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20 years after going pro, PRCA announcer Barney Sheridan still enjoying the ride

Posted at 1:19 PM, May 09, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-09 15:25:34-04

HAMITLON — Looking back after 20 years of doing this professionally, Barney Sheridan's only regret about getting roped into the unique world of rodeo announcing is that it didn't happen sooner.

"If there's anything I would change, I would have discovered this when I was a little bit younger," said Sheridan from outside his booth at the Ravalli County Fairgrounds on the final evening of the University of Montana Spring Rodeo.

"I just wished I had found it a little sooner," he continued. "There are guys starting out in their 20s and they have such a big jump."

An Arizona native, Sheridan got his first job in radio when he was 19 and worked at various stations around the southwest and Los Angeles. A trip to Montana in 1989 quickly convinced him that he wanted to call the Treasure State home.

He moved to Missoula in 1990 where he and his wife have owned and operated a pair of radio stations since.

In 1996, his first opportunity to announce a rodeo — something he had never pictured himself doing — presented itself.

"Some good friends up in Arlee used to do a series rodeo every Friday night," he said. "A guy didn't show up and they asked. So I stepped up and did it that Friday night. Then a committee came to me and said 'would you do our rodeo next weekend?' and it kind of went from there.

That it did. He joined the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in 2004 and since then has announced hundreds of rodeos across the nation, something that keeps him on the road for most of the year. And while most of his work is with PRCA events, he still does some college rodeos including UM's Spring Rodeo and the Big Sky Regional Finals each year.

"I started announcing this rodeo before any of these contestants were even born," he noted.

He uses his booth to both entertain the crowd and keep spectators informed in a way that's discernible to both people who have never attended a rodeo and those who have a deeper understanding of the sport.

"Try to relate to people who are savvy rodeo fans, as well as people at their very first ever rodeo," he said. He pointed out that during Friday's cold and rainy long-go roping rounds that the ropes used by the cowboys and cowgirls "either get very stiff or very loose, and you saw a lot of trouble from that. I want people to understand that the rope they've thrown a thousand times is not behaving like it has before."

A single trip to Big Sky Country convinced him this is where he wanted to hang his hat. And a spur-of-the-moment opportunity convinced him that being behind a microphone at rodeos was something he was going to be passionate about for a long time. Now 20 years after earning his PRCA registration, he's still enjoying the ride.

"I never envisioned becoming a rodeo announcer," said Sheridan. "And now it's what we do seven months out of the year. And it's exciting, every one of them is completely different. It's a great way to go."