Can you imagine the paycheck on a contract worth $6 million annually? Me neither. But that’s what Fox Sports will reportedly pay sports media personality Colin Cowherd to leave the Bristol-based Mothership. Ryan Glasspiegel of The Big Lead had the scoop confirming, “ESPN did make an aggressive bid to keep Cowherd, but was upstaged by Fox, who are clearly looking to make a big splash.” A big splash indeed, luring away the star of a nationally broadcasted radio show, which happens to also be simulcast on television. Rather than going after ESPN’s younger, lesser-known talent, Fox Sports reeled in a headliner. Obviously, not all jobs in sports pay this well but Fox Sports’ bold move is another sign that working in the sports media industry can be lucrative and is most certainly a thrill.
Colin Cowherd joined ESPN Radio in 2004, over a decade ago. But his pre-Bristol years tell the story of his ESPN present and Fox Sports future. Cowherd’s broadcasting career began as a play-by-play voice for the Las Vegas Stars, a minor league baseball team. He eventually landed a sports director gig at a Las Vegas television station, collecting several Nevada Sportscaster of the Year awards, before heading across the country to Florida. As a sports anchor for a Tampa television station Cowherd won another award, a local Sports Emmy for Buc Sunday. Clearly his persona, wit and talents were being recognized. In ‘96 Colin Cowherd once again headed across the country, this time for a radio show job on “The Fan” in Portland. He hosted The Herd in Portland for three-hours each morning while also moonlighting as a weeknight and Sunday sports anchor for a local news channel. He would call the Pacific Northwest home until the early 2000s when the big show finally came calling.
Colin Cowherd started his ESPN career with a West Coast only show. The term show isn’t exactly right since, at first, his exposure was limited to just a single hour. But his popularity, and exposure, would grow. Fast. The Herd with Colin Cowherd became a nationally syndicated radio program as well as a show simulcast on ESPNU and, later, ESPNews. Beyond hosting a very successful radio show Cowherd entertained us co-hosting SportsNation, anchoring Colin’s New Football Show as well as lending his unique voice and sharp personality to other ESPN programs. And so it went, for over a decade, at ESPN before Cowherd decided it was time for a change.
Fox Sports came knocking, hard enough to get his attention. The thought of more exposure, more control, more dollars and the chance to move to Los Angeles overrode the opportunity to stay within the comforts of ESPN. Cowherd, not one to play it safe on-air, made a bold decision. What happens next in the career of Colin Cowherd is anyone’s guess. He could crash-and-burn at Fox Sports though he’ll likely thrive. He may eventually move on, back to ESPN, over to NBC Sports or perhaps to a channel or medium we’ve not yet heard of. But know this, Colin Cowherd will always take on new challenges whether he’s based out of Los Angeles, New York, Miami, North Dakota, Hawaii or Alaska. Because that’s what it takes when you dream big. And you should never be afraid to dream big.
So what’s the point? Simply that dreams don’t just happen. You have to chase them down, sometimes across the country, to get what you want. Cowherd has traversed America—Washington, Nevada, Florida, Oregon, Connecticut, California—searching for just the right microphone. The bigger the dream the more you’ll sacrifice; acquiring money, power, fans and fame requires some compromises to personal time and stability. Do you want a job in sports media? Do you want your name in a byline, voice on the radio or face on television? Be willing to pack up and explore the nation. Accept that, in sports media, no one—not even Colin Cowherd—starts on top. Set big goals. Work hard to chase them down. It’s worth it! Editor Note: This blog was first published prior to Mr. Cowherds controversial departure from ESPN.