Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Marty Reid Rides To ESPN's Rescue


The rising tide of anger directed at ESPN after a weekend of problems and then a Monday night disaster has been spreading.

Stories on various Internet sites, including NASCAR.com and even mainstream newspapers have finally been reflecting the incredible frustration of NASCAR fans over ESPN's problems both at the track and in the studio.

Monday night, NASCAR Now never mentioned the fact that ESPN had pushed the Busch Series race completely off the air just minutes before it was about to begin. Host Erik Kuselias never apologized, never explained, and never even acknowledged that there had been a problem. That is simply unbelievable.

As the show progressed, NASCAR Now chose not to interview the first time winner of the Busch race that ESPN2 had carried live. Never followed-up on the great story of his car's design, the charity involved, or how this win so deeply affected his team. The fact that he had not been interviewed live after the race by ESPN apparently was completely ignored. Did I mention the word unbelievable?

Finally, Monday's NASCAR Now chose to ignore The Craftsman Truck Series race from Atlanta entirely. The tight points race, the veteran competitors, and the great racing made no difference. This race was on SPEED, and suddenly it did not matter that it was one of only three national touring series. The show had aired on another network, and as has happened so often this season, ESPN completely ignored NASCAR reality...because they could. Now, it had gotten mind boggling.

Tuesday's NASCAR Now brought yet another surprise. Viewers heard the familiar tones of ESPN veteran Marty Reid as the show opened, and found Marty hosting the entire program. As has happened so often this year, there was no mention of where host Erik Kuselias went, or why Ryan Burr was not hosting the show.

Marty Reid is one of the most hard-working and nicest TV personalities you could ever meet. Long before his high-profile assignments with IndyCar and the NHRA, Reid was knee-deep in mud with the off-road trucks, and has covered tons of racing of all kinds in his career. His appearance on NASCAR Now brought-up more questions than answers.

As had been the case with Allen Bestwick, Reid swung through the thirty minute show with good humor and the right attitude. He finally had a chance to talk with the NASCAR Now reporters, and they clearly enjoyed his presence. Marty and Allen both share the same kind of self-effacing humor with their TV viewers and broadcast partners. Its never too serious, its just racing.

Seeing Reid on the show brought to mind the sudden weekend appearance of Bill Lester a while back. Lester appeared, worked an entire weekend of shows, and then vanished. When The Daly Planet asked ESPN about it, they said it was a one time thing. Lester said nothing in the media about it at all. The word "audition" comes to mind.

If Reid was taking a moment to try-out for the host position for next season, sign him up right now. NASCAR Now has never been at a lower point than after the debacle of Monday night. Angry emails from fans flooded The Daly Planet, and the questioning fan emails posted on the ESPN boards were wiped clean almost instantly. Across the Internet, however, the screaming of the fans continued.

What else can be done to fans of this sport? One whole series ignored. A driver cast aside for college football is again ignored after his first win. The stories of a three race weekend are ignored for scripted hype and artificial excitement about a Chase that involves only two drivers.

How should David Reutimann feel about ESPN right now? Owner Michael Waltrip? Toyota? How should Atlanta Truck Series winner Kyle Busch feel?

Locked in an exciting points battle, how should Mike Skinner and Ron Hornaday feel about no coverage of their sport? This is about their careers, their lives, and their hard work for the last nine months being ignored. Can things at NASCAR Now get any lower?

The only saving grace for this Tuesday was the smiling presence of Marty Reid, and the fact that he led this off-balance network through a good show. Marty has been ESPN's "go to" guy this season for Busch Series races, and now for their studio show. If Marty appears on Wednesday, maybe he will shed some light on why he is doing the show, and what changes we might be seeing for next season. Some kind of light at the end of the tunnel is exactly what ESPN needs right now.

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 and add your opinion.

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am happy to see changes with NASCAR Now and I hope we see more changes for the better. With the right people and communication in place, ESPN's coverage will become better.

photojosh said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I really liked Erik Kuselias on ESPN radio. I have listened to hundreds of hours of his show in the past. But I was bummed when he was tapped for the Nascar Now job, and I haven't been impressed at the job he's done.

