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Meet the Member Duane Bellin
story by Terry Rhodes
If you go to any Mid-States rodeo, you might find Duane Bellin anywhere in the arena, or even the crow’s nest announcing the rodeo. This year he has also begun to serve as the contract personnel representative for the association. In the course of Duane’s rodeo career he has competed in every event with the exception of saddle broncs. “I have fought bulls, I have clowned, I’ve rode barebacks, team roped, steer wrestled, calf roped, and rode bulls. I have switched my attention to announcing but I still practice bull dogging and team roping.” His duties as contract personnel representative are to serve as a liaison between rodeo contractors and the association board of directors. “If the contractors have any suggestions or issues they will contact me and I’ll present them to the board and get them resolved. It’s an honor to be the contract representative and will do my best for the contestants.” Duane has been in the association for the past six years and also has been in the neighboring NSRA and KPRA.
Duane is one of the more sought after announcers and stays pretty busy during the rodeo season. “Last year I had 33 performances of rodeos and bull ridings. These were Mid-States rodeos, NSRA rodeos, open rodeos, high school rodeos, and few junior high rodeos.” He was also named 2011 Announcer of The Year by NSRA.
One the key elements to doing a great job of announcing is to have plenty of background information on the contestants, the standings, the livestock, and being able to describe the events to the audience. Who is better qualified to do that, than someone who has competed in most of the events? For a two to three hour rodeo, Duane spends several hours in advance researching the contestants, standings, stock, and any other interesting story lines that are important to the audience.
He gets to the rodeo well in advance so he can spend time in the entry office talking with contestants and making sure he knows everyone. “I do a little bio on contestants that comes from just talking to them and asking how they’ve been doing. Hanging out with the secretaries you get a chance to meet new contestants. The secretaries are a great source of information too because they are familiar with contestants and what’s going on.”
Announcing is half of a great rodeo production; the other is sound and music. “I carry my own sound system with me and its run by my son, Austin and my daughter, Ashley. They have a company called Fat Kid Productions and they handle all the music and sound. I really praise them for their work because they talk to the cowboys and cowgirls too, so they’re picking up information that I can use in announcing. He’s watching the rodeo and feeding me adlibs that really make the performance. My wife, Lisa is my support crew in all this.”
Duane’s start in the announcing game came quite accidentally. “I was working as a radio announcer and had been doing that for 11 years. I went to a high school rodeo one time and was visiting with the announcer and he handed me the mic and said ‘talk’. Things just kind of built up from there. People would call and ask if I could announce their rodeo.” Duane says that while radio is very scripted, rodeo is a lot of adlib.
He says that Hadley Barrett is a mentor of his and that he and Wayne Brooks are two announcers that he considers the best in the business.
He and his family live in Valentine, Neb. During the week Duane works for the Nebraska Department of Highways. “We also have ranch and run about 400 head of cows. My brother-in-law and father-in-law all work on the family ranch.”