“The cowboy in the truck” Chad Prather launched into social media’s sphere long after he made his very first tongue-in-cheek video. Today, this family man and lifelong entertainer is ready to step out of the truck and to bigger projects.
By Kate Bradley Byars
Millions of dedicated fans tuned in weekly—sometimes daily—to hear outspoke Texan Chad Prather muse about life in general, relevant social topics and more from the cab of his white Dodge truck. Yet, the bulk of his life is spent outside his vehicular studio, enjoying the company of his wife and five children or on the road speaking to non-profit groups and entertaining audiences with his cowboy comedy tour.
Growing up in rural Georgia, Chad knew his future lay in entertainment. He took a winding road to get there, finally finding himself under the hot stage lights and star of viral Facebook videos, but each experience helped him achieve the goal of a Will Rogers-esque entertainment career. Today, his outlook on the Western lifestyle comes to those that see him speak through humor and sharp turns of phrase.
“I always had an affection and affinity for the Western culture, which is what I shaped my humor around because it is what I grew up with,” he said. “I kind of patterned my entertainment career after Will Rogers. Of course, Will Rogers had a strong outlook on the Western lifestyle in speaking to a lot of topics like politics and Western humor. We all see and deal with different trials in life, and I want to tell those short stories in such a way that everyone can relate to them.”
Relatability is perhaps the No. 1 reason fans keep flocking back to Chad’s social media pages. He understands how to work hard, the challenges and rewards of parenting, and can speak from his own equine experience in a way that draws you in to the story. It’s been a sharp rise from Facebook famous to a social media phenom, but Chad is taking it in stride, sticking to his roots and preparing for the future.
Making of the Man
Pastor Wade Trimmer moved to Augusta, Georgia, in 1975 to head up the Second Baptist Church. It was there he met 4-year-old Chad and his parents, Pete and Gloria. While neither knew it at the time, both would become influential in the other’s life.
“Chad has always been sharp witted and always a practical joker,” Wade recalled. “He grew up in the church where I was pastor and came back after college to be a youth director at the church for a period of time. We spent a lot of time together.”
Chad’s values and belief system were shaped by his parents, his grandparents and his pastor. The family worked with horses at their ranch, which is now located in Camden, South Carolina. His passion for entertaining was a self-motivated goal.
The future comedian and entertainer first stepped in front of a camera at 2 years old, when he recited the biblical story of David and Goliath on a local television station. From there, Chad found the spotlight on the athletic field and as a member of his school’s theater group competing in one-act plays. He attended Columbia International University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in business/corporate communications. After college, he returned home to serve as a youth director in Wade’s church.
Of all Chad’s experiences, he says the trips abroad as a youth director rocked his world and shaped his mindset most.
“[Wade] and I wound up traveling the world together for a number of years, working in third-world countries training [religious] leaders,” Chad said. “The first trip we went on together was in 1994, right after the fall of Communism in Russia. It was not a happy place. From there to Nigeria and West Africa and Central America, I was able to see that, in America, we do pretty well.”
Unbeknownst to him, Chad would one day draw upon his experiences in third world countries to reach audiences in a meaningful manner. To this day, Wade says he can hear Chad influencing his audience with some of the messages they spread in those early years.
In 2008, Chad began to work with W.W. Grainger, a national industrial supply company, as an account manager. Traveling for sales spoke to his gypsy soul and allowed him to amass additional life experiences from which to draw observations.
“Everywhere I’ve gone [in my travels] has been in a role where I’ve had the opportunity to teach, train, motivate or inspire,” Chad said. “I’ve always been a multi-career guy. Most of my work seemingly didn’t have much to do with each other. But I see myself as a renaissance man and can speak to many topics based on these seemingly random experiences.”
Humor was always a fall back for Chad to convey these inspirational messages, and he turned to it to present his ideas to the world in a short video series called “Chad’s Church.”
Famous in a Truck Cab
Death. Fear. Facing obstacles. These topics aren’t easy to tackle, but in his first videos for “Chad’s Church,” the orator wasn’t looking to take the easy road. Instead, he wanted to discuss topics from a faith-based angle.
“I wanted a catchy title that got people’s attention,” Chad said. “Then, I wanted to inspire them.”
Along the way of cultivating his flock of fans, Chad caught the attention of RIDE TV, a network dedicated to showcasing the horse culture and lifestyle. In late 2013, he went to the company to screen test for a show in development.
“RIDE TV reached out to me in late 2013 about a show that was Sports Center-style for equine events. I would be behind the desk and reporting. They realized it would not be a good fit for me or my personality,” he said. “The other idea was for ‘It’s My Backyard.’ [The show] put me on the streets showcasing equine events across the country. We did three seasons and had a phenomenal time.”
The RIDE TV partnership allowed Chad to hone his on-camera skills and travel to equine events, reconnecting with that part of his early life. Chad integrated his equine background into the show, as “My Backyard” journeyed to cities that host major equine events, like the Denver Polo Club in Colorado, and Las Vegas, Nevada, for the World Series of Team Roping.
“It was fun! If we are not having fun, I just can’t do it,” Chad said. “Most of what I do is tongue-in-cheek. With me, you gotta have fun.”
That mind set kick-started Chad’s next series of humorous videos. Using Facebook as a video outlet, his humor often came from time spent sitting in traffic. In 2014, Chad first turned on his truck cam for a heart-to-heart talk with viewers.
This is an excerpt from the full article—get the whole story in the Spring 2017 Chrome magazine, which is sent to all current APHA members. Not a member? Join or renew at apha.com/join.
Catch Chad in his most popular videos below