Without being there in the production meetings, it's hard to know how much of that is because of "orders from above". But it's hard not to lay the bulk of it at Kuselias's feet. That's what happens when you are the main man, you get the glory or the garbage thrown at you.

Erik, go back to radio. Dan Patrick is gone, you could be cleaning up over there.

Illpolo said...

This show tonight completely validated your comments about the content of the show being directly linked to the host because, as was mentioned all day today, the host has a great deal of control as to what topics are covered on the show and what is excluded (in Kuselias' case, he doesn't know auto racing so he doesn't have much to comment on other than the popular/controversial subject of the week).

It goes to show that if you get people covering the sport who have been involved with it for quite some time, we can excuse small hiccups in the coverage because they are still excited about covering the race, show, or whatever else is going on, and that is evident to the viewers.

The show tonight wasn't great, it wasn't bad, it was somewhere in between...that's probably all we need from a nightly Nascar show on ESPN.

bevo said...

I gave up on the show way back but if Marty starts hosting it I'll Tivo it. He was great hosting the NHRA telecasts and you could tell the great chemistry they had.

Marty Reid is a class act.

Agricola said...

Where is NASCAR in all of this? They are the ones who took the money and signed the contract with ESPN, and one would think that they would be at least as upset as the fans are about the miserable job that ESPN/ABC has done thus far. Is Brian France (and his posse) simply content to pocket the cash while the fans get the shaft? I find it strange after years of France diktat (total control of nearly everything) that they can allow this to happen.

Anonymous said...

Here's the bottom line for ESPN:

Viewers who have deserted the show in droves will return to watch NASCAR Now if they will replace Erik with someone on Reid, Massaro or (preferably) Bestwick's ability.

If you're reading this, ESPN, make that change and your audience will be there.

We want a daily NASCAR news program. But it has to be good, not just "there."

Ritchie said...

The vibe of the Tuesday night show was much better than the Monday night show. It wasn't great, however the show's quality benchmark isn't that high. I did feel that the host was on the same page as the reporters, and the reporters were comfortable talking to Mr. Reid.

That being said, there has been many comments about Mr. Kuselias and his ability to host NASCAR Now. Mr. Kuselias is a good talk radio host and the few times that I have heard him on ESPN Radio, I have been entertained. However, the job of the host of a show is communicator, not talker. Mr. Kuselias simply does not communicate well with NASCAR fans.

There is a clear difference between the two shows he hosts. His radio program on ESPN radio seems to be set up for people who are casually listening to the radio as they drive or are doing some other task simultaneous to listening. The radio show never delves very deep into anything.

As a NASCAR fan, I want NASCAR Now to be a news show that is in the same vein as NFL Live, or the college football show that comes on right after NASCAR Now. Those shows require a viewer to have a baseline knowledge of the sport before the viewer even begins watching it. Those shows are not intended for the novice fan.

Anonymous said...

ESPN gets the ratings after every show, so they know what a different host causes in the ratings. If the viewers increased or decreased by a major number don't you think they would go with the highest ratings host. I just don't think that this show gets enough viwers nation wide to make a difference in ratings for them to care. It sounds like most folks on here are East Coast. Only 1/2 the US maybe sees the first run of this program after home from work.

Kathy said...

Sometimes I watch NASCAR coverage and feel like I must be in a demographic that just doesn't matter to anyone...58 year-old female from the midwest who likes MWR, Toyota's entry into the business, finds Busch and truck racing as exciting as Cup, and cheered out loud with a tear in my eye when David Reutimann...one of the nicest guys in racing and an up and coming Cup driver...won his first Busch race.
I kinda understood the urgency to end the coverage Saturday night before an interview with David and Carl...I figured there would be follow-up coverage on Sunday or Monday, but there was nothing.
I am a loyal NASCAR fan. I watch practices, qualifications,all the races and the pre and post shows, NASCAR now, INC, and Speed coverage. If I am not a fan who counts, who is?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Thanks for the comments. I think that is the ultimate irony. Kuselias is made for talk radio with his passive-aggressive style and his ability to evoke emotion from guests and callers.

TV series hosting is a skill that is learned, but it also requires a certain type of personality. The key is to be able to direct traffic and then get out of the way. John Roberts on SPEED is a good example. He makes the show about others, and leaves his ego at the door.

