Behind the Scenes of Redding Rodeo Featuring Wayne Brooks
Redding Rodeo 2022 is right around the corner and to get everyone excited about the upcoming event, I caught up with Redding rodeo announcer, Wayne Brooks. Having been in the industry for about 30 years, Wayne knows a thing or two about rodeo so I was excited to get his perspective not only on the Redding Rodeo but the ins and outs of being a rodeo announcer as well. Hope you enjoy and the CLN team can’t wait to see you in Redding!
Krysta: To get us started, can you tell me a little more about yourself and your background in rodeo?
Wayne: I was the best three-second bareback rider around but that doesn’t work very well in rodeo. I loved it but I was terrible at it, but I still wanted to try to stay around the industry somehow. So I started looking into the production side of things and ended up getting some great help from, at that time, the patriarchs of the business like Clem McSpadden, Hadley Barrett, and Phil Gardenhire. Those guys really helped give me a leg up and now today I work with Bob Tallman and Randy Corley at some great events across the country. With their help, I was able to learn the ropes, learn the business and grow in the industry. This will be my 30th year in the PRCA, I’ve won announcer of the year five times and am just blessed to be in the industry, be able to feed my family, and make a living. It’s been awfully good to us.
Krysta: The last couple of years haven’t been easy for rodeo professionals, what did that time look like for you, and what has it been like coming out of it?
Wayne: Thankfully, we have a couple of other little businesses that we focused on through 2020 and 2021. We lost 90% of the entertainment business, so we just focused on doing other things. I think everybody in the industry is talented and smart enough to be able to fall back and do something else for a while. Thankfully, in the last six months, it has bounced back 100%. All the rodeos that were in areas that had tight restrictions, at this point in time, are all back at 100% right now.
Krysta: Let’s talk about Redding Rodeo, can you tell me about how you got started with them and how long you’ve been announcing for their rodeo?
Wayne: I have been announcing the Redding Rodeo for at least 15 years, possibly 17. At the time, there was a gentleman that was announcing from Northern California who had been announcing Redding for many years. And of course, as we all progress and get older, he just needed a little bit of help. I happened to be in the right place at the right time and got the phone call to come in there to double up with him for several years. I’m so glad I had that opportunity because it’s grown to be not only a great rodeo, but a huge economic impact on that community, so I’m really proud to be part of it.
Krysta: In your mind, what makes Redding Rodeo special?
Wayne: The fans are over the top great. The involvement between the fans and what’s going on in the arena is huge for any production but it’s amazing to watch here in Redding. Post pandemic, we’re seeing an attitude from our fans that no matter what it is, or what it costs they are going to show up and I think that is true across the country right now. But here in California, we’ve enjoyed a fan base that is thrilled to death when the rodeo comes to town. The fans are involved, they cheer the cowboys on, they’re savvy, and they know the game. The best group of fans that you can have in front of you is a mixture of veterans and new fans and that’s true across the board.
Krysta: What is something you wish people knew about being a rodeo announcer?
Wayne: We put a lot of work into it. I have a great partner in Redding named Will Rasmussen. He and I have been friends for about 25 years, we’ve worked lots of other events together and we both work very hard at our trade. One thing that a lot of fans don’t think about or know, is that for every hour of rodeo, there are at least two hours of homework. Rodeo announcers keep databases on cowboys and livestock. So hopefully when fans attend, we don’t bore them to death with too many statistics but, especially for the new fans, we sound like we know what we’re talking about. Our job is to really know these guys, know their families, know their wives, know what they did last week, and know what they did last year. I have a trick from Will Rasmussen that at the end of the sentence of bragging on these guys, we really want to tell the fans “You better watch because this guy’s pretty good.” We don’t want to overload the fans with the facts but we do want to brag on the contestants and keep the fans engaged.
In addition, we spend a lot of time when we’re traveling analyzing the different crowds. Depending on where you are, you’re going to treat one crowd differently than you will another. Regardless of where we are, we try to create a roller coaster ride for our fans. Another aspect of what we do is to work with really talented sound techs. We’ll spend a lot of time with the sound guy, talking to them to figure out what kind of music we should be playing, if we need more engagement, and really dial in what each specific audience needs. We analyze that very closely to try to bring the best experience we can to our fans.
Krysta: Is there anything else you want to share with us before wrapping up?
Wayne: As announcers, we’re the luckiest guys in the world. Basically what we do is we travel around and brag about our friends. Whether it’s the cowboys and cowgirls or the stock contractors who bring their livestock to town, we just have one of the best jobs talking about them during the show. Additionally, Redding is a destination rodeo. It is absolutely one of the most beautiful places on the planet. They’ve got a beautiful background, shopping, and everything you could ever want in that community when you attend the rodeo. In addition to the things I just mentioned, they also have the best sponsors, volunteers, signage, beautiful grandstands, and an amazing arena. All of those things come together in a perfect downtown location to make one of the top rodeos of the year.
About Redding Rodeo
Returning to its regularly scheduled May dates this year, the 74th annual Redding Rodeo will take place May 14-21 at the Redding Rodeo Grounds. Redding Rodeo is a historic tradition that connects northern California with its western roots.
Tickets for the 74th annual Redding Rodeo are on sale now. Rodeo performance tickets range from $20 to $75, and VIP parking can be purchased for $10 when buying tickets. Tickets and parking passes will go fast, so you’ll want to purchase them soon! VIP parking permits for Saturday, May 21, are already sold out. Tickets for the annual Steak Feed and Dance are $25/per adult.
All tickets can be purchased on the Redding Rodeo website found here or by calling the Rodeo Ticket Office at (530) 241-8559. By calling the ticket office to purchase, you can get discounted children’s tickets for Family Night on Thursday, May 19.
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