For the past decade, the All American ProRodeo Finals have headlined the Heart O’ Texas Fair and Rodeo, bringing with it various events from Mutton Bustin’ to Steer Wrestling.
And for those attending, you’ll hear the familiar voice of ProRodeo Hall of Fame announcer Randy Corley bouncing off the rafters of the Extraco Events Center.
Born in Wyoming, Corley has made a career in the rodeo by calling events all over the United States, including Seattle and Nebraska, a place he called home for 27 years. Corley is a 12-time winner of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Announcer of the Year Award and has announced the National Finals Rodeo 16 times.
But it’s Corley’s beginning that the legend might be the most proud of.
His story begins nearly four decades ago in Nebraska, where Corley began making radio commercials and compeing in bull and bareback riding before deciding to attend broadcasting school.
Soon after school, Corley nabbed a gig calling the rodeo in North Platte, a town in the southwest part of Nebraska.
As Corley made his way night in and night out through the rigors of a small-town rodeo, fate intervened. A participant named Michelle was impressed with what she heard and brought an idea to her father Hadley Barrett, a North Platte native and announcer himself, to come listen to Corley.
“I got a call one day from Hadley and he asked if I was interested,” Corley said.
It turned out to be a great move — for both his career and personal life.
The contestant that introduced Corley to Barrett, Michelle, would eventually become his wife. Hadley Barrett, though, would be a major influence the rest of his life.
A legend in the sport himself, Barrett, who passed away in March, needs no introduction to professional rodeo fans. A career spanning generations, Barrett was named the PRCA announcer of the year four times inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 1999.
So Corley’s induction to the HOF earlier this year comes as no surprise.
“Hadley was my best friend,” Corley said. “He used to kid and tell people that I was the only mistake his daughter made. He called me his illegitimate son-in-law. He was a good man.”
Though Barrett’s death still resonates with Corley, he still gets a kick out of doing something he was destined to do as a young man growing up in Nebraska. And at the age of 65, Corley still enjoys coming to Waco and being a part of the ProRodeo Finals each and every year.
“It’s one of the most exciting formats there is,” he said. “Fans get to see a lot of action in one weekend.”
Judging by attendance the past week, Corley knows the fans love the events just as much as he does.
“There have been solid crowds this week, but it amps up on the weekends,” Corley said. “The more fans we have come out, the more fun it is. Last weekend, we were full to the rafters, so we expect the same this weekend.”