Patrick Gottsch Dies: Founder Of The Cowboy Channel And RFD-TV Was 70

Patrick Gottsch Dies: Founder Of The Cowboy Channel And RFD-TV Was 70

Patrick Gottsch, who dedicated his life to promoting and growing the rural and western way of life, died on Saturday, May 18, at the Fort Worth Stockyards. He was 70 and no cause was given.

Gottsch founded The Cowboy Channel in 2017, which became the Official Network of ProRodeo. Since Tuesday, The Cowboy Channel has been broadcasting a nightly 30-minute special on Gottsch’s life and career, with a one-hour telecast planned on Friday evening.

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Yellowstone and 1883 creator Taylor Sheridan issued a statement.

“Patrick Gottsch was a pioneer and visionary in every sense of the word. He created a central entertainment and information outlet that became an essential tool in the lives of all who work in agriculture and live in rural America. He brought horsemanship into the living rooms of America through exposure to clinicians such as Clinton Anderson, Chris Cox, and Ken McNabb. He was a tireless and stalwart protector of the rancher and farmer — our business endeavors, our pastimes, our passions, and our beliefs. Through RFD and The Cowboy Channel, Patrick provided representation to a vastly underserved and essential demographic that is the very bedrock of this nation.

“While Yellowstone receives much praise for bringing rural America into the public zeitgeist, Yellowstone stands on the shoulders of Patrick’s creation. Patrick had a vision, and more importantly he had the tenacity to make that vision a reality. We have all benefitted from that realization, which lives on in his honor. Rest in Peace, Cowboy.”

Other condolences were sent by Jen Landon from Yellowstone, Garth Brooks and Dolly Parton.

Patrick Gene Gottsch was born on June 3, 1953 in Omaha, Nebraska. He briefly attended Sam Houston University on a baseball scholarship. After stints as a farmer and commodities broker, a chance meeting led him to establish his own company installing satellite dishes.

Customer feedback on the lack of rural-interest programming led him to start RFD-TV, which delivered six full hours of live news, markets, weather and agribusiness features. The business struggled to get carriage, and eventually went bankrupt.

He moved to Fort Worth, Texas, to work in the historic Ft. Worth Stockyards as the Director of Sales for Superior Livestock Auction. He was encouraged by Superior’s founder, Jim Odle, that his idea of a 24/7 network dedicated to rural America was a great one. In 1996, he left Superior to relaunch RFD-TV.

Every investor he pitched the network to said it was a “stupid idea” and that “farmers don’t watch TV.” Eventually, Charlie Ergen, the founder of Dish Network, told Gottsch that the 1992 Cable Act mandates satellite companies to reserve a few channels for educational or informational programming. Since providing rural news and education on agricultural interests was clearly informational, he told Gottsch to form a nonprofit, and he would give him one channel.

Seizing this opportunity, Gottsch put together a hard drive full of rural content, much of which was already airing in local markets, including Texas Country Reporter, U.S. Farm Report, California Country, Georgia Farm Monitor, Big Joe Polka Show, Ag PhD, classic horse shows and others. Despite having no studio, no employees and no money, he launched RFD-TV on Dish Network on December 15, 2000. The experimental format of four networks in one—agriculture, equine, music, and rural lifestyle—proved to be a success.

In 2007, RFD-TV switched to a for-profit network, providing Gottsch with new opportunities.

Among his accomplishments: He opened a theatre in Branson, Missouri in 2006, where The Beach Boys and Willie Nelson performed. He secured an agreement with radio personality Don Imus to simulcast Imus in the Morning in 2007. He launched Rural Radio on Sirius XM and broke the Guinness World Record for largest Pick-Up Truck Parade at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2013. Along with Randy Bernard, he crowned the first $1 million cowboy at The American Rodeo in 2014.

In 2017, Gottsch launched The Cowboy Channel, which became the Official Network of ProRodeo.

He is survived by his wife, Angie, and their daughter, Rose; his daughter Raquel, her husband, Sean, and their children, Case and Carson; his daughter, Gatsby, her husband, David, and their children, Eleanor and Sylvan; his sister, Terri, her husband, Dan, and their children, Chuck and Dillon; his sister, Tammy, her husband, Al, and their children, Andrea, Sara, and Nick; his sister, Toni, her husband, Tom, and their children, T.J. and Samantha; his brother, Mickey, his fiancé, Julie, and his children, Devon and Nolan; and countless cousins, friends and colleagues.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in his name to the National FFA Foundation in Gottsch’s honor and put “In Memorial of Patrick Gottsch.”


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