Behind The ScenesStarting 5

Nichols teams with Post mentors Wilbon, Kornheiser on PTI

Rachel Nichols before hosting Outside the Lines. (Courtesy of Rachel Nichols Twitter)
Before tackling her PTI duties this week, Rachel Nichols anchored Outside the Lines for three days in Bristol.
(Photo courtesy of Rachel Nichols’ Twitter feed)

Rachel Nichols is showing off her versatility this week.

The veteran journalist and host of ESPN’s daily NBA show The Jump, will become the 35th guest co-host of Pardon the Interruption on Thursday and Friday, and in the process will reconnect with two long-time colleagues, Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon.

I was a college intern at The Washington Post when Tony and Mike were both columnists there, so we go way, way, way back! Then, when I returned to work full-time at The Post in my 20s, they both sort of just adopted me.
– Rachel Nichols

As Nichols explains below, the trio previously worked together at The Washington Post. She will join Kornheiser for Thursday’s show, and Wilbon – a fellow Northwestern graduate – for Friday’s show. PTI airs weekdays at 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Overall, it’s been a very busy week for Nichols, who also debuted as an Outside The Lines host Monday, anchoring the show from ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., headquarters the past three days.

Still, Nichols was able to spend a few minutes reflecting with Front Row on her connection to the popular PTI hosts, their Washington D.C. days and how she achieved versatility as a commentator.

What are you most looking forward to about guest-hosting PTI with Kornheiser and Wilbon?
I was a college intern at The Washington Post when Tony and Mike were both columnists there, so we go way, way, way back! Then, when I returned to work full-time at The Post in my 20s, they both sort of just adopted me. I’m not sure I could even do justice to what a tremendous influence they had on me – both as a person and a journalist. So getting to go back and work with them again, even just for a couple days, feels like going home in the best way, even though it’s on a show I’ve never been on before. It’s so generous for the producers of PTI to include me; I just hope I don’t break any of the bobbleheads on the set.

I would sit there in the cubes and try to write while they yelled back and forth to each other about whatever was going on that day – so when PTI was created, it honestly felt like I had already been listening to them do that show for years.
– Nichols on working with Kornheiser, Wilbon at
The Washington Post

What are some of your favorite memories working with Kornheiser and Wilbon during your D.C. days?
Tony and Mike used to work in offices that were across the hallway from each other, with a block of cubicles about four feet away from their doors. I would sit there in the cubes and try to write while they yelled back and forth to each other about whatever was going on that day – so when PTI was created, it honestly felt like I had already been listening to them do that show for years. Also, PTI got them out of the office for a few hours in the afternoons, so we all got some peace and quiet. Briefly.

In terms of your overall career approach, what have you done to achieve such versatility?
I wish it was some big clever grand plan – it hasn’t been. It’s just more about being curious about a lot of things, following where that curiosity goes and having been lucky enough to work for places that let me.

I love the NBA, and I get to talk about the NBA all day for a job now. I’m super-interested in the way sports have become the big tent where we have many of our national conversations in this country, and Outside the Lines and PTI are great canvases for that.

Like most of the rest of the world, I’m obsessed with “Game of Thrones,” and now Michelle Beadle, Ramona Shelburne and I do a weekly “GoT” (“Game of Thrones”) segment on ESPN Radio. So I feel very fortunate. Come to think of it, I may need to become obsessed with tropical islands next. The Jump: Tahiti has a nice ring to it.