Classic Cowboys / Rodeo

Sport with Heart — Bob Tallman

Bob Tallman

There’s no voice in all of rodeo that is heard more often by more persons than that of Bob Tallman, the popular PRCA rodeo announcer, television commentator, and host of his own world-wide radio program, The Great American Cowboy. Bob announces between 200 and 300 individual rodeo performances a year, and it’s a second full-time job cutting programs for the daily radio feeds.

He was named World Champion Rodeo Announcer last January at the PRCA convention, and all agreed, the honor was well de-served. Bob’s at the top of his game—he has come a long way since his start, 16 years ago, when he became a PRCA member who wanted to announce rodeos. The jobs didn’t exactly spring up in front of him, but rodeo producer Bob Cook, in California, finally promoted Bob from truck driver to part-time announcer, and he was on his way.

Bob received another honor, and job actually, when the American Heart Association named him National Chairman for “Prorodeo: America’s Sport With Heart.” Through radio, TV, and other media carrying public service anouncements, Bob has helped promote the AHA as well as his own sport. The last performance of the National Finals in ’82 was even proclaimed “PRCA/American Heart Association Day.”

Bob’s charitable activities are a natural extension of his job as rodeo announcer and radio host. He likes people. He has to like people, because he is surrounded by crowds almost daily in his rodeo work. He thrives on the action, to point.

He’ll tell you, in one of his public service announcements, that heart disease is the number one killer. And he’ll briefly offer a fer tips on how one might help guard against heart attack or stroke, and conclude with an appeal for financial support for the AHA. He may also sense that it would be well t follow his own advice. Stress, certainly, can contribute to heart problems, and there is a lot of stress in Bob’s life.

“I’ve got to slow down,” he says. “And I’ve got to spend more time with my family.” His wife Kristen, and eight-year-old daughter Nicole, travel with Bob from time to time, but mostly they are home in Reno. Bob likes to get the adrenalin flowing, to pump himself up before he addresses a rodeo crowd or cuts a radio tape, or goes on television, but the hardest part of his daily routine is the time alone, in a hotel room.

“There have been times, stuck in a room, when I thought I was going to go crazy, when I’ve been on the road for weeks, a month, or more. The only thing that saves me is the telephone. I call home a lot.” His phone bill runs around $1,000 a month; of course, that includes the tape feeds he provides for the Great American Cowboy staff, whose offices are in Eugene, Oregon.

The program, incidentally, started on a shoestring a few years ago, when Bob, Graham Marden, Kip and Peter Powell, and Jan Yearwood rounded up a handful of sponsors and radio stations, and provided daily coverage of the National Finals.

“It was incredible,” Bob says. “We talked it over, when we were trying to decide whether to take the plunge and try to market the Program throughout the continent. We told each other, ‘Hey, this is going to cost a lot of money, and we might not get any of it back.’ But every time we got into one of those discussions, considering the possibility of failure, we always said, ‘Let’s do it!”

The program, of course, has proven to be extremely successful.

But Bob is serious about the “slowing down” part. He’s putting a ranch together in the Northwest, an endeavor that doesn’t exactly sound like a leisurely activity, but it won’t be a one-man operation, and Bob will still announce a good share of rodeos, especially in the summer, and he will still host the Great American Cowboy radio program. Even the latter could be cut back a little, as far as effort goes: “I’ve cut a year’s supply of feature interviews with cowboys, cowgirls, and other people related to the business,” he says. “In other words, I could be dead for a year, and the program would still go on.”

But he doesn’t want to be dead —not at age 35. He just wants time to enjoy life a bit more than he has been able to for a long while. Bob thinks the ranch idea is a dandy. He was raised on a ranch near Winnemucca, Nev., so it’s not like he doesn’t have an inkling of what he is in for.

Most folks don’t know it, but Bob was also a pretty fair rodeo hand himself as a youth in 4-H competitions, high school, and college rodeos. He competed in every event but saddle bronc riding; calf roping was his favorite. He chose rodeo announcing, rather than competition, he says, because the knack he had for finishing “just out of the money.”

This article was originally published in the June 1983 issue of Western Horseman.

3 thoughts on “Sport with Heart — Bob Tallman”

  1. Besides all that he’s a great guy !!!! that’s the great aware beside also being ( announce for being )Christen man!

  2. I’ve always loved ur style of announcing, melodic Knowledge and friendship with all who you meet, I shook ur hand at Calgary one year, great memories ,even when u were in a hurry to the booth. Best wishes and regards.


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