The talented and inspirational Bobbi LeAnn is my first guest blogger.
I know you will find this blog as inspirational as I did!
As far back as I can remember, I have always had a performance personality. My love for music was passed down from many generations on my dad’s side. At the age of 5, I started tagging along with my dad to band practice every Wednesday night. Singing and playing everything from Glen Campbell, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash and whole lot of Waylon and Willy. By eight o’clock, I would crash on the couch, but I was sure to be up by nine thirty for our weekly “after practice DQ run!” After years of practicing with the boys, I was excited to finally get to go on the road and perform! Dad and I would make our Tour Dates at local nursing homes, senior centers, jamborees, music contests, and where ever there was an open space to call our stage, we were there. The thrill and adrenaline of being on stage, in front of people, and showing off what I truly loved flowed through my body. My mom would often catch me singing in the living room while I would be working on my “entertainment” skills with her recorder and insisted on making CDs and DVDs to hand out to her family and friends. During my younger years of performance, my younger brother and sister and I would decorate our basement as the Grand Ole Opry. We put up a stage, unrolled an old cut out of old red carpet for our isle, set out chairs for our fans, and I will never forget sneaking the baby powder out of the bathroom to serve as our fog machine. We would pass out tickets to our parents and family friends to attend and enjoy the singing performance of Bobbi LeAnn, gymnastics routine by Brandi Walters, and serval magic tricks by Blake Walters. It is safe to say that no one came from our show without a few spots of “fog” on their clothes and faces.
Along with my passion for music, I could say that I was also blessed with a very creative and entrepreneurial mind. It was during the summer of my fifth grade year that I started my own in- home radio station. I set up a cd and tape player in my room and took music requests from my family. I would fill each commercial break with a wrap up on dad and I’s latest shows, relay the upcoming show dates, even fill in with made up ads for local business in my community, and a daily bible devotional. Although the listening area of my radio station was only our family home, that was were my love for story telling and broadcast media and journalism began.
Fast forward to my high school years. It was then that I participated in almost every extra curricular activity from the school musical to cheerleading, all seasonal sports, FCCLA, show choir to college credited courses. I can still remember the day that I went into my high school counselors office and asking if there was a chance that I could take summer school classes my junior year of high school to free up my senior year schedule to fill it with music classes. After weeks of talking, it was passed and my senior year schedule included choir, band, show choir, and music theory. You could say it was the greatest year of high school classes. My senior year went by very quickly and it wasn’t long before I was in a white gown and hat receiving my diploma.
It was only a few weeks after graduation that I loaded up my parents dodge pickup with my belongings and pointed our wheels south to Nashville, Tennessee. After a full day’s worth of driving, we unloaded at the very top of music row at Belmont University. The campus I would call home for the next three years!! The campus was arranged with beautiful flowers, architectural buildings, and best of all, music was everywhere! Heck I even lived on THE MUSIC ROW. How could life get any better? I could hardly stand the anticipation of waiting for classes to start and finally getting to meet my track and field team members. (Yes, I was a college track athlete, participating in pole vault and soon after recruited for throwing. Division 1 athlete to boot! I was so anxious to compete against the big dogs!) As my freshman year went on, I continued to feel lost. I hadn’t seen my family in months, my long distance relationship was struggling, and most importantly, I missed my small town, dirt roads, and isolation. It was then that I decided to transfer to a school in Nebraska.
