Voices are unique. And some of them have personality and feeling all their own, even if we don’t recognize the connected face. We all identify with certain voices, radio DJ’s (don’t you miss Kidd Kraddick?), news anchors such as Matt Lauer or Tom Brokaw, and sportscasters like Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstriet. Coach Mack Brown’s familiar Texas accent makes his football commentary authentic and welcomed. Ellen DeGeneres reading the part instantly provides character to Dory in Finding Nemo. A personal one for me is the 20 years and counting signature “Voice of the Baylor Bears,” John Morris. Hearing him call a game on the radio rather than listening to the TV callers has a calming and comforting effect on me.
Anyone who has grown up going to the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo as I have, has come to associate Bob Tallman, or at least his voice, with the tradition. I’ve been going to the rodeo since I was a child and his voice is a constant, from Whiplash, to auctions of award winning steers, to hilarious banter with the bull fighting clowns like Dusty Tuckness and Andy Burelle.
True story, I have even listened to his assuring voice on a podcast called “Rodeo 101” to learn about the rules and scoring (and purses!) for various events.
With Bob Tallman behind the microphone, we don’t merely watch contestants — It’s like we ride with them. We get to know their horses, their families, their challenges, and their dreams – even the bulls.
Tallman calls roll at every performance’s Grand Entry as if he is friends with each and every one of the Fort Worth big wigs leading the parade. I just assumed he was a talented homer – a Fort Worth native. As it turns out, he is not. We are dang lucky to have him year in and year out.
He describes his art of announcing very simply. “Tell them the truth,” he said. “Say what you are seeing because the fans are seeing the same thing that you are. And if you can’t be positive, don’t say anything.” That art has earned him countless awards, including induction into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame and honors at the American Cowboy Culture Awards.
Who is this man we identify with and revere for his patriotism, familiarity and raw talent? Born to a ranching family in Northern Nevada, he could ride a bucking horse or ride a horse and rope but self proclaimed didn’t have what it takes to compete. “You have to dedicate your whole life to being a champion. So I thought I haven’t got that strong a constitution; I’ll just talk about it,” Tallman explained.
His early years were carefree and hectic and nearly led to disaster. By 1979, he had been in seven automobile accidents and once narrowly escaped electrocution. An airplane that he was to have boarded was hijacked. Tallman attributes his success in rodeo and business to his faith in Christ. This part is no surprise, of course, as his pre-rodeo prayers are always memorable.
After testing his strength as a rodeo competitor, he found himself comfortably behind the microphone, where he has stayed for nearly four decades. These days he is on the road approximately 270 days per year. even appearing in several films including Flicka, Rodeo Girl and, Pure Country. The venues change, of course, spanning the nation, but every year he returns to Fort Worth.
Beyond the microphone, Tallman is visionary and humanitarian, particularly in the medical arena. His foundation of Bob Tallman Charities hosts an annual fundraiser benefiting The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Children’s Cancer Hospital. Another annual beneficiary is Fort Worth based Justin Boots’ Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund.
Not only is Tallman the voice of rodeo, but a voice for change and hope. His contributions beyond the microphone are noteworthy in and of themselves. To learn more about Tallman’s foundation and other exciting ventures, visit bobtallman.com.
Visit the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo to hear this Texas legend in action once again. I’ll see you there!