GUYMON, Okla. – Justin Rumford’s “Rumpshaker” is a nickname that fits his personality; it’s not his persona.
So, when friend and business partner Aaron Ferguson suggested a podcast called RümpChät, Rumford and cohost Josh “Hambone” Hilton went to work.
“When Hambone and I got together, he started Googling everything podcast,” said Rumford, who returns to the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 30; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 1; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 2, at Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena. “He goes to Best Buy and gets $2,000 worth of equipment.
“We started off joking around. A year and a half in, and we’re 262nd ranked out of 360,000 podcasts.”
Why is the podcast so successful? Much of it has to do with the personalities behind the production, namely Rumford and Hilton. It’s rodeo-centric, since both men have spent most of their lives in the sport. It’s comedic, but that’s also a word that defines both men, especially Rumford, the reigning nine-time PRCA Clown of the Year.
Still, there’s more to the show.
“I think it’s successful because it’s not B.S.,” said Rumford, who grew up 215 miles northeast of Guymon in the tiny burg of Abbyville, Kansas, but now lives in Ponca City, Oklahoma, with his wife, Ashley, and their three children. “When we started listening to other podcasts, they were all so cookie-cutter. We wanted to tell the truth, even if it was brutal.
“It’s not just a rodeo podcast, but it’s very agriculture. We have a lot of farmers, ranchers and oilfield workers who listen. We’re a blue-collar, beer drinking-man’s podcast.”
RümpChät is also appealing, but so is Rumford. His personality hasn’t changed since the day he was born into a family that produced rodeos. What fans hear in the arena is something they’d likely hear if they were to engage the decorated clown behind the scenes. It’s just who Justin Rumford is.
It’s also why he’s one of the most sought-after entertainers in rodeo. This will be just the second time he’s worked Pioneer Days Rodeo, and it’s a bit of a mulligan from four springs ago. On the day of the first performance, he and a bullfighter were involved in a vehicle wreck on the way to an appearance.
That was just part of it. Rumford also had strep throat and was sick throughout the weekend in Guymon. He had a fever of 102 degrees and spent several hours of the final day of the rodeo in the hospital, unable to perform his duties.
“The hardest rodeos to book are the ones that are close to you, and I’ve been thinking about returning to Guymon since I left,” he said. “That committee was so good to me, and I want to repay them and that community.”
Texas County, Oklahoma, is not new to Rumford. From competing to hauling livestock, he’s kicked the dirt around Guymon plenty.
“I’ve been going there for as long as I can remember,” Rumford said. “The cool thing about Guymon is it’s seriously like a reunion. I have so many friends from that community that I know, plus there are so many guys from Panhandle State that come back. There are a lot of my friends from Goodwell that never left, and with Frontier as the stock contractor, there are even more friends.
Frontier Rodeo is the six-time reigning PRCA Stock Contractor of the Year based in Freedom, Oklahoma. The outfit is run by Heath Stewart, and it produces some of the largest rodeos in the country annually.
“I’ve known Heath since I was 17 years old, and those guys have always been great to me,” he said, noting he may arrive in Guymon behind the wheel of one of Frontier’s big rigs. “When I go with Frontier or Flying U (Rodeo) or Beutler & Son, if there’s an opportunity where I can throw my stuff in the tack trailer and drive a semi down, sort and feed, I always enjoy the hell out of it.
“It’s still my favorite thing to do.”
Being a clown is a business, and he takes to it like it’s a second skin. Before he made it big wearing a microphone, his antics were legendary for keeping cowboys and contract personnel entertained anywhere Rumford worked a room.
Beyond being reunited with the Frontier crew, the Guymon committee and announcers Andy Stewart and Ken Stonecipher, Rumford will also work with Hilton, a two-time PRCA Sound Director of the Year who handles the music and musings at Pioneer Days Rodeo.
They’ll likely record an episode or two of RümpChät during their time together in Guymon.
“Hambone is really good and one of the best sound men in rodeo,” Rumford said. “He’s easy to work with, whether we’re at a rodeo or doing the podcast. To be with people you consistently work with helps you do your job better.
“I don’t know anything about computers or streaming. All I actually do is just sit down and talk. Without Hambone, there wouldn’t be RümpChät.”
Without Rumford, there will still be rodeo. It just won’t be as funny or as entertaining.