What’s the same question all promoters ask? From Colonel Tom Parker to P.T. Barnum to the high school teacher who organizes faculty fundraiser basketball games, the question is, “How can we promote for free?” Throughout my radio career the answer was simple: Create a celebrity event, and invite disc jockeys!
Well, why not? Appeal to our ego, and we’ll go anywhere. Plus we’ll talk about it on the radio, which is Free Advertising! Plus radio stations love to get DJs “out in the public eye.” It’ll be fun. The theory is that if the disc jockey makes a good impression, you might gain more listeners. What could possibly go wrong?
The first mistake is in not asking the question, “Is this dangerous?” The second mistake is accepting the answer, “Hey, that’s part of the fun!”
Oakdale is the “Cowboy Capital of the World!” But to make sure the world takes notice, they created “The Disc Jockey Calf-Roping Contest.” It’s pretty safe, if you’re a cowboy. You’ve seen this event: A young calf, about 150 pounds, is let out a chute. The cowboy on horseback races out and lassoes the critter. The rope goes taught, the calf is jerked onto its back, the cowboy jumps off his horse, and while the calf is still dazed, ties up three of its legs. Done and done in 6 seconds. It looks easy, so bring on the disc jockeys, and we’ll all have a good time!
Out goes the calf, out goes the cowboy on horseback, and out goes the first disc jockey, on foot, trailing by a hundred yards, and losing ground. The cowboy lassoes the little doggie and then sits motionless; where’s the DJ? The crowd starts to laugh; this is quite a scene. The doggie staggers to it feet and starts running. But the rope is one big tether, forcing the little critter to run in a perfect circle, around and around that horse. The DJ, not in great shape, runs the same circle, losing ground with each stride. Keystone Cops wearing Cowboy Hats! After a while, the DJ gives up pursuit, waves to the crowd and walks out of the arena.
I’m next and I have a plan! No chasing that calf in circles for me! Out goes to the calf, out goes the horseback cowboy, and I . . . run straight to the horse! At the saddle horn I grab the rope, and follow it zip-line style while I chase after the running-in-circles calf. That solves one problem. I reach the calf but it’s not about to slow down. Here I am, skidding along, holding onto its neck until we finally come to a halt. The crowd is having a hoot. The calf is not happy.
I’m to reach over its kicking body, and jerk upward as my knees buckle into the calf’s ribs, tossing it on its side. In that bent over position, 150 pounds is a lot of weight. I manage. My knees fall on the calf’s ribcage. The calf is kicking up a storm. With two hands I grab its three legs. My little rope is between my teeth. I need two more hands! I’m supposed to wrap the rope two times around those legs and then cinch up a Hooey knot. What’s a Hooey knot? It doesn’t matter because I won’t get that far. First, one leg slips free, so I start over. Two legs slip free, so I start over. All three legs slip free, so I start over. This goes on for a while. The crowd loves the comedy. Three minutes go by and my time is up. My chest is heaving like I just blew up a truck tire. Several thousand have watched me fail. Don’t try this at home, folks. What fun.
Next up is Larry Maher, the KFIV afternoon guy. He liked my “run-to-the-horse-and-grab-the-rope” idea. Down the rope line he goes. The calf jumps up and takes off running. Larry gets to the end of his rope, where he picks up and slams down his calf. All calves have the same DNA, and this one is another kicker. Larry gets right down into this buzz saw of flailing legs, and one hoof kicks him right behind the left ear. Larry is also hapless when it comes to Hooey knots, a rope trick that’s too darn tricky. Soon his three minutes are up.
The crowd’s laughter (this is all good-natured fun, right?) turns to a gasp when they see bright red blood streaming down Larry’s neck. That fleshy part behind the ear bleeds like a stuck pig. (I don’t know anything about stuck pigs, but barnyard descriptions seem appropriate). Larry hasn’t noticed the blood, but three little words get his attention: “Larry, you’re bleeding!!”
An ambulance is always present at rodeos. It’s all good-natured fun, right? Six stitches and a turban bandage conclude today’s afternoon of fun.
We’ll be back next year; show biz is our life. Next month we’ll get to try Celebrity Roller Derby. What could possibly go wrong?