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I Follow: Keith Olbermann

ESPN's Keith Olbermann (Lou Rocco / ESPN Images)
ESPN’s Keith Olbermann
(Lou Rocco/ESPN Images)

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.

Keith Olbermann returns to ESPN tonight with his new late-night show Olbermann. The show will generally be presented live from its Times Square studio in New York City at 11 p.m. ET, Monday-Friday on ESPN2. Olbermann will showcase his unique personality as he focuses on the day’s relevant sports topics. The show will feature a mix of perspective and commentary, interviews, contributors, panel discussions and highlights.

Twitter handle: @KeithOlbermann
Followers: 460,342 (as of 8/26/13)
Following: 586

When did you join Twitter and why?
Actually I signed up first in May 2008. I’ve never been a tech luddite (I had a VCR in 1978) but I have to admit I feared that somehow my email would be publicly accessible, so I never tweeted. Then in the spring of 2010 I got talked into it by my staff, and I even sent out my first tweet on the air under the tutelage of the noted social media guru (and “PC” in the “Mac and PC” commercials) John Hodgman. He said I would not only enjoy Twitter, but that I was made for Twitter. Given how often I’m on there I think he was right, although the next time I saw John a month later I charged at him screaming “Hodgman! What did you get me into?”

What do you hope fans gain from following you?
This sounds like #humblebrag but given the avalanche of information that falls on the average person each day, I’ve found Twitter to be a really clean way of letting people know what I’m going to be doing – on TV or the Internet or wherever – so they can get first access to it. It’s mutually beneficial self-promotion.

Plus, it’s fun to interact with viewers (and critics) and to say thank you, or to start fencing with them, as appropriate. In a sports context, even when I was only doing news, it was always the venue to send out photos from events or news I’d stumbled on in person or elsewhere on Twitter or the web. Also, I have an affinity for taking weather photos and a great place to take them from, and I really have never found another place to send out sunset shots.

Who is your favorite person to follow on Twitter?
There’s that core group of baseball information people upon whom I rely – [senior baseball writer for ESPN The Magazine] Buster Olney and [ESPN commentator] [Jon] Sciambi and such. And there are some very funny, very bizarre folks I really enjoy.

But honestly, the one whose tweets I most often retweet or even email to friends, come from the historian Michael Beschloss – whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with and who knows all the presidents backwards and forwards. Every day, he sends out the most extraordinary photographs and sidelights to moments in American history. I literally went past the Ansonia apartment building here in New York this afternoon – it’s been there about 114 years. What did Beschloss tweet tonight? A photo of the Ansonia and that same neighborhood – from 1907!

Is there something that comes to mind as one of your most memorable Twitter exchanges?
You mean besides meeting Paul McCartney because of Twitter? Not long after I started, I was followed by a great fellow named Brian Ray, who turned out to be the guitarist for McCartney on his tours, and eventually when they came to play in New York, Brian invited me to the show and to the after-party and I got to meet a man I’d been a fan of since I was five years old.

I’ve actually made real-life friends through Twitter, reconnected with old ones (like the actor Josh Charles, who more or less played me on “SportsNight” and wound up in the fantasy baseball league I’m commissioner of).

Maybe the most bizarre one occurred in a span of about two hours in 2011. I see on my timeline that the comedian and actor Eddie Izzard – who has about 3,000,000 followers – had tweeted one of my commentaries and I tweet him back to thank him and the next thing I know I’ve got a direct message from him with a phone number and the message “call me.” We chatted for about an hour and have stayed in touch.

5 Comments

  1. Keith is back! Watching him now. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Houston Astros owner. Worst person in the sports world. Way to go Keith!

  2. Hello,

    I’ve been inconsolable since Keith left Current and was disappointed Al Jazeera did not extend an invitation :-).

    I’m a serious fan and although not really into any flavor of sports, I’d probably watch Mr. Olberman brush his teeth!

    Will have to DVR the show (Stewart/Colbert, doncha’ know) but will doubtless find time to watch on delay.

    Best wishes and you won’t regret putting Keith back in harness.

  3. Keith Olbermann is great.
    He is so much more than a desk jockey . Enjoy him and I’m glad he’s back . Breaks up the twetal dees and weetle dumes that report on your sport center shows .

    Good hire ..

  4. If we go back to the way back machine, John Buck was having a spectacular season the first two months. The plan was that Travis d’Arnaud would take over in August or September. Trade rumors were that a number of teams were interested in Buck at that time and many individuals were pushing that he should be traded to get good prospects. Now for Byrd and Buck plus money it looks like the Mets are getting an A ball second baseman named Dilson Herrera who has been in the minors for three years now and is only at A ball. His batting average has gone down each year and his fielding percentage isn’t that good. He also doesn’t steal too many bases. How is he going to be an improvement over Daniel Murphy, Justin Turner, or Wilmer Flores? The Mets also have second basemen with better statistics and more developed in the minors such as T.J. Rivera, Daniel Muno, and L.J. Mazzilli.

    This sounds like a series of bad moves made by the Mets GM Sandy Alderson, or moves forced on him by the owner Fred Wilpon. There is something very wrong here.

  5. Thank the good Lord that Olbermann has returned from exile. Real depth of knowledge is now more common among the ESPN talking heads than in the past. That said, it is his ability to move effortlessly between the comedy and tragedy of sport that has been sorely lacking since he and Dan split up many moons ago. I hope that the venom that he somehow elicits from many of the ESPNation will dry up after a while. Whether you like him or not, his input holds just as much value as any of the washed up jocks that man most other shows – and is more entertaining. So open your minds, set your DVR and allow Keith to entertain you while filling your skull with insight – and allow a chuckle or two. It’s worth the investment…

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