It should be interesting to see who ESPN picks to host NASCAR Now for 2008. As I have said many times before, this TV series has the potential to be just as powerful as SportsCenter if done right.

JD

TexasRaceLady said...

I must admit I nearly fell out of my chair when Marty Reid showed up last night. It was so nice to hear someone who really knew racing.

Kathy, I can certainly sympathize with you --- I'm a 61 year old female living in deep East Texas who has watched NASCAR faithfully since 1979. But, I guess I don't count anymore.

If NASCAR wants to know why people are not watching, why don't they ask us "old-timers" --- it's about the RACING, stupid!

ESPN, show us the racing. Give us a daily news program that talks about the RACING!

Rick said...

I sataed in an earlier column in NASCAR Now that if Erik is on, I don't watch. I watched yesterday's show with Marty and found it pleasing.

With 3 weeks to go this season, why not give NN to Marty this week, Ryan next week, and Allen the week after, as an audition if that is the correct word. Announce who will be the host for the week so we, the viewers, will know who the host is and see what the viewer reaction is to each host.

Makes sense to me.

Anonymous said...

If the viewers increased or decreased by a major number don't you think they would go with the highest ratings host.

The problem is, fans who have been turned off by this show don't come back every day to see who's on it.

We don't realize that, today, Erik's off, so we ought to watch.

Heck, the ghost of Benny Parsosn could host it tonight, but if it's a surprise, the ratings won't change.

That's why ESPN needs to change the host, permanently, to someone with NASCAR chops.

Kevin said...

I hardly ever watch the show because of Erik, but happened to catch the show open Tuesday night and laughed at Marty's opening line about the scariest thing about the show being him hosting...it was funny and I watched the entire show thereafter...

wasn't the strongest thing in the world but it gave me a few chuckles...Marty seemed to be about a day behind on some of his info regarding the water in the fuel issues, etc, but it was OK and I'll take OK shows with knowledgable people to get a daily show.

Chris said...

For some reason Nascar Now was on the air early last night. I just happened to go by ESPN2 around 5:50PM and Marty was doing the show. He mentioned it was some kind of bonus edition of Nascar Now. My Directv program guide listed NHRA Stylefest being on the air from 5:30-6PM. I guess with all the Yankee stuff going on yesterday some of the shows on ESPN2 were pushed back possibly?

w17scott said...

Mr. Editor,
Well this column represents another non-post on Jayski...so much for journalistic integrity, eh ESPN? Marty Reid is a true professional and credible in any racing format he hosts...Tuesday's show was representative of what NASCAR fans should expect on a daily basis... btw, where is Ryan Burr? after the Monday disaster, no wonder TrainEri(k) wasn't seen ...of course an embarassing effort hasn't kept him off the air before

Daly Planet Editor said...

I truly thought after the wonderful Monday show nine days ago that Ryan Burr would be back to host this crucial hour.

I cannot say with any more emphasis that for a NASCAR TV partner to ignore not only the Trucks, but also the racing series that ESPN2 carries all season long is incredible.

Especially, with Texas looming and only a handful of races remaining, this type of blunder is simply not going to be tolerated by fans. No baseball, football, or basketball fans would put up with a daily show with an ill-informed host that purposefully did not discuss all the events and news from the weekend.

Anonymous said...

w17scott,

I got here by-way of a Jayski link, so I think it's just that the link for The Daly Planet gets put up on his 2nd or 3rd round of adding links more often than not.

I agree with most of the earlier posts. The show is, without much argument, better when Erik is not the host. In my opinion, it seems as if he has made no attempt to understand the sport. He just appears to continuously mock it.

I don't think a lot of fans would have a problem with a newbie hosting the show if it appeared he/she was respectful and giving a genuine effort to understand racing. I think that is part of the problem with Erik when he's hosting NN.

Daly Planet Editor said...

I sent this link to Jay kind of late, so I think he just got it in the AM. He is a great guy, and has helped me a lot this season.

indybigjohn said...

