I love the power of a people working together, and thousands of Professional Bull Riders fans are uniting in a single effort to get announcer Justin McKee his job back.
I’m not sure it’ll work, but I applaud the effort.
Justin is a rodeo announcer turned TV commentator who still loves the life on the rodeo trail. He got the job as a play-by-play commentator when the PBR became its own producer a decade ago and hired McKee and Tuff Hedeman to call the shots, replacing Dan Miller and Don Gay.
The truth is, Justin and Tuff took their lumps in those early years, but each broadcast showed the two were getting better at being TV stars. McKee used his years of knowing the cowboys and understanding the bull business to continue to progress. When Tuff moved away from the PBR, Justin has teamed with a handful of others.
By the time producers promoted Craig Hummer to the role of play-by-play commentator, McKee was handling the role of color analyst. He excelled at the role, even though there were a host of color analysts on set, from Ty Murray to Justin McBride to J.W. Hart. Even though he was the best analyst on each show, he was being weeded out in favor of former bull riders.
PBR fans are a little miffed, as you might expect. They say the production is lacking, and they’re probably right. But it’s also the world of change, and most of us don’t like change. I watched Sunday’s final performance from Anaheim, Calif., and I will admit that there are several pieces of the puzzle missing to make a high quality production.
But probably the most telling sign that fans are upset with McKee’s absence in the PBR telecasts is the Save Justin McKee page on Facebook, which has more than 1,600 fans already, including Josh Peter, author of Fried Twinkies, Buckle Bunnies, and Bull Riders, a novel about the PBR.
The truth is I’d love to see Justin doing what he loves, whether explaining things on a PBR telecast or calling the action at a small rodeo in Kansas. He’s earned the right to be happy.