Keith Olbermann is once again involved with something at ESPN. Marisa Guthrie of The Hollywood Reporter writes that Olbermann is returning to ESPN to start the ESPN Radio 25th anniversary celebrations by anchoring a two-hour special on January 4. Here’s more on just what that will entail:
Olbermann—who partnered with Dan Patrick for a very popular SportsCenter anchor team on television—will kick off ESPN Radio’s 25th anniversary with a two-hour special Jan. 4 from 7 to 9 p.m. His guests will include Tony Bruno and Chuck Wilson. The anniversary special will re-air on ESPN Radio periodically throughout 2017.
Of course, this isn’t all that unexpected, as Olbermann’s parting with ESPN this last time when they opted not to renew his contract in July 2015 was much more civil, with no reports of “napalmed bridges” this time. While members of the ESPN brass reportedly wanted Olbermann to quit the “commentary” on his show (leaving what, exactly?), that decision seemed more about the Worldwide Leader’s general belt-tightening than any particular problems with Olbermann, and he’s been much less critical of Bristol since his departure than many ex-ESPNers. Thus, bringing him back for a one-off doesn’t seem all that out of the ordinary. Having Olbermann host an ESPN Radio special is a little more unusual, but he was part of ESPN Radio from 2005-07 as a co-host of one hour of The Dan Patrick Show, and he certainly knows his ESPN history. Involving the likes of Bruno and Wilson makes a lot of sense, too, as both were key parts of ESPN Radio over the years.
Will this lead to more involvement between Olbermann and ESPN? Not necessarily. Olbermann seems to be doing just fine as a video host for GQ, and that gives him free rein to talk politics in a way ESPN never did, while Bristol has been focusing much more on lesser-known, cheaper personalities in this era of belt-tightening. However, this move does show that the bridges between ESPN and Olbermann still seem to be standing at this point. If something that makes sense for both sides comes along at some point, he could perhaps be back in a bigger role. For now, it’s one night only, and one that should be an interesting listen.