Isn't it amazing that ESPN, which was completely shunned by NASCAR in the early days of the then-new TV contract, adopts such a provincial attitude and ignores a complete series, does incomplete reporting, etc. You'd think they would be doing all they can to placate NASCAR fans and NASCAR itself rather than take the attitude that, "Hey, we're back, take us as we are or forget it."
Instead, they let commentators on other shows make fun of NASCAR, and they make so many mistakes in their coverage that you think they do it deliberately.
At the Busch race in Indianapolis, one of their commentators referred to IRP (I'm a throwback) as "our shortest track." At the Memphis Busch race, Rusty Wallace referred to that track as "our shortest track." Last time I checked, both Martinsville and Bristol were shorter than both. For Rusty's benefit, ORP is slightly shorter than Memphis. Marty Reid would be a welcome full-time addition because he does his homework. I recall him being very nice to me while I was at (then) IRP.

Anonymous said...
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Vince said...

I haven't watched or DVR'd this show for quite a while now. I'm still waiting for ESPN to get their heads out of their collective posteriors and select a full time host. Then, depending on who the host is, I may or may not come back and watch what currently is the biggest abortion on sports tv.

My vote would still be AB as the host of NascarNow, but I like Marty and his work too. Ryan Burr would be a distant third as my choice of hosts. I know some people here like Ryan and he seems a nice enough guy, but his Nascar knowledge is right down there with Erik's. Most of the time he doesn't have a clue what he is talking about either.

I think if ESPN would put this show on at the same time every evening it would help also. I'd vote for either 7 or 7:30pm. Not everybody has DVR's of Tvio. And most don't get home until this time of the evening. Put it on earlier and a lot of people just can't get home in time to view it.

Isn't it strange we haven't heard a peep from Brian France or Jim Hunter (isn't he the communications director of Nascar or something like that?) about the abysmal coverage ESPN has given us this year? Do they think if they ignore the problem with the tv coverage they're getting from ESPN it'll go away? By not coming out and condemning the coverage is makes them looks like fools. Or who knows, maybe they think the coverage is just fine. But in any case, it still makes the Nascar executives look like fools. Because what really matters in all of this is PERCEPTION! And the fan's perception of ESPN's coverage is that it totally sucks.

A little bit off subject, I also agree with other posters on here that Nascar has been ignoring their long time base of fans. I went to my first Nascar sanctioned race back in 1964. I have news for Nascar. You can go after the 18-34 year old market all you want, but if you go through the grandstands at a race or go to the souvenir trailer area, most of the people you'll see spending their hard earned cash is the long time fans. Fans with some salt 'n pepper in their hair or beards. Not the young kids. WE are the fans that support this sport, not the 18-34 year olds. So do not forget about us!

Anonymous said...

I've never listened to Erik on radio, but on NN, he is terrible. A big problem is that he doesn't seem to get any better.

How can he mc a program about racing and appears that he never goes or watches a race?

I think I heard that he is studying for his Ph.D. and maybe that's what he does all day and just gets some Cliff Notes about the race a few minutes before air time. He's a member of MENSA and therefore thinks he can do it all.

As little as he knows about the Cup series, he seems to be completely unfamiliar with the other 2 series. I agree with others, the show is supposed to be about NASCAR, not Cup.

I did not think Tuesdays show was great, but Marty is better.

Kevin said...

Vince, the only problem with your theory is that to survive, NASCAR has to court the younger fan base or it won't be sustainable when those with salt & pepper in their hair go all salt and then pass on.

Not trying to be crass, but pointing out there's got to be at least a significant consideration to longer than 1-3 years...the sanctioning body and their marketing people would be irresponsible if they simply looked at who's there now without considering 5-, 10-, and even 20-plus year growth models.

JHD said...

Marty on NN was fantastic. I hope the producers finally saw what happens when the right people are covering the sport.

The only bad part about the show was the segment with Tim Brewer. He was asked to explain why water in the gas tank was bad, and he simply pulled out a beaker with water on the bottom of it and gas floating on top and never explained anything. He said the same things over and over punctuated by frequent "Then again..."s. I can't believe there isn't a crew chief available out there who would be better suited for this role. Andy Petree works for ESPN, and hey he's a crew chief so why not use him in a dual capacity? Tim Brewer needs to go.

GinaV24 said...

