Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Mike Mulhern Surfaces On "Tradin' Paint"


The Daly Planet once called Tradin' Paint on SPEED "the little series that could." This show was once considered a throw-a-way and has now attracted the attention of a big number of NASCAR fans for one reason. That would be Kyle Petty.

His addition to Tradin' Paint has made this little thirty minute show a must-see for serious fans and media members as well. The format is simple. John Roberts is the host, he throws out the topics and then directs traffic. Alongside of Roberts is Petty, who is the "designated driver" of the series. He appears in each show. Then comes the interesting part.

The third panelist is a random member of the NASCAR "media." This season, the definition of "media member" has been expanded a bit, and with good results. Formerly limited to print and "deadline" media folks, this season there has been a mix of TV announcers and reporters in the Tradin' Paint soup.

On this weekend, a face appeared that was familiar to fans of an earlier show on SPEED called Pit Bulls. This series was an attempt to get multiple media members together and let them discuss a variety of NASCAR topics. First, it was entertaining, and then it was a disaster. Eventually, it was cancelled.

Mike Mulhern, a NASCAR reporter for the Winston-Salem Journal, was an original Pit Bull member. After being introduced by Roberts on this episode of Tradin' Paint, he said to the panel "the last TV show I was on got cancelled because Brian (France) didn't like what I had to say." That is certainly one way to set the tone.

Robert pitched the "top 35" rule as the first topic. Petty, who is right on the "top 35" bubble, talked about his experience this season and then Mulhern stepped right in. Calling the rule completely obsolete, Mulhern got the Petty blood boiling in less than one minute.

"That's bull crap," said Petty. "Its to protect the teams that have run all the races!" Mulhern was not going to be swayed. Petty made the point that NASCAR teams are basically worthless when sold without any type of franchising, and this was NASCAR's only way. The points from the previous year helped the team's value.

Roberts led the now brawling duo into the "Car of Tomorrow Land" which Mulhern promptly called a complete "boondoggle" by NASCAR. Petty responded that it was the media to blame, and told Mulhern where the COT was concerned to "get off it." His point was to protect the sport and give the COT a chance to run its first full season.

The problems at Yates Racing allowed Mulhern to address a bigger issue when he called for Ford to "get their act together on things." Calling attention to Robby Gordon, Mulhern said "the whole Ford Motor Company (NASCAR) operation needs to be re-vamped." Petty himself was on the hot seat for his recent merger rumors, and he put them to rest by saying "we do not marry the first pretty girl that comes along."

Petty expounded that the nature of the current racing business forces the "four team" rule to be pushed in creative ways. Petty draws the line at housing more than four NEXTEL Cup teams under the same roof with one owner, no matter how "creative" the finances or ownership.

The strong words from Petty about Joe Gibbs Racing were interesting. In the on-going GM final year vs. Toyota future debate, Petty's point was that any in-house problems at Gibbs should have been discussed behind closed doors. "GM has the perfect right to be upset with Joe Gibbs," said Petty.

When the subject of impound races arose, Petty and Mulhern quickly agreed that NASCAR had to change the rules for next season. Both suggested either all races or no races being impound races was the only way to go. This one was easy.

John Roberts has been a workhorse for SPEED, and his preparation for Tradin' Paint is not exactly what it should be these days. How can you blame him with the way SPEED has squeezed every possible on-air moment out of him for the last ten months?

It may be time to consider a new host, like a Randy Pemberton or Wendy Venturini. This would allow some separation of Roberts from this one SPEED show, give another SPEED on-air talent a chance, and perhaps result in some more structured questions for the panelists. Roberts is great, just stretched way to thin by the network.

Tradin' Paint has gotten itself back on-track after a little excursion to "owner land" several shows ago, and that is great to see. Now, the only thing left is for the series Producer to pick top-notch personalities as guests for these last handful of shows. November should see this excellent series go out on a high note.

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29 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was glad to see Mulhern on the show. They finally found someone who can stand their ground when under fire from Petty's verbal assaults!

I think the host needs to do more to control the direction of the discussions on this program. Instead of saying something like "Car of Tomorrow, discuss", I wish they would focus the panelists on one particular aspect of an issue at a time. Petty is prone to "filibustering" the debate if he's given a topic that's too broad. His bloviating ends up consuming most of the allotted time, which limits the ability of the guest panelist to give their input. Even when Petty states his case in a concise manner, just "throwing a topic out there" tends to lead to a disjointed argument where the panelists are talking past each other.

Anonymous said...

Petty may be a nice guy elsewhere, but on this show, he tends toward being a bully who insists on dominating the topics. No one is right unless they happen to share his opinion.

I wonder if it isn't a role he's requested to perform?

Richard in N.C. said...

I am told that one of the reasons that PIT BULLS was cancelled was that several drivers were upset with its constant negative tone. Mulhern has a decidedly, consistent negative NASCAR agenda and frequently promotes his opinions as news. Throughout this season he has frequently noted the decline in TV ratings for NASCAR races without EVER making any comment that the decline might have anything to do with how TNT or ESPN has handled the coverage.

slithybill said...

