Well, folks, true to PBR style, only one person so far has acknowledged receiving our petition: Rick Patterson, Co-founder of Spire Capital. Don’t get excited; it’s a blowoff. Here it is:
Dear Ms. DiLorenzo,
I received your package this morning. We too value Justin McKee and what he brings to our fans. In case you did not see it the is the release that was posted to the PBR site about Justin.
Leah has not disappeared from the Versus telecasts. She is splitting the season with Erin, a schedule which pleases her I should add.
Thanks you for sharing your passion.
Here’s their cagey press release:
PUEBLO, Colo. (February 4, 2011) – The Professional Bull Riders is excited to announce that Justin McKee and PBR Now on RFD-TV will both return to the airwaves on Thursday, Feb. 10th for a special edition of the highly popular program. McKee and PBR have also finalized an agreement to include McKee as a media and live event personality in future projects.
“I’ve enjoyed being able to spend quality time with my family and on the ranch, but it is time to get back to work” said McKee. “I am very happy to join PBR Now and continue to be a contributing member of the PBR family as the sport grows.”
“It’s been different watching PBR from the other side of the television set, but I think the new broadcast and competition format are great,” he added. “I appreciate the fans who have reached out to let me know I am missed, but I’m excited about some of the new projects we’ll be doing and what the next chapter holds for the sport and our great fans.”
McKee’s first assignment will be hosting a special 90 minute show on RFD-TV on Thursday, Feb. 10, 9:30 p.m. ET previewing the Dickies® Iron Cowboy Invitational presented by WinStar World Casino. He will be joined by popular PBR Now hosts J.W. Hart and Justin McBride, who also work as color commentators on PBR BFTS television broadcasts.
McKee will then join Brandon Bates and Clint Adkins in arena for the special event at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Feb. 19. Tickets for the 2011 Dickies Iron Cowboy Invitational are still available, starting at just $20, by going to http://www.Ticketmaster.com or by calling (800) 745-3000.
McKee will work with the PBR in select television, digital media, and live events throughout the 2011 season. His complete schedule will be announced at a later date.
PBR Now is produced and broadcast by RFD-TV in cooperation with the PBR. PBR and RFD-TV continue to work on scheduling and logistics issues in an effort to bring the popular show back as a weekly offering on the network. In the interim, additional specials are being discussed and will be announced at a later date.
“We appreciate our fans interest in PBR Now,” said PBR President and COO Sean Gleason. “The relationship between the PBR and RFD-TV remains strong, and we’re working together to keep PBR Now available as a regular offering on RFD-TV.”
“RFD-TV is thrilled to have the opportunity to bring PBR fans this special edition of PBR Now on RFD-TV previewing the Dickies Iron Cowboy Invitational,” says Kelly Kantz, General Manager and Vice President of RFD-TV. “We hope our viewers will show their support for this programming by tuning in and we look forward to finding a way to continue airing PBR Now for the sport’s loyal fans.”
Now here’s the between-the-lines meaning, from yours truly, a journalist and former publicist:
That press release translates to, We’re keeping Justin as invisible to the TV audience as possible. It also sounds like he doesn’t have a contract. It’s clear that the PBR does not value him.
This announcement means virtually zilch in terms of reinstating McKee, for several reasons:
1. RFD-TV has a very limited reach, and most people tune into Versus to watch the PBR. The “R” in RFD stands for rural, as in, “Rural America’s Most Important Network.” Versus reaches nearly twice as many homes as RFD-TV, and is carried by most cable systems.
2. In-arena announcers rarely get on-camera time, and their job isn’t equivalent to “color commentators.” And if McKee isn’t colorful, I don’t know who is.
3. Justin’s quotes are formulaic corporate-speak that people are required to use when they don’t want to make waves. Nobody talks like that.
Leah has disappeared, as far as we can see. If Leah wants a different schedule, let her choose the events she wants to cover. Why should she “split the season with Erin,” who has no experience, no knowledge of the sport, and is a terrible interviewer? Garcia’s a pro, Coscarelli is embarrassing, and thousands of other people could do her job better. I’m very surprised that the PBR is settling for looking amateurish. I thought the goal was to go mainstream.
The PBR never explained its moves and never responded to fans. This announcement isn’t a response to viewers, it’s a flimsy attempt at diverting the pressure. No, thanks. We’ll keep pressuring. Fair warning: two people posting to my blog recently suggested contacting the PBR sponsors about the situation.
I’ll respond to Patterson, and for those who would like to contact the PBR execs and Board directly, here’s their contact information:
Jeffrey Pollack, Executive Chairman
Sean Gleason, President and Chief Operating Officer
M. Dockery Clark, Chief Marketing Officer
Kevin Camper, Chief Partnership & Sales Officer
Jay Daugherty, Senior VP of Competition
All of the above are at:
103 W Riverwalk
Pueblo, CO 81003
Andrew J. Armstrong, Jr.
David K Schaible (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Richard H Patterson (email@example.com
All three are at:
Spire Capital Partners, LLC
New York, New York 10036
Thomas L Teague
Teague Bucking Bulls
Turkey Crossing Farms
P. O. Box 24788
Winston-Salem, NC 27114-4788
PLEASE KEEP THE PETITION CIRCULATING — I’ll send off the second batch of signatures soon.