Wednesday, March 21, 2007

NASCAR Now: Dougie In The House!

Doug Banks seems like a very nice guy, and he has a ton of potential for hosting NASCAR Now. Its clear that he is comfortable on-the-air, and his enthusiasm is a welcome change from the high volume and cold mannerisms of Erik Kuselias.

The one thing that Doug does not know, is NASCAR. With the top story being Mark Martin not going to Bristol, the Producer of NASCAR Now made the decision not to bring in help for Mr. Banks. It was unfair to put Banks on the spot while trying to interview Regan Smith live. His questions were amateurish at best, and he left the meat of the issues about Bristol laying on the table untouched. He said bad things, like the COT has "never been driven." Of course, SPEED Channel actually covered the COT testing at Bristol in-depth. With the huge staff of experts on-hand at ESPN, how can the show host continue to be put in this awkward position?

Marty Smith should have been the first interview out-of-the blocks when the show started. Smith is the ultimate "Insider," and he needs to be included on the show regularly. If Marty Smith had been allowed to interview Regan Smith, we would have gotten a lot of scoop, and some good solid race talk. Maybe Marty needs to be given a studio presence more often.

Doug Banks next interview, again alone, was Matt Kenseth. Banks read his questions, Kenseth gave his political sponsor-driven answers, and things moved along. ESPN's Stacy Compton then appeared to talk about Chevy having a good year so far, but Compton should have done the Kenseth interview. Who is not getting the concept that the show host does not interview? Even in the 1980's, Brent Musburger threw to Irv Cross for the NFL interviews on CBS. This is not a new concept in sports television...walk down the hall and ask Brent.

Banks is photogenic, well-mannered, and the type of face the sport needs. But, as I mentioned in my post of March 7th, there is a big difference in what people really know, and what ESPN "says" they know. Simply by providing Mr. Banks the experts to handle the interviews and analysis, NASCAR Now could begin to right its ship and become the flagship NASCAR TV program that ESPN intended it to be.

If things continue at this pace, John Kernan should expect his phone to be ringing pretty soon. As the NASCAR season hits full-stride, the Connecticut-based production team will be hard pressed to get their arms around the stories and news that the entire NASCAR community generates. They have already shunned the regional series, the off-track activities, and the special family stories that this sport shows-off so well. With no email, no live phone calls, no on-camera questions, and no webcam videos, the other thing that NASCAR Now has the fans. But, we can wait until they get this first mess straightened out.