Mike Mulhern was the best paint trader so far this year. Here's who I think they need to book for the remaining 4 shows:

Atlanta - Rick Minter
Texas - David Poole
Phoenix - Ed Hinton
Miami (okay, Homestead, wherever) - Dave Despain. (He should be in town anyway to do Windtunnel live from the track, as well as Inside Nextel Cup if they do what they did last year.)

Those guys ought to be able to trade some paint and hold their own with Kyle Petty.

As far as the host goes, maybe they could rotate the hosting duties between John Roberts, Wendy Venturini, Randy Pemberton and Steve Byrnes. That way Mr. Petty might not get too comfortable from week to week responding to the same host.

Anonymous said...

The idea of Wendy Venturini in the host chair is excellent. Like Petty, her racing knowledge and enthusiasm is in her genes. She is not just a pretty face. She is a very thorough racing journalist with just the right touch of camera presence. As the program quarterback, I think that she would keep the show on track.

I really do like Roberts and Byrnes, but it would be nice to see another person in the host role on SPEED.

Shawnna said...

On the whole, I've really enjoyed Tradin' Paint this year. I'm just glad I finally got a DVR so I don't have to worry about finding it. Speed, please give it a home!

I think Wendy Venturni would be great as a host. She was on one of the radio shows (Pit Reporters?) recently and as usual, was knowledgable and professional.

Like John said, the show is for serious fans -- it's nice to have a show that doesn't try to appeal to the lowest common denominator. I've often found myself wishing the show was longer than 30 minutes -- sometimes it feels like they're rushing and not able to give a topic enough time.

Tradin' Paint is one of my Sunday morning standards. I watch it while I'm waiting for Race Day to get far enough in for me to watch and skip the commercials.

Anonymous said...

The negative slant of Pit Bulls is something that came out of NASCAR's PR department. What actually got them cancelled was they were asking tough questions to fans, drivers, and crew members and the answers that were given were truthful and gave NASCAR a black eye. God forbid we should have people actually say what they want to and feel about what's going on in NASCAR. Brian France had the plug pulled on the program, exercising a clause in the contract that Speed signed with NASCAR stating that NASCAR will pretty much dictate the content of what's being aired for public consumption.

wickedj said...

slithybill - you might get Kyle to repeat his words from Sonoma if Poole gets on this show LOL

i would seriously PAY to see Pit Bulls revived away from NASCARs hands...tape the show in a studio and since theres no real network you could air it on that isnt related to Fox/NBC/ABC put it on the internet

*demands profits from this show when my idea works*

Anonymous said...

Missed the show again because SPEED refuses to give it a permanent time slot ... And I don't have a DVR that'll find the show for me ... SPEED needs to air it more than one or two times (same with Nascar Performance) ... How about on Sunday evenings after Wind Tunnel, instead of the bovine excrement that is in that time slot now ??


I'm surprised TPTB let Mulhern back on a Nascar show ... Remember - he's the one that got called on the carpet by Nextel for reporting alleged changes that Nextel wanted Nascar to make AND this was before Nextel's contract started ...



Wind Tunnel won't be live from Homestead ... Dave flies from his home in the Atlanta area to the Charlotte studios for WT & INC ... The last two years, he's flown to Miami for his end of the season Nascar show, then back to Charlotte for WT and then back to Miami for INC ...

Anonymous said...

It was great to see Mike Mulhern on Trading Paint. 'es one of the few who isn't afraid to say what he thinks...positive or negative. Maybe, if Nasca weren't so determined to control everything that is said or written about the sport, they wouldn't be facing the downturn in ratings and attendence for the past 2 or 3 years. Without free discussions about the state of the sport, things won't stay healthy.

John B said...

I stopped watching Tradin Paint after the second time Kyle Petty was on. He is a pompous ass. Of course he is in support of the top 35 otherwise he would be on the trailer where he belongs. If his name wasn't Petty the only racing he would be able to do is in the 4 cylinder division at his local track. He is nothing other than a walking advertisment for the camp. If they get a real racecar driver I will come back and watch.

ezed said...

You're right. Give Wendy Venturini her own show.

Anonymous said...

Wendy V? Please! She has a likable personality and she is cute, but she still seems uncomfortable on air in a live situation. She is at her best in those edited controlled interviews she does for the pre race show.

Lisa Hogan said...

I’m a little confused with the negatives about John Roberts in this column. Recently, he was criticized for joining into a debate and now he’s stretched too thin and not prepared. Does John even pick the questions for the show or does the producer? I think John does a good job on this show and any on-camera appearances. I’m disappointed that he is no longer hosting all of the Nascar Live shows.

JD, me thinks thou art a bit biased. You seem to want Wendy to be on all of the SPEED shows. I like Wendy on Race Day; but, that is enough. I agree with the poster that said Wendy is best on taped interviews.

Mulhern is a member of the “grumpy brigade”. He thinks that nothing is right with NASCAR. If you disagree, then NASCAR won’t let you tell the truth. He is still pouting about Pit Bulls going off the air. The never-ending debate: If you liked the show, NASCAR took it off the air because they couldn’t stand the truth. If you disliked the show, it was a terrible show and low ratings took it off the air. It is way past time that he moved on. If everything is so terrible in NASCAR land, then he should start earning his living covering the ESPN poker marathons.

