Published 10:40 pm Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Announcer does his job on horseback

By Cal Bryant

Special to the News-Herald


Perhaps the best way to “call” a sport is to be a part of the competition.

Matt McGee has experienced all the sport of rodeo has to offer and more.

Matt McGee prefers to announce rodeo events from horseback inside the ring.

Matt McGee prefers to announce rodeo events from horseback inside the ring.

McGee has broken both his ankles competing in rodeos. He has knee problems and rotator cuff issues.

“But that’s just part of it,” McGee says. His gruff voice definitely sounds how you’d expect a cowboy’s to sound during an interview with Matt Wake of “There’s injuries in every sport.”

McGee hangs his hat in Oak Ridge, Mo., though he is originally from Florence, Ala. He grew up in a rodeo family with a mother and father, who both competed in professional rodeo. He has a sister who competes in rodeo as well.

He competed as a tie-down roper at every level of rodeo, qualifying for the high school national finals all four years, the college national finals three years, and the IFR five times. He has also been to the PRCA Great Lakes Circuit finals on five occasions and made two trips to the Dodge National Circuit Finals in Pocatello, Idaho.

His wife, Mary, is originally from Bellville, Ill., and she also came up through rodeo from high school, college and the professional circuits. They travel about 48 weeks each year.

“We travel about 85,000 miles a year,” McGee noted. “We have big, 40-foot living-quarter horse trailers that we pull. They hold four horses and we have about 18-foot of living-quarter space.”

And how does he pass all that time on the road?

“We listen to a lot of satellite radio, and I spend a lot of my time, as everybody who knows me knows, on the telephone,” he laughed.

At 6 feet 2 inches and 225 pounds, McGee looks the part of a rodeo competitor, but he also enjoys another aspect of the sport, as he also serves as an event announcer.

His upcoming schedule has him serving as the announcer at the 18th annual Gates County Championship Rodeo on Friday and Saturday.

“I announce about 140 performances a year,” he said. “Not only do we entertain the crowd, but we give (the audience) the play-by-play of what’s going on. We tell them about the cowboys, what they’ve won in the past, where they’re at in the standings and tell them a little bit about each animal that they’re matched up against.”

And McGee chooses to perform this task not up in the announcer’s booth, but rather inside the ring while on horseback.

McGee’s skill with a microphone in his hand has led him to win the 2013 Mid States Rodeo Announcer of the Year Award. One year later he earned the Announcer of the Year Award from the International Pro Rodeo Association.