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April 28, 2010

Rodeo Insider: Adkins find nitch as rodeo announcer

PALESTINE — When the Professional Bull Riders Built Ford Tough Series stops in various cities across the country on more than 30 weekends of the year, Clint Adkins serves as a co-announcer.

His career is a tale of making the big time after starting in humble beginnings.

Before he became an announcer, Adkins was a bareback rider who competed in open rodeos. However, he sustained a shoulder injury when a bronc flipped in the mid-1990s and went shopping for another career.

That’s when Adkins, who lives near Huntsville, began searching for his main purpose in life. He found it when he was visiting with a Cowboy Church minister named Ron Conatser.

Conatser, a longtime Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association judge who now raises bucking bulls, was holding regular buck-outs at his facilities in Trinity. Adkins would attend and ride bulls for fun. But one day, Conatser asked Adkins to announce the buck-outs.

“We pulled a speaker out of his church and I picked up a microphone,” Adkins said. “About three weeks later, one of the stock contractors who had been bringing bulls there hired me. He actually paid me for it. I began to have money in my pocket and I said to myself, ‘Wow, I might be able to make money at this.’”

It was apparent Adkins had talent.

“He just has that natural ability,” Conatser said. “He just handles himself in the right way and it’s really a blessing the way his career turned out.”

During the late 1990s, Adkins attended a PBR tour stop in San Antonio, where he had the opportunity to meet 1997 World Champion Michael Gaffney. It was one night that he will never forget.

“He made such an impression on me by spending time with me and making me feel so important,” Adkins said of Gaffney. “I was so impressed. I said to myself, ‘This is such a professional organization and maybe this is where I should put all of my focus on where I want to go.’ Though I had to learn through working many rodeos to learn how to announce effectively.

“I had to cut my teeth at amateur rodeos in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. But I made it my goal that night to work for the PBR.”

Adkins eventually was granted the opportunity to work on the PBR’s Touring Pro Division, the association’s farm league. That in turn helped him earn the notoriety he needed to move up to the Ford Series, the association’s top tour.

“It took me 10 years to do it,” Adkins said. “But I finally got it. I may have taken the long way around. I traveled a lot of miles and ended up burning up a lot of trucks and trailers.”

Adkins said he enjoys the PBR tour because the shows last only two or three days, which gives him the opportunity to spend more time at home with his family. Today, Adkins, 37, and his wife Jodi are raising two daughters, Riley, 9, and Emily, 5.

His advice to younger, up-and-coming announcers: Be very honest and fair.

“Tell the truth and don’t make anything up,” Adkins said. “I tell guys all of the time that I’ve never had a business card that said: ‘Call me.’ It’s always been by word of mouth. A person needs to be themselves, speak the truth and be fair to the fans and the bull riders.”

Adkins said an announcer must have a knack for relating to competitors.

“When I see guys struggling in the Touring Pro Division, I can understand what they’re going through,” he said. “I can understand the challenge of getting from event to event and the expenses involved. It’s almost like I never stopped riding.

“When people watch me announce, they notice that while I’m watching a guy ride a bull, I’m always moving. I just do that because I’m trying to ride the bull for them.”

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