Friday, September 28, 2007
Upstart Rowdy.com Shakes Up The NASCAR Media
Rowdy.com is a website that works for NASCAR fans in many ways. In addition to the opportunity to join as a member and host a web page all for free, it has a wonderful social networking function that allows fans to speak directly to each other or participate in groups aimed at one special interest.
One key element that many NASCAR fans have already discovered is the free Rowdy podcast available through iTunes or directly on the Rowdy.com site. Since its inception, this six day a week show of thirty to forty-five minutes in length has simply rocketed to the moon.
Handcrafted by Buck and Bass, the hosts of Rowdy, this simple audio discussion of all things NASCAR boasts all the top drivers, owners, and other NASCAR personalities in the news. Downloaded to an iPod, MP3 player, or other hand held device, this portable NASCAR news and entertainment presentation has been a great hit.
Fueled by the power of the NASCAR fans, these two guys have now grown to be included in the "top one hundred podcasts" on iTunes. That is simply amazing. They are up against the powerhouses of ESPN, Fox Sports, all the top news and feature shows on TV, and even the religious inspirations of Joel Osteen.
One listen to a Rowdy podcast can send a fan directly to the website for the free membership. That is the case with me after I became a fan of the audio product these two guys delivered six days a week all season long. Its just fun.
The NASCAR drivers and owners on Rowdy appear to be having the same kind of fun they used to have on the old NASCAR radio shows. In many ways, Rowdy is a consolidated and edited version of what fans go to Sirius to hear live. This product is just portable and available every morning like a good newspaper. Buck and Bass mix a ton of interviews and features into their podcast, but still keep it very timely.
I was lucky enough to be interviewed by the gang recently, and the two portions of the interview can be heard on the September 27th and 28th podcasts. I held this column until these both aired so it would not be seen as a promo, which it is not. These can both still be heard by going to Rowdy.com and just clicking on the "listen now" button under the pictures of Buck and Bass. Pick a date, listen to the podcast, and tell us what you think.
What I was trying to do was give Daly Planet readers a better perspective of why we are here and what we are trying to do with this media project this season. In addition, we had a chance to talk about the past, present and future of NASCAR television. Lots of interesting topics were covered.
Veteran NASCAR announcer and reporter Mark Garrow serves as the voice of reason many times on all things NASCAR at Rowdy, and journalist Steve Waid also weighs-in on racing topics with his opinionated and experienced perspective. These regulars blend in well with the fast-paced and humorous exploits of the show hosts.
On the website, fans have begun to assemble tons of media content. Photos and videos not seen anywhere else on the Internet live at Rowdy. Much of it is directly related to the social networking aspect of this site, which encourages everything from local fan clubs to breakfast meetings at the track. The dynamic of this concept is playing out with tremendous popularity on the Internet, and total silence in NASCAR TV land.
Perhaps, in another time, TV programs like RaceDay or NASCAR Now would interview these two upstarts, and get their take on what it is like to negotiate through the NASCAR media landscape. Unfortunately, the TV networks of today are very different.
They are all married themselves to multi-million dollar Internet investments, and this leads to a lot of exclusion in the name of competition. This flawed philosophy in turn leads the fans right back to the "outlaws" of the Internet like Rowdy. The straight-laced corporate sites like NASCAR, ESPN, and even SPEEDtv.com are made to look the fool when two guys in a rented office can turn out a iTunes top one hundred podcast about NASCAR.
Currently, NASCAR TV is in a state of limbo. Fans are not really sold on what TNT and ESPN tried to deliver to them, and the NASCAR on Fox season was too far back to remember. Think what ESPN could have done with a commitment to lure the NASCAR fan to ESPN.com for exclusive content and interaction.
What if Tim Brewer took email in the Tech Center? What if Jerry Punch answered chat questions in the three minute commercial breaks? What if they used fan videos to ask questions of drivers or panelists in NASCAR Countdown?
"What if" may well be the theme of the NEXTEL Cup TV season this year. Suddenly, the ABC broadcasts appear to be dinosaurs regardless of who is announcing. NASCAR.com is directly competing with their own video and TV shows on line, DirecTV is on-the-air with Hot Pass, and Sirius Satellite Radio is live with the race coverage. Websites like The Daly Planet are also live with in-progress comments and chat. Where will all this lead?
That might be a good topic for the next Rowdy podcast. Maybe I will go directly to their website and suggest it. TNT has erased NASCAR from their site, and ESPN.com wants me to pay to be an "Insider" before I can speak to anyone directly.
Instead, I'll just plug in my iPod and get my NASCAR information and entertainment for free every day. If Rowdy decides to add video to next season's podcasts, they might just shake-up more than the Internet.
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