Brandon Bates got his start in announcing by introducing the starting lineups at Atoka High School basketball games.
“I wasn't scared to talk on the microphone and I knew it would get me out of class,” said Bates, who for the past 10 years has been the arena voice for the PBR.
The Edmond resident wears many hats. In addition to working for the PBR as the arena announcer, Bates, 32, also is executive director of the Express Sports Agency in Oklahoma City.
The agency handles endorsements for Oklahoma bull riders such as Austin Meier and Ryan Dirteater and rodeo cowboys such as Hunter Herrin and Billy Etbauer.
He also works for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, where he is executive producer and co-host for the organization's television show, Team Elk, which is broadcast on the Outdoor Channel.
But it is his job with the PBR for which he is best known.
His career with a microphone began in Atoka where he finished high school after persuading his parents to let him move from Louisiana to Oklahoma and live with his grandparents in Atoka County.
“As I grew up, I spent my summers in Oklahoma,” Bates said. “I just really liked Oklahoma. By the time I was 14 or 15, I somehow convinced my mom to let me move in with my grandparents, all because I just really wanted to live in the country.”
Upon discovering at the high school basketball games that he had a knack for announcing, Bates starting looking for similar work where he could find it.
“The first Western event where I picked up a microphone at was the Atoka Trail Riders Play Day on a Wednesday night when I was a senior in high school,” Bates said.
Bates loved the rodeo life and had began riding bulls at age 12. He started announcing at rodeos in exchange for his bull riding entry fee.
After all the other bull rides were completed, Bates would climb down from the announcer's booth and go climb aboard a bull's back. The rodeo wasn't officially over until the announcer had attempted to ride a bull for eight seconds.
“The judge would stick around for me,” Bates said. “I would usually get drilled. For a long time I did that until I finally quit riding bulls and started focusing on the announcing.”
At age 20, Bates was the youngest announcer to ever earn a PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) card.
He worked as the announcer at small rodeos to eventually prestigious events such as the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo and the National Circuit Finals Rodeo.
While living in Atoka, Bates had met Mark Cain, one of the 20 original founders of the PBR. When announcer Justin McKee became the television host for the PBR in 2002, Bates took over as the announcer in the arena.
He was offered 18 events in 2002, and it's turned into 10 years. He has called PBR events at some of the most famous arenas in the country, such as Madison Square Garden in New York City.
About the only thing lacking on his resume is announcing the National Finals Rodeo, but Bates said that's not a career goal.
“If I don't ever do the NFR (National Finals Rodeo), I really don't care,” Bates said. “I did the PBR Finals and that was my NFR. I have a lot of respect for that rodeo, don't get me wrong.
“The NFR means a lot of to me as a fan, but I don't lie in bed at night wondering if I am going to do the NFR. The PBR, to me, is currently the marquee Western event out there.”