Mass Comm grad a pro at shooting the bull

Keith Ryan Cartwright

Keith Ryan Cartwright

Keith Ryan Cartwright might not wear cowboy boots or a Stetson, but this pro writer is submerged in the world of the most dangerous sport on earth – professional bull riding.

A 2001 graduate of the College of Mass Communication with a major in journalism, Cartwright is a senior writer for the Professional Bull Riders Inc. and has co-authored a book about the sport, “The Official Guide to the Toughest Sport on Earth.”

 Cartwright claims this original extreme sport is the most dangerous and calling it that is not just a mere marketing ploy. It’s the truth. “This is as real as it gets. This should not be taken lightly,” Cartwright said.

The PBR attracts more than 1.5 million people to events each year, and the sport continues to grow.

Before working with the PBR, Cartwright said bull riding wasn’t part of his world. Between his days of writing for MTSU’s Sidelines and what he does today, Cartwright interviewed and wrote about scores of interesting individuals for publications such as The Tennessean,, American Cowboy and Country Weekly. At one point in his freelance-writing career, Cartwright wrote for 17 publications at the same time. He claimed that he was a “beat writer to the extreme.”

While later working as a television producer producing top-rated videos for CMT and consulting with Rolling Stone cover writer and idol David Wild, he found his interests turning back to his love of writing and sports. “I enjoy doing TV, but I’m a writer,” Cartwright said.

When offered the opportunity to write for and, he explained he didn’t really know much about the extreme sport, but could write about people and write about them well. Cartwright described himself as storyteller, and through his storytelling, he has gotten to know and earned the respect of individuals whose stories he has shared.

This was his ticket to Colorado and the PBR four and a half years ago.

“Four years ago, I never would have thought I would be writing and talking about professional bull riding.  Now, I can’t imagine that I would ever not wake up and talk about professional bull riding,” Cartwright explained.

Working with PBR takes Cartwright all over the nation, as well as to Canada and Brazil for events such as the Built Ford Tough Series. He travels 30 weeks out of a year to 28-30 events, reporting from NBA and NHL arenas filled with bucking bulls and riders.

Cartwright said he learned most of the ins and outs of the once foreign sport from the individual bull riders he’s interviewed.

“I know their kids and wives. I know who they are as people, as men. Professional bull riders are about as real as you can find. They always have an answer,” Cartwright said.

Professional bull riding is Cartwright’s world, but he’s not interested in getting on a bucking animal himself. He said that is for the elite athletes he knows and respects, not for him. “I don’t wear boots or a hat,” Cartwright confided. “I haven’t earned the right to wear a cowboy hat.” TLE

By Ansley Owen

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Categories: Alumni, News

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