Thursday, February 28, 2008

Nicole Manske Steps Into The ESPN2 Studio

The hits from ESPN and their daily racing show just keep on coming. Former host of The SPEED Report Nicole Manske stepped into the ESPN2 studio to host the Thursday version of NASCAR Now.

Manske has been working very hard on the road in a wide variety of roles. Her transition from glamour girl of SPEED to the co-host of the only daily NASCAR program on TV has been fun to watch.

As most regular NASCAR fans know, ESPN likes to spread their talent across the many networks and programs that have anything to do with NASCAR. From Marty Smith to Brad Daugherty, the "regulars" of NASCAR Now pop-up on everything from SportsCenter to ESPNEWS.

Manske has been handed a lot of assignments in her first two weeks on the road, and has proven to be equal to the challenge. Her SPEED duties did not call on her to do anything more than read a teleprompter and occasionally interview from the studio.

In her short time at ESPN, she has hosted the live one hour weekend edition of NASCAR Now from ESPN's Pit Center at the track. That program was very impressive. She has also been the field reporter for the weekday version of NASCAR Now in support of studio host Ryan Burr. Those two seem to get along quite well on-the-air.

Thursday, Manske hosted the studio show with reporter Angelique Chengelis along for news, and driver Boris Said along for analysis. Even though it was pre-recorded, the program flowed quite well and covered a lot of ground.

Following the example of Allen Bestwick, Manske seems to not take herself too seriously and handles on-air problems with a good sense of humor. It seemed that the NASCAR drivers picked-up on that vibe during her Daytona interviews. That casual tone continued on the Thursday program.

Chengelis and Said were both on-hand for the new segment at the top of the show that covers daily news and follows-up on stories from the previous day. This change in format has been outstanding, and keeps viewers interested before the first commercial break hits. That means they will come back.

Just like this blog, there are some non-NASCAR stories that have a way of sneaking into the NASCAR media outlets. Certainly, the item that Gerry Forsythe had folded his open-wheel racing team was shocking. While Manske limited her questions to the future of driver Paul Tracy, this type of item and the changes in the open-wheel world may soon force SPEED or ESPN2 to consider creating additional motorsports news programming.

Todd Bodine live from Las Vegas was up next, and Manske did a solid interview that included the right mix of racing and family topics. Bodine is well-known for several things from nicknames to memorable racing moments in several series. This weekly exposure of a Craftsman Truck Series driver is a great carry-over from last season. The fact that now the interviews are well-informed and fun is wonderful.

Manske worked Boris Said pretty hard in this show, and Boris did the type of job he is capable of doing when focused. He followed a Tim Brewer Tech Tip with good comments, and then spent the next several segments of the show as the feature analyst. The bottom line is, it worked. No outrageous statements, and no NASCAR politics were on the menu this time.

Said related to DJ Copp's pit road report with some good facts, and then closed-out the show with some final comments about his exploits racing bobsleds again Bodine. The mix of Chengelis, Said and Manske made for an easy-to-watch program that stayed away from the hype and only stepped slightly into the "Kyle Busch might lead all three after Vegas" build-up.

Manske has also worked hard to build and maintain an on-air image very different from the one she used at SPEED. Business suits and conservative attire are going to keep NASCAR fans focused on the issues at hand. Manske already knows all too well that images shown on TV can live on the Internet for a very long time.

As the co-host of this national daily TV series, Manske seems to have gotten good advice from those around her and has headed into this project with a new maturity and strong work ethic. As Ryan Burr begins his turn hitting the road for NASCAR Now, viewers will see Manske host more programs from the studio.

When Allen Bestwick is added into the weekend and Monday mix, the new chemistry on NASCAR Now is hard to miss. If this program continues down the path it has taken so far this season, it should finally make the type of impact on fans and viewers that both NASCAR and ESPN intended it to make from the beginning.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. Thanks again for taking the time to stop by.


Brian said...

