RED LODGE — That syrupy voice you hear over the speakers each year at the Red Lodge Home of Champions Rodeo belongs to Doug Mathis.
"It's turned into a great career," Mathis told MTN Sports an hour before the first of a three-round performance. "I couldn't think of a better way to make a living."
Mathis has been entertaining fans in Red Lodge for 18 years, driving all the way from Stephenville, Texas, every July. It's merely one stop — albeit one of his favorites — on his 10-month travel schedule.
What fans may not realize is that guys like Mathis don't just show up at grand entry and handle the mic. They put in a lot of homework by day.
"There's four hours of prep, especially for this rodeo. This rodeo is like an NFR (National Finals Rodeo)," he said.
Like Livingston and Cody, the Home of Champions draws the world's top cowboys and cowgirls, many who are headed to the NFR and many who've been there.
With past and present world champs rolling through, Mathis knows he needs to be on point.
"Just to give you an idea, I got up at 5:00 this morning, started with the prep for this performance, have to ride in the parade every day at 11 o'clock," Mathis explained. "As soon as the parade was over, I was back and I got here (to the fairgrounds) at 4 p.m."
It added up to about six hours of prep and three more of calling the rodeo -- each day.
Mathis also carries a lot of street credibility, or in this case, dirt cred. He's been on the other side of the mic as a bull rider for 13 years after what seems like half a lifetime ago.
These days, the Texas man appreciates both lifestyles but leans toward the one now paying his bills.
"I guess it's too late to learn how to do anything else," he admitted with a laugh.