As we tip our hats to the closing of another rodeo season, we sit down with famed Fort Worth Stock Show announcer Bob Tallman to talk Fort Worth tradition and Texas Exceptionalism.
Texas Exceptionalism embodies the values of Fort Worth and the ethos of a Texan’s drive to settle the American West.
At Walsh, the concept of Texas Exceptionalism inspires us to push the boundaries of convention and create a home our residents will be proud of. In this continuing series of profiles, we shine the spotlight on individuals who personify the ideal that anything is possible, heeding the call to be extraordinary in their everyday lives.
Often called “The Greatest Announcer that Ever Lived,” rodeo announcer Bob Tallman’s voice is heard by over 60 million people across the country every year at shows such as the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. A member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Hall of Fame and the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, Tallman has also managed to squeeze in roles in a few Hollywood movies when he’s not raising some the country’s finest Black Angus cattle on his Poolville, Texas, ranch near Weatherford.
Tallman’s melodious tones have been a crucial part of the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo (the season recently wrapped) since 1977. Squeezing in a moment to chat between a jam-packed schedule running production sheets and narrating all the action in the dusty ring, this grand champion of announcers shared tidbits about his storied career and his side gig for Pro View Digital Surveillance Company—who just happen to be looking after a little place called Walsh.
Walsh: How did you get started working in the rodeo world?
Bob Tallman: It’s been my life since I was a little boy. I didn’t ride very well—that’s why I talk about it! I tried to do it all and found out if I wanted to be in the rodeo business that talking about it was going to be my best suit.
I still work at it— this ain’t just show up and go, ‘Hi hon, how are you?’
W: When did you know you had something special with that voice?
BT: That is not something that I ever really paid much attention to, it just developed. If people get to believe in their own press about who they are, what they do, how wonderful life is, that’s normally the end of our career.
I’ve never been much on, ‘Wow look at me!’ I try to deter from that. I’d much rather do a good job. To me, it’s about the overall show, and I’m just one part of it.
W: We imagine that the Stock Show has changed a lot since you first started.
BT: Compared to the ‘70s or ‘80s or ‘90s or the turn of the century, technology has increased the production times 10. You need to come see the production! It’s lights and bells and whistles and music—it’s theatrical, it’s intense! We’re working with a new audience and people who are intense in their daily lifestyle with channel changers and cell phones and Facebook and YouTube.
We’ve got age 5 to 85 years old, and when they come to the rodeo or bring their families to watch good cowboys win big, they expect the show to be as good as the opera in Bass Hall. The expectations of the audience are immense. It’s as intense as it gets from the opening ceremony to the closing ceremony, 36 times in 23 days! It’s just big.
We hold the cable that pulls the chains, but the rehearsals and actual production team are 150 (people) that you actually never see.
W: You’re not a Texas native. How did you end up in this neck of the woods?
BT: I came to Texas in 1992 full time to live. I came from Northeast Oregon but I’ve been announcing the rodeo here since 1977, so I spent a lot of time in Texas. When I came here, I came here with needs in the field of reproductive physiology for a bucking bull program I was doing because of an embryologist in Weatherford. And I came here for the knowledge there was here to attain and never regretted it one bit. I look at it, if you spend 40 years of your life here, that’s not enough.
W: How did you get involved with the Walsh development and what is your role there?
BT: Through my involvement in the stock show. (The Walshes) are livestock people—I’ve been around these people for 20 to 25 years maybe and, due to their ranch management people, I’ve been friends with a lot of them for a long time. When all (the development) got started, Larry Fowler, who’s the sheriff in Parker Country called me and said, ‘Bob, we need to go to this groundbreaking meeting and see what we can do to facilitate some security policies’
Now what we do (at Pro View), is we build all of our own mobile security systems that we deploy all over the United States. We’ve got these big security units throughout the Walsh Ranch project, and as it grows, we move them around for asset protection, traffic safety, and so on. We have 24-7 monitoring set up so I can watch the equipment on my phone whether I’m in Tokyo or Pittsburgh.
W: What do you think about all the development that’s happening there?
BT: It’s exciting. There are people who want to live out in the country, but they still want city amenities and atmosphere, and this is probably one of the finest designed cities in the making in the country.
W: And Fort Worth is changing fast!
BT: Fort Worth has been changing really fast since the first time I came here, but that’s just normal growth. If you don’t think it’s not changing, just drive from the 820 loop to Arlington. I believe growth is good. There’s a lot of people who would like to hide from growth, but I say, ‘If you want to hide from growth, move to Montana.’
W: How could a new transplant to the area get involved in the rodeo?
BT: As a spectator, you have to have the desire to want to be involved. As a spectator or an exhibitor, it just becomes part of your passion and daily makeup.
4H and the Future Farmers of America are huge here, and that’s the mainstay of what we do, we raise money for scholarships. That’s a big deal.
W: This is the latest in our series of interviews that touch on Texas Exceptionalism. What does that mean to you?
BT: To me, Texas Exceptionalism has to do with the people you surround yourself with. I tried to bring what talent I had and wants and desires to an area that would allow me to excel in doing what I love. Whether it ties into the rodeo biz, the livestock biz, then through this security thing.
From the Walsh family to the Stock Show to the growth of Fort Worth to the livestock industry where we raise beef to feed these people, it’s a swirling circle that just grows and grows. In my business you never retire, it’s too exciting! Why would you retire, you just rock and roll and go!