KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Andy Stewart looks at his job from many angles.
He is a researcher, a statistician and an entertainer. He has the unique ability to put it all together as one of the top emcees in professional rodeo, a six-time nominee for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Announcer of the Year.
He will bring his talents to Kansas City as the voice of the American Royal PRCA Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26, at Hale Arena inside the American Royal Complex.
“I feel that production is extremely important in the world of rodeo,” said Stewart, now in his 20th year in the PRCA. “If people get a $20 ticket, then we need to give them $40 worth of entertainment and get the most bang for their buck.”
It’s something fans have come to expect with the American Royal Rodeo over the years.
“Anytime you can be part of rodeo history – and every great cowboy, every legend that has been associated with our sport has been to the American Royal – it’s pretty special,” he said. “There are not a whole lot of rodeos in our industry that can make that kind of statement.
“For those guys to put enough trust in me to bring me in there to be part of that rodeo is a thrill.”
The American Royal Rodeo takes place on the final weekend of the 2015 regular season. It is a major stop for contestants who are scrambling to finish the campaign in a position to qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the sport’s grand finale that features the top 15 cowboys and cowgirls in each event.
That just adds to the excitement that is Kansas City’s ProRodeo.
“It’s almost like being a wildcard game in the NFL or Major League Baseball,” Stewart said. “These guys might have one shot left to make it. It’s so important, because I’ve seen guys that go to rodeos like Kansas City with that much money in the pot at the end of the season, and they can win enough money to get them to the NFR or winning a world title.
“When you talk about the extensive travel these guys have to do, the money they have to spend to get up and down the road, a rodeo like the American Royal becomes extremely crucial because they make their money at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo – that’s where they put money in the bank for the winter and hold them over for the next year.”
That just adds to the atmosphere in Kansas City.
“It turns up the level of competition as well,” he said. “Hunger is a major motivator; it’s a financial motivation for these guys. They’ve got families, they’ve got bills, they’ve got things that they’ve got to pay. When it comes crunch time like that at a great rodeo, you see the intensity level and the competition level step up another notch.”
Stewart knows what it takes to work at an elite level. He works many of the biggest rodeos in the country, including the legendary Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days Rodeo. One reason is because of his energetic, booming voice. Another is the extra work he puts ahead of each rodeo performance so that he can be the perfect voice of the fans.
For every hour he’s on the microphone, Stewart spends many more going through biographies and background and looking over all the important statistics of each competitor in the show. He understands what it takes to compete at an elite level, and he wants fans to realize it, too. It is, after all, the perfect mix of world-class competition and true family-friendly entertainment.
“Rodeos like the American Royal are special to the best of the best, the world champions,” Stewart said. “It’s not necessarily for the money, but it’s an honor and a privilege to enter Kansas City. It’s another notch on your belt to win a rodeo like the American Royal.”