A Stretch of the Imagination

by Ted Harbin

Cattlemen’s Days Sound Director is Always Ready for the Action

GUNNISON, Colo. – Randy Mayer was just clowning around when he came upon the task of music direction.

It’s not funny business anymore for the Mississippi man, who will return to Gunnison for this year’s Cattlemen’s Days PRCA Rodeo, set for Thursday, July 15-Saturday, July 17, at Fred Field Western Center in Gunnison.

“I’ve been coming to Gunnison for about eight years,” said Mayer, 44, of Potts Camp, Mississippi, in the state’s northwest corner. “I have a great job. I get to work with the best announcers, the best specialty acts, the best stock contractors and some of the best committees in rodeo. I love all the rodeos I work, and I’m thankful to be everywhere I get to go.”

Of course, spending every July in the Rocky Mountains for rodeos in Gunnison, Monte Vista, Colorado, and Ogden, Utah, is a pretty comfortable setting, especially compared to the heat and humidity of his home not far from Memphis, Tennessee.

He’s been recognized as one of ProRodeo’s best sound directors, the men and women who put music and other digital sounds as the accompaniment to the action and entertainment inside the arena. Mayer has been nominated as the PRCA’s Sound Director of the Year each of the past four seasons, and there’s a good reason behind it.

And it’s almost as if the job fit him before he fit into the job.

“I started out in rodeo when I was 14 years old and worked my first rodeo in September 1992 as a barrelman,” Mayer said. “I did that until I was 26 or 27.”

His calling changed, and so did his life’s work. As a whiz with a computer, Mayer found his way to being a sound director by happenstance. Another sound man, Matt Harris, needed some work done on his PC and asked Mayer to handle the workload. They tested it out at an amateur rodeo Harris was working with his ProRodeo Hall of Fame father, Lecile Harris.

Mayer’s experience doing morning, midday and drive-time shows on WGKX KIX 106 in Memphis was put on full display. Lecile Harris, who had been involved in rodeo production for years, knew there was something special brewing.

“Alan Moorhead was the announcer, and when it was over with, they all said I was a natural fit for it,” Mayer said. “I went from two rodeos to four my second year, then on to five and six and it just kept building. I started working with Scotty Lovelace and was with him starting in 2010.

“In 2013, I got hooked up with Stace Smith; that’s how I got myself to Gunnison.”

He works about 20 rodeos a year across the country and has a blast doing it. It’s more than music and more than just creating a song list; he pays particular attention to the action and has downloaded so many sounds that the perfect “reaction” to what happens is just a mouse-click away. Whether it’s a buck-off or a great ride, Mayer is ready, willing and more than capable of creating the perfect moment for the audience.

It helps, too, that he oftentimes works with announcer Andy Stewart, who serves as the voice of Cattlemen’s Days rodeo.

“Andy and I’ve worked side-by-side pretty much the whole time I’ve been I n the PRCA,” said Mayer, who oftentimes goes by the nickname “Stretch,” given his 6-foot-7-inch frame. “We’ve got great chemistry. I know where he’s going, and he knows where I’m fixing to go, and we work off that really well.”

It shows through each performance, and the fans in Gunnison are oftentimes the beneficiaries of their work together.

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