Well, I'm one of the fans who was so turned off early on by NN that I never watch it. Klueless is just that, clueless about racing and when I come home from work, if I'm going to watch a show to see what has gone on in NASCAR, then I want a knowledgeable host, not a no nothing. That applies to the race day broadcasts as well, which is why Suzy and Brad leave me cold -- they know nothing and talk football in the middle of the racing action, so I've turned off ESPN broadcasts as one of my choices. I like Allen Bestwick a lot and it sounds like Mary Reid could do a good job. I've caught Ryan at times and he's good as well. The other problem with this show besides its direction is trying to figure out when it's on. TV shows that are too hard to find tend to lose their audience.

I did read with amusement the article on NASCAR.com about the ESPN coverage and I sent a note back to Duane asking him if NASCAR had threatened his job yet for writing such heresy. His out of office message is on -- so I wonder if he got fired for stating such an opinion. After all, Brian France was pretty fired up (for him) about the article last year in USA Today that was critical.

Vince said...

Kevin,

You missed the last line of my post. I said don't forget about us (the older fans). I didn't say that Nascar should ignore the 18-34 year old segment entirely. But I don't expect to be ignored either. When I was in the 18-34 year old bracket Nascar still catered to the long time fan. Now they don't.........

Anonymous said...

Vince, I'm in my early 20s and recently spent one of my entire paychecks so I could go to the Charlotte race. As Kevin said, there has to be some consideration of the future fan base. I think in that instance, for some of the 18-34 set, we don't have the money to spend like those who have been in the workforce longer, but I do get where you're coming from.


Sorry to get off-topic JD, but I had to respond to that comment.

Alex said...

I'm of the belief that ESPN is subtly trying things for 2008. We had a one-off with Bestwick hosting NASCAR Now, and now Reid has come on. Who knows, with the hire of John Kernan, maybe the show will turn into an RPM2nite next year and focus on things outside of NASCAR (ESPN holds the rights to Champ Car, IRL, and NHRA as well).

Daly Planet Editor said...

No problem. That is one reason I was surprised that ESPN used a Brad Daugherty and a Suzy Kobler in the telecasts.

If they had brought someone like Lindsey Czarniak or even Shannon Spake up to the Infield Studio, they would have been serving a new age group. At least give them a shot.

Since they could not put someone in the announce booth like that, it might have been nice to see one of them host an edition of NASCAR Now as well. If NASCAR Now came on and Lindsay Czarniak was hosting, I would stay. I liked her hard work on the TNT package, and her determination to keep things on a professional basis.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Alex,

Don't forget they moved Brad Daugherty into the booth for two Busch races, and also brought Bill Lester on for a full weekend of NASCAR Now shows.

I think you hit the nail right on the head with your comment.

pat1938 said...

I am upping the count - I am a 70 year old, Ohio female now living in New York - and have a college degree - BIG NASCAR fan for years - Mikey - Carl - Tony - Jeff - many many favorites. Plus, I attend a few races a year.

Just in case ESPN doesn't read the internet for comments on it's coverage, I emailed them directly - maybe more people should do the same.

They had better direct some of their attention to us 'mature fans' because we have great influence over our families viewing and buying habits. Because of me, my 4 sons, ages 37 to 47, and 8 grandchildren, ages 3 to 20, are NASCAR fans.

I DVR NASCAR Now and give Erik the old fast forward when he is on. They need to put a long time
NASCAR fan in the position of program director.

NASCAR FANS unite - email ESPN directly

Anonymous said...

Television dollars are about advertising rates. It's not about getting people to go to the races. That's someone else's goal.

One of the reasons Super Bowls or other events want that age brackett audience. The companies that advertise during sporting events have the data that says this is the group that is willing to spend their discretionary income in those products.

Older people are often set in their ways. For example, they might eat corn flakes for 30 years. Not younger people. Younger peole will also buy a computer every couple of years, change cell phones every year, they love electronic gadgets, etc. Also, they don't mind getting into debt and using credit cards.

So it's not NASCAR, but every program on television that tries to attract younger viewers.

Rick said...

Marty Reid is hosting today and David Reutimann will FINALLY be on.

Anonymous said...

