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Originally published Wednesday, April 1, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Brock Huard to go from field to studio as talk-show host on new 710 ESPN Seattle

It was supposed to be funny. The story Brock Huard told to a small audience was meant to draw a big laugh. Except no one laughed. Well, that's not true...

Seattle Times staff reporter

It was supposed to be funny. The story Brock Huard told to a small audience was meant to draw a big laugh. Except no one laughed.

Well, that's not true. Huard laughed. He does that. He laughs at his own jokes, and this time he got a kick out of retelling a story from his glory days as a Washington Huskies quarterback when a reporter nearly ruined the surprise engagement to Molly, a former UW basketball player.

As the story goes, the details of their impending engagement made it into the newspaper, which angered a few of Huard's friends, particularly a Huskies assistant coach who sought bodily harm against the reporter for supposedly blowing the big surprise.

"You want to hear something funny?" Huard asked. "Molly was out of the country. Maybe that's how I knew it was OK to say all of that stuff. She never saw the story and never heard about it, so it was still a surprise. No harm, no foul."

Two co-workers were standing nearby. "Awww that's not funny," they said. Huard chuckled.

Admittedly, his sense of humor is a bit off kilter, but if his next venture as a midday-radio talk-show co-host is going to succeed, then Huard must master the fine art of storytelling.

Once his show debuts at 11 a.m. Monday on the re-formatted, all-sports programming 710 ESPN Seattle, he'll have four hours to fill. Huard won't be alone. Mike Salk, a veteran ESPN talk-show host, shares the billing.

Still this is Huard's town and ultimately the success or failure of his show falls on his squared shoulders.

"We'll measure the success of the show with the overall radio market," said Dave Pridemore, 710 ESPN Seattle vice president and general manager. "We're going to measure it against news talk on 710. We're going to measure it against KJR-AM and we're going to measure it against all the other radio stations that are here."

Pridemore is gambling on Huard, who has never co-hosted a show before, hoping Huard and Salk can emulate ESPN's widely popular "Mike and Mike in the Morning" that features former NFL player Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg.

Huard promises a family-friendly format that "won't cater to the lowest common denominator," which might have been a subtle jab at KJR-AM.

"You can't listen to sports analysis for four hours," he said sitting behind a microphone in a renovated studio that's home to his new show. "People have to be entertained and that for me is going to be really refreshing. I'll get to show a bit of my personality that you don't get a chance to expand upon within a broadcast or studio work.

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"If you're not laughing, then I'm not doing my job well."

Huard was never the class clown growing up in Puyallup and he didn't dream of becoming a broadcaster, which makes this career decision a bit odd for someone who majored in psychology at UW.

He studied math and science and lived to play football, and was considered the brightest prospect among a trio of quarterbacking brothers. He followed his brother, Damon, to Washington and starred for the Huskies from 1996 to 1998 before injuries cut short an NFL career that included stops with the Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts.

That's when his flirtation with broadcasting began. Huard co-hosted a postgame Seahawks show on Northwest Cable with Paul Silvi in 2004. He said he earned about $200 per show.

"You have to start over. You do," said Huard, 33. "That's the hardest thing that guys can't do. And that's why guys struggle. And that's why you see depression and that's why you see a lot of things. They can't start over. Fortunately for me, six years in the NFL, that never became my identity and that helps in the transition."

His first year out of football he worked as a sideline reporter for FSN before moving to Bristol, Conn., the following year, where he joined ESPN as a college-football analyst.

Once 710 KIRO announced the format switch in November, Huard had preliminary talks with 710 ESPN vice president Pridemore before agreeing on a two-year deal.

Huard will continue working as a college-football analyst for ESPN in the fall, but his new job allows him to spend most of the year at home with Molly and their daughters Haley, 6, and Macey, 3.

"I never would have said to you, 'Boy, I want to be John Madden someday,' " he said. "But now that I'm in it, it fits my nature and my personality really well. If football hadn't worked, I would have been a doctor. I absolutely would have been a doctor.

"When football worked and I got to play professionally, it changed everything. This isn't where I thought I would be at 33, but I absolutely love it."

Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or pallen@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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