• Popular sports radio host can't wait to wow his new listeners

In the first half-hour, he discussed the Los Angeles Lakers, Pope John Paul II, seaweed, engaged guys having second thoughts as they're about to walk down the aisle, 'The Sopranos,' rock 'n' roll, the New York Yankees and, of course, himself.

In other words, the main change in Colin Cowherd is his studio.

His show, 'The Herd,' originated from Bristol, Conn., for the first time Monday as the former Portland sportscaster made his ESPN Radio debut.

'It's my real name,' Cowherd told a nation of sports-talk listeners. 'Believe me, if I was going to pick a stage name, that wouldn't be it. Actually, I've always wanted to be Sky Bannister.'

'The Herd' will air weekdays from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. on about 250 stations across the country. It can be heard on KFXX (1080 AM) from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. (Jim Rome airs at 9 a.m.), preceded by a special West Coast-only hour of Cowherd from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m.

He could hardly wait for his first show, though he asked for patience.

'Today was a fire drill. We were in a new studio and had about seven major technical issues,' he said after the debut. 'But nobody remembers Dan Patrick's first show. Judge us over 10 or 12. We'll work our tails off and do the same quality show as in Portland. The strength of our show will still be its energy.'

KFXX fans will miss his passion for college football recruiting, down to his takes on the top prep offensive tackles in Class 3A and who the Ducks and Beavers are courting to play sixth-string strong safety.

But they'll get the best of Cowherd, otherwise.

His first guest was Fran Fraschilla, a former college coach who is now an ESPN basketball analyst. He did his 'Spanning the Globe' interviews with media in five cities. He did everything but kiss babies and sell hot dogs. It was part Seinfeld standup, part Monday morning quarterbacking.

'He sounded great, very comfortable,' said KFXX talk-show host Ian Furness. 'It sounded like his show.'

Cowherd is replacing the well-known Tony Kornheiser, who is concentrating on other ESPN duties.

'You can't wait to hate me,' Cowherd said a few minutes after going on the air. 'I'm going to be a speed bag.'

Maybe, maybe not.

His first caller, from Raleigh, N.C., at 7:50 a.m., told Cowherd, 'You won me over with your position on football.'

Cowherd is continuing the 'Daily Football Fix' segment he used at KFXX, and the national audience should enjoy it as much as Portland did.

'Hey, Jay Leno succeeded Johnny Carson, and he's still employed and is getting great ratings, so it can be done,' Cowherd said.

'A lot of people warned me not to take this job, replacing Tony, but I wanted a challenge and I wanted to play in the bigs. I'll never regret making this move.'

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