If ESPN wants to make some improvemnets in their NASCAR coverage they should eliminate the Steven Wallace Show and do some real race coverage of the Busch Series. I see other drivers gain 20 spots on the ticker with no air time but Rusty's kid is what most of the coverage is all about. Steven Wallace gets far more air time wrecking everything on the track than Scott Wimmer gets driving to the front in every Busch Series race. Allen Bestwick is the guy to host the talk shows. He is the best NASCAR announcer in TV land.

Anonymous said...

Here's my take- When I was 16 years old, I didn't expect to see 23 year olds in the booth so I could relate to them. I was given 40 to 50 to 60 year olds and you know what? I didn't care. I learned about the sport, and I paid attention. It doesn't matter who's in the booth, but darn it, it matters if they know their S***t. John Kernan, Marty Reid, Alan Bestwick, etc. Put them in, coach, they are ready to play. But don't put in an idiot and expect it to work. Demographics Smemographics. I want knowledgeable people. Who cares what age they are? I am 42, and I pine for the days of 1979...

Anonymous said...

I'd watch NASCAR Now every single night if Lindsay Czarniak was the host.

Of course, I'd also watch a show about drying paint every single night as well, if she was the host! Just sayin'...

Newracefan said...

I'm going to lower the count a 48 yo female who lives outside philly. College graduate and manager in my company. Not you typical demographic and there are alot more where I came from. I love Nascar and tape everything I am not home to watch (usually fast forward NN if Erk is on). I very much enjoyed Marty Reid on tues and wed on NN. He did a fantastic interview with Reutimann and in a way I am glad it got put off lord knows what would have happened if Erik had done it. The only thing I didn't like with Marty was his interview with the regional series driver on weds; his first question was about getting all the hot chicks as a race car driver. The poor kid didn't know what to say but he did better after that, except maybe pushing the holloween costume thing. Maybe we are being listened to and Erik is now the fill in guy when someone better is not avail.

Sandie said...

It definitely has been nice to have Marty the last few days. And Erik must have spoken to TPTB about the complaints as David FINALLY got some airtime!

@rick--Allen *doesn't* need to audition, he's THE man!

@anonymous 10:24--Yup! Yes we can all say "hey watch the replay Joe Blow hosted and the show rocked!" *but* the replay doesn't count. But if we know ahead of time that Joe Blow will be on all week then of course we can tune in.

@anonymous 2:30--yes that's what I don't get either!

@anonymous 7:01--I'd *so* love to steal John back from NHRA! I miss him even more now!

@anonymous 7:16--LOL!

Rick said...

@sandie -

I know Allen doesn't need to audition, but I'm holding him back for everything else, play-by-play, hosting practice & qualifying, etc.

We don't want to work him too much. ;)

Anonymous said...

Loved Marty Reid on the NN!...there's not a thing wrong with adding a little class and knowledge for Nascar fans.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it will take a while for Marty to get NN turned around. It was better, but not great. aI was happy to see Reutimann interviewed.

They did not have to re-run the piece on "what you want to be for Halloween?" I think this is the 3rd time they've played it.

At least no Arrowsmith.

Anonymous said...

I DID enjoy the music this last week during the BUSCH race. While I LOVE Aerosmith I was really starting to hate "I'mBAACCKK!" after every break.

I agree that both ESPN AND SPEED need to set dates and times for their weekly "news" type shows; and ESPN really tried to F...up my day when they moved my BUSCH race to ESPNclassic or whatever it was on.

MY beef:I hate the other sports and it jerks my string to no end when I have to put up with football(or other sport)to watch a race. I know that many of you like all of it so I'm trying not to complain.
But as a person who has been involved in racing since I was 16 and who loved watching races on wide world of sports back then, I have put up with a lot from jocks and everyone who thought racers were trailer trash--until the last few years.
Well I was a racer when racing wasn't cool, and now they want me to 'play nice' with the bullies who weren't nice BACK THEN and it really SUCKS!
Thanks for letting me vent.

Anonymous said...

Erik Kuselias is all about stirring up controversy and pondering incredibly stupid "what if" scenarios. It is why I stopped listening to him on radio. He has a law degree and seems to just want to argue with anyone and everyone.

So sad that ESPN got NASCAR where it is today by giving great coverage (remember when they went on the air just as the green flag was starting the race? -- no 2 hr pre-race). They have definitely moved on and not for the good