The same day that I gave my notice and sent my transcripts to Doane University, my roommates and I sat in my room reading my journal. Over water and a box of Life cereal, we read through every entry and covered topics about school, boys, sports, music, and whatever other life event occurred in the past 5 years. At the end of the night, we came up on a journal entry that had a list of goals and dreams. As I read through the entry and read out the list, I quickly found myself in an emotional mess. Every bullet listed on that page, I had accomplished within the short few months of living in Nashville except two, starting a cowboy church ministry and my own tv show. That night when I laid down in bed, the wheels in my mind were spinning out of control. I woke up the next morning to one of the most amazing dreams ever. I ran to my track and field coach and told him to cancel the transfer because I was staying in Nashville. I needed to complete the next things on my goal list. Over the next two weeks, I went to class and practice but I couldn’t concentrate on what was happening around me. All I could thing about was the dream I had that night after reading my journal. Therefore without hesitation, I called a great friend of mine back home, Jim Wakefield, and told him every little detail. He was every bit of motivation and inspiration I needed. He encouraged me to come home and plan an event and get the ball rolling on this dream.
Over the next few weeks, I focused every ounce of extra time on planning my cowboy church concert and tv show ideas. A few weeks later, my extra time spent on planning my ideas would become part of my entrepreneur class work. I turned my planning process into a business model and creative piece for my project final. There was a week left of class when our professor told us that the individual with the best presentation would receive an A+ in the class as well as a scholarship for pursing their business over the summer. Over that next week, I woke up early in the morning and went to bed late at night as I polished up my final presentation. Presentation day quickly approached and I was the most excited student in the class. When my name was called to the front of the room, I confidently pulled up my powerpoint and discussed very detail in my plan. That next morning, I opened my email and found the greatest message! I had scored the highest on my presentation, received an A+ in the class AND a scholarship to purse my business over the summer. It was during my project planning, I came into contact with two great ladies in Texas who encouraged me beyond belief! They began to talk with me about moving to Texas over the summer and to purse my passions there. After getting the scholarship opportunity, I couldn’t say no! As soon as finals wrapped up, I packed my car full of my belongings and headed to Texas to purse my cowboy church ministries.
Texas was full of opportunity! I was blessed with the friendship of some of the most humble human beings LeAnn Hart, Lenzi Holmes, April Bach-Patterson, and several others. I spent days working with April and her magazine Rodeo Fame, traveling to PBR events with LeAnn, scheduling Sunday cowboy church services and hanging out with my Mary Kay girls! At the end of the summer, I was given with the opportunity to sing the National Anthem at the College National Finals Rodeo, sing on the midway at Nebraska’s Big Rodeo, and even put out my first EP. To say the dream that I couldn’t get out of my head was life changing is an understatement!
After my summer in Texas came to an end, I headed back to Nashville to finish up my college education. My last semester, I filled out job application after job application. I researched everything from rodeo, agriculture, and cowboy churches in the Nashville area however nothing was coming up. Quite frankly, I thought my run in Nashville was over. However, a month before graduation, I ran across a press release that mentioned that the RFD-TV Studios would be moving to Music Row. WHAT! I couldn’t believe what I had just read. I had found my saving grace! I applied and interviewed for any available position. This was my chance to stay in Nashville and enjoy the agriculture and western lifestyle. A month later, I got confirmation that I had received the position with RFD-TV.
While at RFD I helped with everything from answering the phones, programming, writing feature stories for the magazine, helping with events, RFD-TVs the American and everything in between. My love for entertainment and broadcast journalism just grew 10 fold. However, the time I spent being a gypsy, traveling between Tennessee and Texas wore on me. I missed my family more than anything.
I packed my belongings and headed back to Nebraska to begin my career at a local news station, News Channel Nebraska. Working as an account executive, I serviced advertising accounts for several clients and companies and got to know my new community very well. I very much enjoyed the client interaction, yet I still craved being in front of the camera. Each night after work, I went home, and added new ideas and concepts to my tv show idea that I had dreamt about my freshman year of college.
My show idea was Nebraska oriented and there was no better timing then now show my boss my idea. Over lunch and coffee, I presented the station’s owner my tv show idea and business plan of highlighting rodeo across Nebraska. Although he wasn’t familiar with the western sports industry he jumped on board and gave me a shot! In fact, he wanted the show to air a week after my presentation. SAY WHAT!? I knew exactly where I would be the next 7 days after work… at my computer editing the interviews, story footage, rodeo updates that I had just filmed that weekend. This could be my only chance to showcase my love for Nebraska and rodeo that I had dreamed up for the past 5 years, Good Life Western Sports.
