I Follow: Dari Nowkhah

Even on-set ESPNU's Dari Nowkhah is never too far from the Sooner State

Editor’s note: I Follow is all about ESPN employees on Twitter: what they tweet, whom they follow and how you can interact socially with anyone and everyone.

Twitter handle: @ESPNDari
Followers: 26,685
Following: 818
(As of 06/05/12)

Dari Nowkhah joined ESPN in 2004 as an ESPNEWS anchor and is currently the host of ESPNU. In addition to discussing everything college sports related year-round on ESPNU, Dari also co-hosts a weekly radio show with Mel Kiper Jr on Saturdays on ESPN Radio (8 a.m. to Noon ET).

A self-proclaimed “college sports junkie,” Nowkhah graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in broadcast journalism. Even from his perch behind the anchor desk in Charlotte, N.C., he has developed a strong following of Oklahoma faithful on Twitter where his passion for the Sooner State’s sports teams spans well beyond his alma mater’s football program.

Oklahoma has taken center stage in the sports world this week with the Sooners baseball team playing in the Super Regionals Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPNU, Oklahoma’s softball team fighting for the national title against Alabama in the deciding Women’s College World Series game tonight at 8 on ESPN, and the Oklahoma City Thunder seeking an NBA Finals berth with a home win tonight.

With all that Okie goodness, Front Row figured it was a good time to catch up with Dari.

When did you first start using Twitter and what was the draw to it?
Three years ago. I got on it just because I heard a few people talking about it. It wasn’t huge then. I joined thinking ‘Who in the world is going to care what I say?’ I never thought I would get any good feedback or get hooked on it, but it turns out I do and I am. A lot of people who watch ESPNU or listen to me on the radio interact with me on Twitter, which I think is pretty cool.

Do you feel that Twitter enhances your role as an ESPN anchor?
It doesn’t so much help me as an ESPNU anchor, but it does help me as a radio host. There will be things that come up — someone’s opinion, or a topic picking up steam — that I start to consider might be good radio fodder. It helps me see what has people buzzing, something that may or may not have actually had me buzzing. It gets me thinking about things whether they are topics or opinions that I hadn’t considered before.

Who are your favorite people to follow on Twitter?
I follow athletes, coaches and reporters – a lot of our reporters. I love it when people post links to articles. [Senior baseball writer for ESPN The Magazine and MLB analyst] Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) for instance, puts his links every morning on Twitter. Things like that help me keep up with the sports I love.

What’s the biggest impact Twitter has had on your life?
Twitter’s been a really good outlet for sharing my son Hayden’s story. A lot of people heard about Hayden while he was sick and not doing well. We got a lot of support for Hayden through Twitter. As his fight was going on I had people, every day saying they were praying for us, thinking about us. It’s one of those weird things that has allowed people to connect with me personally — people who have lost family members, lost kids or been through hard times have connected with me on Twitter with hashtags #HaydensHope or #NeverForgetHayden.

How often do you interact with fans on Twitter?
It depends. My biggest thing right now is the Thunder. I’m on Twitter every game during the playoffs. I’m a fanatic about them right now — more than anything else in sports. I think I’m the one national sportscaster from Oklahoma. I might be on-air for ESPN, but I’m a sports fan first. I have my teams and everybody else has their teams and I like going back and forth a little bit. I’m objective on the set, I’m objective on the air, but I’m a sports fan and Twitter is an outlet where I can be that.

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