Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Ryan Burr Returns To "NASCAR Now"
On Wednesday of this week, ESPN News host Ryan Burr returned to NASCAR Now, the program many viewers wish he would host full time. The Daly Planet has recently refrained from columns about this program's "other host" because there is no point in continuing to dignify his ineptitude with publicity.
Burr immediately returned to the show a "news feel" and fast pace that allowed the program to jump right away into the headline stories with reporter Marty Smith. Burr and Smith click like brothers, and are always in sync. Smith covered the stories, said goodbye to Burr, and was gone with his duty done.
The subject of the big headlines, Regan Smith, was then interviewed on the phone by Burr. This type of follow-up with someone asking informed questions is exactly what this show needs, and usually has with Burr at the helm. All the bases were touched with Smith including Ginn Racing, the driver moved aside for Smith, and his view of the future.
Continuing to follow the same news thread, Burr brought the always interesting Terry Blount in to continue to explain the dominoes falling since the Ginn Racing moves. Blount had all the latest info, and was outstanding in explaining the ramifications of the problems at Ginn. Brad Daugherty then talked in very general terms about credibility and NASCAR "team business" dynamics.
As always with Burr, his fast pace left viewers glued to the screen. Landon Cassill was welcomed in as a young eighteen year-old driver trying to make the Busch Series race at Gateway. Hendrick Motorsports is bringing this youngster along, and he already appears very professional and well-spoken on television. Burr allowed him to speak, never put him on the spot, and concluded the interview by wishing Cassill good luck.
Burr then attacked the obvious "NASCAR at Indy" story about Jack Roush never winning at The Brickyard. Terry Blount returned to remind viewers that Roush really is focusing on this Indy race as a goal for all his teams. With a new partner in the Fenway Red Sox gang, it might be a very good time for someone like Kenseth to deliver.
The unraveling Michael Waltrip saga continued, and Terry Blount finally raised the point many were making on Internet sites all year long. With Terry Labonte being brought-in to allow MWR to make The Brickyard race, Blount suggested that Michael step aside permanently and move into the management role.
In wrapping-up the show, Burr passed along the news and notes that made a difference on this Wednesday, and was gone. As The Daly Planet has said so many times this season, Burr's hosting of NASCAR Now allows this show to run just as it was intended to be. Absolutely chocked-full of NASCAR information and racing at full speed.
Never once was innuendo or hype included. Never once was anyone put on the spot, or challenged to make a choice forced by the host. No one was outraged, angry, or over-the-top when talking about racing issues of any kind. This crew put on their "NASCAR news" hats and let it fly for a solid thirty minutes.
When will Ryan Burr be allowed to host the one hour versions of this show and the high-profile Thursday and Friday editions? His ability to relate to drivers, reporters, and other guests on this program is tremendous in contrast to the "other host." With absolutely no one on the set, Burr flew through thirty minutes seemingly without taking a breath, and included more "real information" than some of the one hour programs with the "other guy."
There is only one week until the big Indy shows of NASCAR Now begin on Thursday the 26th. This time, ESPN will be handling the NEXTEL Cup Series and all eyes will be on NASCAR Now as the program to watch.
Next week, there better not be "pool reporters" filing stories on NEXTEL Cup races. The faces of the broadcast team for ESPN need to appear on NASCAR Now with a "race wrap" every Monday for the rest of the season. These same faces need to provide a preview for the Friday and Saturday editions. The pit reporters need to plan and tape pieces for NASCAR Now to air during the following week, including following-up on stories not able to be shown after the live race.
While NASCAR Now has not had to deal with the fall-out from the Fox Sports and TNT coverage, they need to be acutely aware that they must follow-up every story from the ESPN telecasts for the rest of the season. The different ESPN "camps" need to communicate with each other. Right now, the coordination between ESPN News, SportsCenter, NASCAR Now, and the Remote Production group that actually produces the races is a mess.
Using a veteran talent like Ryan Burr, Allen Bestwick, or Mike Massaro will cut through the hype and wasted content time plaguing NASCAR Now. For ESPN, crunch time is here, and this program series needs to look at the Wednesday show as a model of how this program can serve the network, the sport, and the fans. After almost six months of NASCAR Now, how hard can this be to understand?
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