Saturday, September 29, 2007
"Tradin' Paint" On SPEED Suddenly Misfires
SPEED has been working hard on their talk show called Tradin' Paint since the NASCAR season began in February. This is the thirty minute show that features a regular host, a rotating media member, and one regular driver.
The premise of the show is that the media member and the driver talk back and forth in a debate about the issues of the day involving the sport. Michael Waltrip began the year as the driver, but SPEED made a change and inserted Kyle Petty into that slot in the spring of this year. It was a great move.
With Kyle on-board, things really took off in an entirely new direction. His views on many NASCAR issues were completely opposed to the members of the mainstream NASCAR media. Kyle has debated topics with the print, TV, and Internet reporters of NASCAR with lots of fireworks as the result. About three weeks ago, the show was just hitting its stride for the season when something very strange happened.
One week ago, instead of a media member, it was Ray Evernham alongside of Kyle and series host John Roberts. Other than hosting a weekly kids show for TV, Evernham has absolutely nothing to do with the media. This show, which had been working its way up to one of the top NASCAR shows on SPEED, suddenly turned tail and ran from the NASCAR media.
Evernham and Petty talked with Roberts about all kinds of issues. They talked as owners, they talked as drivers, they even tried to talk as fans. The one thing they could not make themselves into, as hard as they tried, was journalists.
This week, it was certainly time for the network to rebound from this problem, and bring in a hardcore reporter at this critical time of the year to deal with the big news issues. SPEED selected veteran reporter...Richard Childress. Believe it or not, good old RC was in the media chair and just grinning and talking about stuff. RC has been mistaken for many things in his days in the sport, but a reporter? Never.
Suddenly, it did not matter what Kyle Petty said. Suddenly, it did not what topic John Roberts tossed out for discussion. Tradin' Paint had become RaceDay. It had become Trackside. It had become NASCAR Live. With the one element that made this show unique missing, it was just another collection of NASCAR talking heads.
Petty had been escalating in his clashes with the media guests, and it was sometimes tough for him to keep his temper in check. That is exactly what made the show interesting at last. Petty talking with Jenna Fryer of the AP, Nate Ryan from USA Today, or Bob Pockrass of Scene Daily resulted in actual debating of real NASCAR issues on SPEED. Petty and Pockrass were outstanding.
Now, SPEED has suddenly "killed off" the position on the panel that might dare object to something that Petty might say. They have eliminated the panelist who might "step away" from towing the NASCAR line and have some new ideas or opinions.
Changing the reporter position to an owner position on this series was one of the worst television decisions of this NASCAR season. Even if the network decides to change it back, the damage is already done. With less than ten races in the NEXTEL Cup season and in the middle of The Chase, SPEED has shot itself right in the foot on national TV. The burning question is why?
There were no fireworks on these last two shows. There was no debate. There was only Kyle being very loud and spreading his wings because there was no one there to disagree. While Kyle is a veteran of the sport, he is on this show because of his perspective, not his wisdom.
He may have an opinion, but that does not make it an absolute truth. Anything he says is up for debate, and suddenly he does not like that very much. Apparently, its much more comfortable now to turn and see another team owner in the next chair.
Tradin' Paint is gone from my DVR list. Among the many hours of drivers and owners talking to John Roberts on the SPEED Stage, Tradin' Paint used to be special. Now, it blends right in with the RaceDay hi-jinks of Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace, the Trackside fun with Larry Mac and Jeff Hammond, and the Bob Dillner driver interviews on Victory Lane.
One can only wonder what the NASCAR media thinks of SPEED fleeing any type of journalistic integrity or an actual difference of opinion on NASCAR issues being shown on TV.
Whether this change is a result of a NASCAR phone call or just Kyle Petty throwing his new found TV weight around, it speaks volumes about the real value of freedom of speech and open discussion of real NASCAR issues on SPEED. What a shame for the fans.
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