By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador
Joe Scully has worn many hats in his career as an announcer. He is a DJ and has done live commentary for Motorsports and other sporting events. He is also a Race Director, but the hat he is most comfortable in would probably have to be his cowboy hat and his role as a Rodeo Announcer:
“I analyse a performance or competition and find a way to enhance the spectator experience by highlighting storylines as they develop.” Scully says that in most cases, “the competitors are unknown to the general spectator”. So, it is his job to give the crowd a reason to cheer the competitors on “and also [for them] to begin to appreciate the intricacies of what comprises a successful run or ride.”
For Scully, “The ultimate goal is to make this commentary interesting and intriguing for first-time spectators.” He also finds a way to keep things interesting for those who continually come out to rodeos, whether they are participating in, or watching the events.
Joe explains that “the energy” is what he loves most about being a rodeo announcer:
“Through rhythm of commentary and complementary music, one can really bring the energy of the room up and down in anticipation of the action. It's a challenge to time it right, as there are so many variables, but to be able to enhance a moment and make it a genuine experience, that's a win. I like to look at the ‘energy’ like how you would drive a race car. You don't redline the whole way around the track, but if timed right, bursts are the difference in finishing at the front, middle or back. Some of my colleagues will yell for an entire performance, and have hype for every single component – which is ok – but if you want the crowd to stick with you, they can't carry that energy for 3 hours, and neither can the announcer.” Scully warns that announcers can also lose credibility if they give too much “hype” to a participant whose performance is consistently poor. “So, [you have] to ride the energy and have the right highs and lows. You may be exhausted, but it's exhilarating.”
The path he took may have been “the long path” however it seems to have served Joe well. He was born in the Greater Toronto Area and raised at a roping facility near Guelph, Ontario. He now lives in Grey County but Scully has always been interested in the rodeo environment:
“I was a rodeo competitor and became a rodeo clown in my teens. I then went to college for Radio Broadcasting, as it was the closest field to being a rodeo clown. [I] eventually got into Radio Sales which took priority over being a rodeo clown. Soon, I missed the excitement, and then took up announcing as ... another career, and loved the experience. From there I entered the International Professional Rodeo Association Contract Acts Showcase and won in 2007. [I] then applied for my Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association accreditation and earned it in 2008.” Joe has since worked as an announcer in 13 different states and 4 different provinces.
For anybody interested in this career path, Joe advises aspiring Rodeo Announcers to “get as many gigs as possible, and try something new every time. I do a lot of junior or high school rodeos, which is my testing ground for sound effects, timing, etc.” In addition, Joe strongly suggests that you “video every second and watch it back. Have the videographer [record] both the action and you, so you can see what you were looking at, and what you missed. I like ‘eavesdropping’ to hear what people around the camera are talking about. Often times, it's simple stuff like, ‘her horse's boots match her saddle pad’, which is something that ‘newbies’ relate to. [This] is stuff to highlight to appeal to ‘newbies’. No performance is the same, learn something or try something every time.”