Saturday, June 2, 2007

Suzy Kolber And Brad Daugherty Are The Ultimate Odd Couple


Over the course of this season, fans have watched the infield studio portion of ESPN's Busch Series coverage go through a painful series of changes. ESPN is trying to put together the pieces of their NEXTEL Cup pre-race show which they will begin later this year. In essence, the NASCAR Countdown for the Busch Series races is a continual audition.

Suzy Kolber has been a designated hitter for ESPN since her career began. Veteran ESPN viewers may remember her involvement in the original debut of ESPN2, which featured a "hip and cool" look and feel that was supposed to appeal to the younger generation. It went over like a lead balloon, and forced the network to change itself completely into what it is now, a nameless extension of the "mothership" of ESPN.

Kolber is a veteran broadcaster and has been used in a wide variety of roles. She is smart enough to be one step ahead of the former hosts of NASCAR Countdown Chris Fowler, Brent Musburger, and Erik Kuselias. These three tried to pass themselves off as knowledgeable about NASCAR, only to be exposed as stick-and-ball guys who just happened to be at the track. Give Kolber credit, she understands that asking questions is the way to go in her early shows. Unfortunately, there is a limit to just how many questions should be asked by a host who is supposed to know the sport.

Dr. Jerry Punch, Andy Petree, and the pit road gang did their usual solid job of clicking off the qualifying times, and putting the information out to the viewers. Kolber, Dale Jarrett, and Brad Daugherty were on hand in the infield studio, and tried to establish their credibility throughout the qualifying session. It was a tough sell to viewers.

Daugherty and Kolber were attired in shocking red shirts that did not lend themselves to the cameras, or the background. This was a departure from the suit-and-tie attire that the anchors and analysts on this program have appeared in this season. Dale Jarrett, fresh from practice, was in his UPS driver's suit, and appeared to need a Gatorade.

As the session wore on, the ESPN Producer tried to insert the infield studio gang into the coverage more often. This led to a very interesting example of what ESPN needs to deal with before the NEXTEL Cup season begins. Alongside Dale Jarrett, Daugherty is completely out-of-place. Not one comment in this qualifying session contained anything other than the obvious topics that were already being discussed. He often repeated exactly what DJ had said, which made him appear to be woefully short on the type of in-depth NASCAR knowledge that this role requires.

Kolber adapted a role that was clearly the only solution to her situation. She became the questioner, and spent the entire time asking poor old Dale Jarrett everything under the sun about anything she could think up. Most of it was so fundamental that DJ just kindly replied, and then waited for the next question. That usually came almost immediately.

This approach allowed Kolber to make it through the qualifying session with no problems, but that is not going to set her up for the NASCAR Countdown show which will follow shortly. We certainly wish her all the best, as this high-profile position is not going to be helped by Brad Daugherty, and is only going to be further complicated by the impending arrival of Brent Musburger as "the host."

NASCAR Countdown is coming up, and we will be watching. ESPN is today going to be offering their all-star NASCAR crew to the TV audience for the first time, and it should be an interesting experience.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below, or email editor@thedalyplanet.tv if you wish not to be published. Thanks again for taking the time to stop by.

15 comments:

Sal said...

ESPN is making it abundantly clear that they got into Nascar for the money only. Their inability to find competant help to host their shows proves they have little concern for racing, fans, or even adequate race coverage. They have followed the Fox 'racertainment' guidelines, following a preconceived 'script' for each race, rather than showing what happens on the track. Shots of isolated cars running without the perspective of where they are in relation to others robs the coverage of any real drama. Since they don't seem to care what cars cross the finish line in what order (beyond the winner, of course), why should we bother with their coverage?

Jeff Marcosky said...

ALAN BESTWICK! Alan knows the sport and wowed em last week on "NASCAR NOW!" and Brad Daugherty? please, nice try pal. Put Alan in the chair with someone credtable, who knows the sport and can put a sentence together and you have a winner.

Anonymous said...

I watch the pre-race show when nothing else is on. I thought that ESPN was directing it toward the caual listener who didn't want wonky answers. Yesterday, the lady was looking at notes to determine the names to put into the questions that she asked Jarrett. I like Brad, and he has been an owner, but he does not need to pretend he knows things he doesn't.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that as controlling as NASCAR can be about their productions, they don't take a more active role in the coverage the networks provide. Clearly NASCAR thought ESPN would provide the same level of coverage they did in the 90's. It's time for Brian France and company to wake up and get this fixed.

