They are the voices you often hear, but the faces you rarely see during the Black Hills Stock Show & Rodeo.
Wayne Brooks and and Justin McKee are the two main announcers during the 2013 Black Hills Stock Show, and both men have a long history of performing and working at rodeos and other ranch events.
Since they stay obscured during much of the event, except to keep the show flowing through their commentating and announcing, here is a look at their backgrounds.
As a PRCA announcer, Wayne Brooks brings a fresh enthusiasm to the sport enjoyed by thousands across the nation. Like many announcers, his rodeo career began in the arena as a contestant. While competing in the rough stock events, he gained an insight into the sport, which he presents to the audience to make them truly a part of each performance.
His broadcasting background has proven invaluable in rodeo promotion and sponsor recognition. Combining these experiences, Brooks creates an announcing style that is both informative and entertaining, whether it’s wild and Western or polished and professional.
A PRCA member since 1994, Brooks had the honor of being chosen as the 2005 and 2010 Announcer of the Year, with six additional nominations in this category. He was selected as one of the announcers at the Wrangler National Finals in 2005 after making his NFSR debut in 2000 with the legendary Clem McSpadden.
He has announced the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Pocatello, Idaho, three times and the Pace Picante PrRodeo Chute-Out five times. Brooks has been the voice at the Canadian Finals Rodeo for the past six years, as well as the Indian Nationals Finals five times.
His resume also includes finals in the Mountain States, Turquoise, Columbia River, and Wilderness Circuits. He announces other such respected rodeos as the Calgary Stampede, Reno Rodeo, Pendleton Roundup, California Rodeo Salinas, Rodeo Austin, Red Bluff Roundup, Black Hills Stock Show Rodeo, and the Clovis Rodeo.
Though he was born in Prescott, Ariz., he was reared on the ranchlands of Wyoming and Colorado. He believes it was this upbringing that instilled in him the importance of preserving the heritage of the West. He continues to give credence to the mystique of being Western at each performance he announces. He says, "Being involved in rodeo has provided me the opportunity to do what I enjoy. It’s the people that make a difference, and rodeo has the best."
When he isn't announcing rodeos, Brooks serves as a commercial voice talent. He and his wife, Melanie, have two daughters, Taylor and Sheridan, and a son, Ace. Although they travel across the United States and Canada, they make their home in Lampasas, Texas.
Justin McKee lives a double life in that he’s part announcer/part cowboy. But that’s not all. For the last decade he has been the host and play-by-play announcer of the Professional Bull Riders tour which airs weekly on VERSUS (formerly known as OLN) and several times a year on NBC, CBS and ESPN. He also appears regularly as a host on RFD-TV.
Besides being the "Voice of the PBR," McKee announces many rodeos including some of the biggest rodeos on the circuit such as Cheyenne, Pendleton and Ellensburg. During these rodeos, McKee has been known to disappear from the announcer’s booth for a portion of the performance only to pop up in the arena as a contestant in the Steer Roping.
In 1999 he finished in the top 35 for the year in the PRCA standings. In 2004 Justin won the first go-round in Steer Roping at Cheyenne. Then he went on to place at several other rodeos including second in the average at The Pendleton Round-Up. When the year was over he just missed qualifying for the National Finals Rodeo by three spots, ending the season number 18 in the world standings.
The remarkable part was he did it with a very limited roping schedule. McKee struck again in 2005, placing in rounds and making it back to the short-go at both Cheyenne and Pendleton. In 2006 McKee’s schedule with VERSUS and the PBR made it harder for him to compete as much as he would have liked. But his zest for steer roping has not diminished and he remains an outstanding competitor whenever he enters the arena.
The ranch-raised cowboy not only talks about bulls a lot, he raises his own. With the help of his wife, Jeannie, and young daughter, Kassidy, McKee Ranch raises purebred bucking stock, selling bucking bull futurity prospects and replacement heifers. The McKee Ranch is also well known for their quarter horses. Jeannie McKee raises, trains and sells well-bred barrel racing horses.
"I thank God every day for blessing me with the opportunity to make a living at something I enjoy so much," he said. His enthusiasm for rodeo and life is contagious and genuine. He admits, "I am one of the biggest fans in rodeo, when I’m behind the mic, I’m having a great time and one of my main goals is that everyone there is having fun, too."