WHAM in Rochester, New York and WXDX (now WDTW) in Detroit, Michigan.
In 2005, Pagliarulo returned to talk radio and began his daily talk show titled The Joe Pags Show that was first heard on iHeartMedia's flagship talk radio station WOAI 1200 in San Antonio as well as KPRC-Houston, KEX-Portland, KHOW-Denver, and KTLK-Minneapolis. After Andy Dean's departure from America Now in 2014, Pagliarulo's daily show was broadcast to the 130 America Now affiliates for almost a year until a full-time replacement host was selected. After the America Now fill-in period ended, Pagliarulo's show began syndication through Compass Media Networks, and is now heard on over 90 stations as of May 2017. His daily show is broadcast live from 6-9 PM EST and on tape delay in some of his syndicated markets. He also hosts a weekend nationally syndicated radio talk show through Premiere Networks, titled The Weekend with Joe Pags.
Pagliarulo has made many appearances on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC and previously served as a long-time frequent fill-in for Glenn Beck on Beck's television and radio programs. He has won multiple broadcasting awards from the Associated Press, and his show is listed in the top 25 of Talkers Magazine's "Heavy Hundred" and by Newsmax as one of the most influential talk shows in the country.
In May 2011, Pagliarulo underwent surgery for testicular cancer and has since reported a complete recovery.
Pagliarulo and his wife Jenny live in Texas with their four daughters, one of whom, Jia, was adopted from China.
On September 2, 2016, Pagliarulo reported on the air that his then-16-year-old daughter, Gabriella (aka "Gabby"), was missing since August 31. His request for help was spread across news and social media sites including Facebook and Twitter, and she was recovered unhurt the next day in Mexico accompanied by a 29-year-old male named Christopher Lee Fretwell, who was arrested on multiple charges. Fretwell was convicted and sentenced to 16 years in prison. Pagliarulo promised on-air to assist with other missing and exploited persons, and has since made regular updates with the assistance of missing person agencies.