Anonymous said...

Must say I agree with Lisa Hogan. I watch tradin' paint regularly and I've never seen John Roberts seem unprepared. On there or on any show.

But also I like Wendy V. and IMO she does well in off the cuff live situations.

Richard in N.C. said...

Mulhern is more than grumpy about NASCAR, the organization - he has a grudge and, as a result, a distinct negative bias against NASCAR. He can be entertaining, but his writing has a consistent anti-NASCAR slant. For instance, according to Mulhern the problem with the declining TV ratings is all the fault of NASCAR and the COT- and not at all related to the substandard quality of the coverage provided by TNT and ESPN.

darbar said...

Tradin' Paint has become my favorite racing show on TV. They're not afraid to take on the tougher subjects. Mulhern was great and didn't shirk from the sometimes overpowering beliefs of Kyle Petty. I like John Roberts as host, but if his overuse on so many shows causes problems, I would prefer to see someone like Larry Mc or Steve Byrnes hosting. It might just be me, but I have a hard time watching Randy Pemberton on any Speed show. I don't know if he's being misused by Speed by doing his reports from the garage area or what, but he just doesn't come off as comfortable or as polished as others---his questions come off as sounding nervous, halting or disjointed and very unprepared. Wendy V is the consumate professional and the "strongest" woman in sports reporting, but I'm not sure a woman, no matter how great, would be welcome in a situation such as
Tradin' Paint. As I said earlier, Kyle Petty can be overpowering in his beliefs and would probably need a very strong personality to keep things in line.

Anonymous said...

What TP needs in the way of a host is someone who isn't afraid to tell Petty to shut up once in a while, he is so pro nascar he stinks, never will you hear him say anything against nascar.

Nascar and the Canadian Curmudgeon said...

I'm a trading paint fan...I liked Pit Bull as well....having Mulhern on added some spice...I look forward to more...

Anonymous said...

I know this is entirely off-topic but the editor has not opened any new thread. This is just more of the classy attitude on motorsports from the world leader in sports! From ESPN.com, filed under "page 2-30 second spots" by David Fleming, 10/25/07:"Recently down here in North Carolina, Bruton Smith, the owner of Lowe's Motor Speedway, threatened (read: bluffed, badly) to pack up his 2,000 acre eyesore and leave town if he wasn't granted permission to build a drag strip next to his track. But before I could even offer up my buddy Jak's truck to help move LMS out of town, the so-called city leaders practically piddled themselves and relented. Good for them. I mean, what's a world-class banking town like Charlotte without a noisy, dirty, smoke-spewing, traffic-snarling drag-racing strip?"

Lisa Hogan said...

anon 5:34
Perhaps he was told that he could get his article "click count" up if he wrote about NASCAR.

Seems like he didn't really grasp the concept. :)

dave said...

I like the show but Mulhern has always been grumpy along with Hinton and Miller . They are always gthat way they hate nascar ! They need to go away!!1

SophiaZ123 said...

Mark me as another one that does not like Pemberton.

He does not seem a natural fit for tv. I guessed he got the gig due to being related to the big shot Pemberton with NASCAR?

Either way, I am glad somebody else posted the same feelings I had about the guy. Just not smooth on tv AT ALL.

I am also weary of HUNTING DOWN TP.

They need to give it a PERMANENT HOME and yes, after INC would be good and then they could run that other good half hour show I forget to watch...that they promoted during the end of INC. Survival of the Fastest?

If SPEED MANAGEMENT HAD ANY BRAINS, they would wrap these shows around INC and or repeat VL as well.

Hard to get ratings for a show when the network plays Timeslot Roulette!
:-)

Richard in N.C. said...

Robin Miller would be great on Tradin' Paint. He's humorous, knowledgeable,honest, and credible.

Andy Pandy said...

Robin Miller might be great on Tradin' Paint if he actually liked NASCAR.

Anonymous said...

Mulhern was a breath of fresh air that stirred the Petty pot initially, which was likely his intent. Then he settled in for some harmonious discussion on other topics.

Personally, I'd like to see Monte Dutton get a shot on Tradin' Paint.

toomuchcountry said...

I'll 2nd Monte Dutton. And let me log a nomination for Matt McLaughlin if you really want to stir the pot.

Thomas said...

I was the media guest on TP at Charlotte, and lemme tell ya, John Roberts is razor sharp. He handles all of the lead-ins to questions and "outs" to commercials flawlessly, and I don't say this because we're friends - the day we taped the show was the first time we'd actually met. The producers challenge the media guest to engage (or interrupt, however you wanna put it) Kyle when he's "filibustering." As for the questions, they're provided to all three folks you see on-screen, though John didn't read them verbatim. He took the idea and rolled with it to set up the off-the-cuff answers by Kyle and me. There's zero rehearsal on TP. They hook you up to the mic headset, make sure you can hear the producer in the IFB, and off you go. Just so ya know how it works ...

Thomas Pope / The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer

Rick said...

Thomas,

thanks for your post. It is always good to hear from someone in the media on this site, and to make themselves known as such.