Anonymous said...

So Nascar is not worried about TV ratings??? This group should really help the situation. Nothing against them; they just know ZIP about racing!!!!

Anonymous said...

Please GOD can we have Allen Bestwick and Jerry Punch in the broadcast studio???

Anonymous said...

ALAN BESTWICK was terrific!!! Keep him on as host. He is the very best. The others dribble like babies. If Alan is going to be the host, I will continue to watch, if not, your loss in ratings.

Anonymous said...

The only time NASCAR will be concerned about the coverage is if there is something said about them that is "detrimental to stock car racing". They could care less what the fans see, just so long as NASCAR's payment checks from the networks clear the bank. They have said they aren't worried about the ratings on more than one occasion. So when the ratings totally tank and the races are shown on ESPN 99, then maybe they'll worry.

Anonymous said...

Part of the problem is that ESPN has caught Fox's overproduction disease. NASCAR coverage got along fine without an infield studio for decades. The play-by-play guy and color men should be enough to bring you the event -- but no, the networks try to bring you much more than that. It's about the racing, people, and the Hollywood Hotel and other infield studio trailers should be sent to Watkins Glen and set afire in The Bog.

Anonymous said...

ESPN needs to hire Lindsay Czarniak. TNT uses her for 6 Cup races. She lost her job on the "George Michael Sports Machine" when George pulled the plug on the show over budget/staffing cuts that NBC had been threatening. Lindsay is extremely knowledgeable about NASCAR as well as stick & ball sports. She's got a nice voice & is easy on the eyes. She was never utilized enough on SPEED's ARCA coverage.

I'd like to see Allen Bestwick in the booth & Dr Jerry Punch on pitroad.

ESPN needs to dump the majority of their so-called on-air "talent" ... Just keep Allen, Dr Punch, Rusty, Petree, Burns & Yocum ... Add in Lindsay and John Kernan ... Then maybe just maybe they might be able to have competent racecasts ...

Anonymous said...

The Twiddle Dee- Twiddle Dumb show has got to GO! I watch these two buffoons and they make me long for Brent "Basketball" Musburger. Their lack of knowledge and ability is harmful to Nascar, its fans and sponsors. I don't object to new faces broadcasting Nascar, although Bob Jenkins led a great team when ESPN first broadcast Nascar, but at least they could have got two knowledgeable fans to do it. These two seem like they got lost from the Sportscenter set and are talking about Nascar between baseball and basketball stories. Their lack of passion and understanding of the sport makes me yearn for SpeedTV. When I see them, I let the kids watch Nickelodeon.

Mike

Anonymous said...

As a long time NASCAR Fan, this is a difficult decision but if Brent "I talk way too much about things I know nothing about" Musberger is going to be the host, I've just watched my last NASCAR race on TV. I will listen to it on Sirius and get the PRN/MRN guys real take on the racing and not some goofy overproduced special interest story that could be about an ice skater or gymnast just as easy. I like Suzy Kolber but she is no NASCAR expert. Bring in Alan Bestwick or even Paul Page with a couple of former racers and you have a great team. Brad Daugherty, other than being from North Carolina, has no clue about racing. His SportsCenter reports are just endless dibble about nothing.

Roland said...

If they were so concerned about having a woman in the studio, how about Shannon Spake? She has credibility and experience with NASCAR. How about Wendy Venturini? Same deal.

If not, then by all means ALAN BESTWICK! Inside Nextel Cup sucks since Dave "one foot in the grave" Despain took it over.

Alan knows his stuff and is very funny as well. PLEASE PLEASE. At least Suzy is gone. I'm not sure I could have stood an other broadcast with her throaty "I'm a VJ from MTV" voice.

Anonymous said...

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE! GET BRAD DAUGHERY AND SUZY KOLBER OFF OF NASCAR!!! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE. COULD WE PLEASE GET SOME DRIVERS TO COMMENTATE. THEY ARE REALLY BAD.

Anonymous said...

In the beginning Brad Daugherty in Nascar was kind of like Dale Jr commenting on the NBA, but the guy kind of grows on you. Less than an expert, but easily more than just a bystander. And keep in mind also that this guy was invested to the tune of millions of dollars in a couple of very good, often winning, Nascar teams. He's a very likable even tempered commentator, not as hyper and excitable as DW (bless his heart) and not arrogant like a Tiger Woods. He brings kind of an unusual perspective to the sport. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt, and see how he develops.