Bobby Estell, professionally known as Bobby Bones, will receive an honorary doctorate degree during the University of Arkansas commencement ceremony on May 14 at Bud Walton Arena. Estell is a popular American radio and television personality and two-time New York Times bestselling author whose passion, dedication and philanthropy for the benefit of the U of A and his home state has grown over the years.
According to the University, even though Estell was not able to attend the U of A due to financial and family circumstances early in his life, Estell is now one of the most recognizable and firm supporters of the university and its mission.
“Attending the University of Arkansas wasn’t within reach for me growing up, and I could have never imagined that something like this would ever happen,” Estell said. “I have always been a devoted, and maybe even obnoxious, Razorback fan and supporter. I’m thankful to everyone at the University of Arkansas, and just hope they don’t change their minds.”
Bobby Estell, an Arkansas native and lifelong Razorback supporter, is well known for hosting the The Bobby Bones Show, the most listened to country music show in the nation and regular interview stop for top country music stars and celebrities. He also serves as the host and executive producer of National Geographic television series, Breaking Bobby Bones.
He also served as the in-house mentor on ABC’s American Idol for four seasons and was the winner of Season 27 of Dancing With The Stars. With his platform, Estell has continued to promote both the U of A and the State of Arkansas.
Estell was born in Hot Springs and raised in the small community of Mountain Pine by his mother and maternal grandmother. Estell said from a young age, he dreamed of a radio career as a way to escape childhood poverty and started his radio career in Central Arkansas on 105.9 KLAZ. His upbringing not only impacted him professionally, but also drove him to help others, particularly in Arkansas.
He is the youngest-ever inductee to the National Radio Hall of Fame and is a two-time CMA Award and four-time ACM Award winner. Estell has also found a niche in the book industry, authoring two New York Times No. 1 Best-Sellers, I’m Not Lonely If You’re Reading This Book and Fail Until You Don’t. He currently has a children’s book on the way titled A Dog Named Stanley.
Estell is a major benefactor of The Razorback Foundation as a member of the “Cardinal and White,” the organization’s giving initiative to support student-athlete scholarships and other expenses. Estell also buys shoes for kids on the Mountain Pine basketball team as well as the school’s football uniforms, and awards annual scholarships to selected students.
He has raised over $16.25 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and has also led charitable efforts for multiple causes, including natural disaster relief, COVID-19, frontline workers, veteran care and support and more. He has also partnered with Purina to bring awareness to the benefits of service dogs in helping veterans with PTSD and other post-combat challenges.
Estell currently resides in Nashville, Tenn., with his wife, Caitlin Parker.