KANSAS CITY, Mo. – There was a time when Randy Corley rode bucking beasts. From horses to bulls, the rodeo lifestyle was in his blood at a young age.
These days, Corley talks about and shares just why it’s still a passion all these years later. You see, Corley is one of the elite announcers in ProRodeo, an 11-time announcer of the year in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.
“I know it’s competition, but it is also entertainment, and we get to watch some pretty cool athletes in a real Western tradition,” said Corley, who has been nominated for the award again this year. “I guess that’s why I love it, because I’m Western. It’s something, I think, most people can understand. There’s not a kid that grew up in American that didn’t want to be a cowboy. I think somewhere in your young life, you wanted to ride horses and be a cowboy.
“For me, I spurred the back off my mom’s couch.”
It’s that passion that will be part of the show at the American Royal Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, inside Hale Arena at the American Royal Complex. Corley returns to Kansas City to call the action and be part of the first-class production that is one of the most prestigious events in the history of professional rodeo.
“I’ve always loved it,” he said of rodeo. “As an announcer, you feed off the fans, and you love to see the fans have fun. I have fun. I’m a huge rodeo fan. I get excited when great rides are happening.”
It’s at that moment that Corley not only calls the action, but also becomes part of it.
“I don’t think you try to make a crowd cheer for every ride, because every ride isn’t worthy,” he said. “Sure, every cowboy deserves the respect, but not every ride deserves that kind of energy. But when something exciting happens, I have somewhere to go with it, and the fans do, too.”
It’s easy for Corley, because it comes with his love affair with the game. Being one of the best in the business also means handling the tasks like the business it is.
“I do three hours of homework for every performance, whether it’s during the National Finals Rodeo or the American Royal,” he said. “You try to find something to use on the contestants to help the fans along. You can have a daysheet full of information, and you’re just hoping there’s so much action that you don’t have to use any of it. You just want the entire performance to just flow along, and then it’s my job to play along with the crowd and make it a better show for everyone.”
If the 11 announcer of the year buckles aren’t enough of a recognition, then throw in the fact that Corley has called ProRodeo’s grand championship, the NFR, 11 times in his storied career. That’s a great indication of talent for a man who began his announcing career more than three decades ago on the recommendation of Jim Ivory, a bareback rider who had made the NFR in the 1960s.
“I had a hat store at the time in Cody (Wyo.), and Jim heard me do my commercials,” Corley said. “He suggested I start announcing some rodeos.”
Corley became a member of the PRCA in 1980, and he’s been telling rodeo’s stories ever since. He works events all over the country, including summertime Kansas rodeos in Pretty Prairie, Hill City and Phillipsburg, as well as North Platte, Neb., which he calls with his father-in-law, ProRodeo Hall of Famer Hadley Barrett.
He’s worked some of the largest rodeos in the country, and he’s always excited to return to Kansas City in the fall to tackle the American Royal Rodeo.
“It’s always great, and it’s one of the most noted old Western towns in the country,” Corley said. “When you reflect on the stockyards, you realize that you’re standing down there in history. The rodeo is still a connection with that, and it’s an honor for me to work that event.”