The next 7 days were brutal! Editing, finding sponsorships and filling commercial space, to continuing my full time job as an account executive and planning the company’s first big LIVE community forum broadcasted over all their channels and online. To say I was busy and exhausted is a complete understatement, but I made it through. By the show’s first first air time, everything for the show was complete and the first episode was a success! After the first airing, I started receiving messages from fan spilling out their hearts. They were so excited to finally see their grandchildren, children, nieces, nephews, and friends on tv being interviewed and updating on their last competed rodeo. I even received messages from people who tuned in or saw me around at their rodeo catching footage or doing interviews. And a few angry messages from fans when the show was preempted or when it didn’t start right at 6:30pm. But the best were from messages that Good Life Western Sports was the best show on the station. About 6 weeks in, the station owner sat down with me to discuss pulling the show. He didn’t agree that the show was catching speed, in fact he could only name a handful of people he knew who actually watched it. With a great deal of convincing, and showing him the messages that I received, I was able to keep the show on through the entirety of the sponsorships, August 31, 2017.
As time went on, situations within the office began to grow and left me feeling unappreciated. There were nights that I had pulled back to back all nighters, drove dang near across the state for station events, my work week hours bled into my personal weekends (months in a row), and more importantly I hadn’t seen my own family in months. Being closer to my family was my main reason for moving back to Nebraska, and the one time I saw them, I slept all day because I was exhausted!
Over many nights of tears and frustration, I decided to quit my job at the tv station, however, the Good Life Western Sports would continue through the end of August as agreed upon. June 25, 2017 will forever be the game changer I needed! After my final day of work, I headed to the Greeley Days Rodeo. There I helped my boyfriend, rodeo announcer Jared Slagle, with music. While I was there, I was able to catch a few minutes of footage of the Sam Foltz’s family receiving a award on his behalf from the Greeley Rodeo Committee. The few minutes I was able to catch I put on the internet. I woke up the next morning to several social media notifications and messages. The video received over 100,000 views and over 10,000 shares. For a poke like me with only 1,000 Facebook followers, the video went viral! SAY WHAT! The same day I quit my job, I had a viral video! I couldn’t be more proud! The next day while waiting for the rodeo to start, the stock contractors and I got together to film a funny story regarding one of the contractor’s help. By rodeo time, Good Life Western Sports had hit another milestone. We had a second viral video! I couldn’t wait to put together the show for the next week and for the station to finally see that we had two viral videos! After a few nights and several long hours, the show was ready to be sent off! When Wednesday rolled around, my phone started pinging non stop with messages like “Where is this week’s show?, Why is is not on again!? What the heck is going on?” I called the station and to my disbelief, they had preempted the show AGAIN! I was so fed up! I couldn’t wait for August 31st to be here!
Ultimately, I wanted my show to end on an internet platform and be online and available to anyone at anytime. So in the meantime of waiting for August 31st to get here. I put my thoughts down on paper on how to grow after. September 1st, I executed. In the months following, Good Life Western Sports has more than tripled its reach and I started my own media company. Today, Good Life Western Sports is seen on multiple platforms across the United States and is the premier source of everything rodeo Nebraska. Right now, all I can say is, GET READY because there is more to come!
Bobbi LeAnn all I can say is WOW! Actually what I can say is as I was putting this on my blog I did so with tears rolling down my face!
This blog has inspired me in so many ways!! I hope to all of you who have read this amazing inspirational blog of Bobbi LeAnn’s life; you will be encouraged as well.
To learn more about Bobbi LeAnn and follow her dreams like and follow her at the following links.
@goodlifewesternsports – Instagram
@glwesternsports – Twitter
Good Life Western Sports – Podcast
Dream Catcher 3:20