The thing that was annoying is they kept implying that there were 3 races this weekend. When they had Todd Bodine on, she said how he would be a factor Friday Night. There is no truck race this week, so that was kind of an interesting mix up.

Daly Planet Editor said...

I think both Manske and Said could have made it a little more clear where that was concerned.

She kept saying Busch would come away with the lead in all three and since they did a Todd Bodine interview earlier, they knew when the next Truck race was.

The show was also taped, so maybe in the future that kind of item will get cleaned up. I agree totally on that one.


Brian said...

That's interesting, I mean mistakes can happen. It's just something I noticed. This show is still many miles better than it was last year, that's for sure.

Thanks for this good place, JD.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Thanks for the nice words, Brian.

kenn said...

I think I saw D. J. Cobb do another feature which looked similar, but it was shorter. The first one dealt primarily with the rules change which mandates that a tire must be under control at all time. This feature was better, although this is a place where some chyron or even a slow-mo would have helped.

I geek out on process features, and I hope to see more like this. Very good observation by D. J. saying that since he's new to the team, they're more worried about consistency at the start of the season.

Nicole is definitely more than eye candy.

Brian said...

No problem JD, I check this place everyday, I might not post a lot but there is many that love your keep here. Keep it going man!

Anonymous said...

JD, I have one question:
Last week we had a NASCAR Now reporter in Las Vegas. Today it looked like Boris Said was in Phoenix. Also today Todd Bodine was in Vegas. None of the people I mentioned were in what looked like an ESPN studio or at the track. So, here is my question, were they in an ESPN bureau, a local affiliate's studio or somewhere else? Who's studio were they in?

Anonymous said...

JD, I don't know if you noticed this but when I watch NASCAR Now, It seems like the show is not "live to tape," rather it seems all the segments are taped separately, at different times, and then put together for the completed show at a later time. If you see some of the small details during the show, I don't think it flows like a "live to tape" show would. It is nothing bad, it is just interesting. What do you think?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 12:14AM,

One of the issues I have raised is the fact that NASCAR Now continues not to tell us where some reporters and guests are located when they are on a liveshot, either by satellite or land line.

I just think it makes sense to say "Brad Daugherty joins us from Ashville, NC" or "Marty Smith joins us from Charlotte."

But, the choice of the show is not to do that. Where they are is not really the issue, but not saying where they are makes things fuzzy when there are multiple talking heads.

As the show continues to grow and pick-up speed, perhaps the practice of disclosing the location will become habit.


Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 12:35AM,

You are correct, and I am told that is because of the schedules of the different guests and reporters. The best shows appear to be done in one taping.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Manske did ok, but she thanked the woman reporter and forgot to thank Boris when she closed out a segment with them. Both were in the monitors and she blew right past thanking Boris??? TV 101??

Anonymous said...

Sorry - but ESPN needs to be held accountable for having hosts and experts who don't know there is not a truck race this weekend.

They can spin it however they want, but when asked what the big weekend story would be Boris said "Kyle Busch wins all three". There's no way that can be explained away as meaning Kyle would lead the points in all series after the weekend...

Manske also hinted Bodine would make some noise Friday.

Other that that major flaw and being a little distracted by the tight pants the show was good. I really enjoyed the "over the wall" segment.

glenc1 said...

I'm glad you mentioned the attire. One of my issues with some of the Speed shows in the past is making the females look...provocative. I know there's a certain male demographic they might want to reach that way, but it's not professional and comes across as cheesy. This isn't the swimsuit issue, it's a news/feature show, and I think it's a good move by ESPN to have Nicole with the professional look like the rest of their reporters.

I think she's doing a good job and will get even better.

I was a bit surprised to see the Forsythe news on this show. Have the networks made any comment on the CCS/IRL deal? I haven't read, but I assume they must have been involved because there is TV coverage? Or maybe not?

As for the truck race, well heck, I have a hard time remembering whenthey are, but I do think it's a mistake they should not have made, as has been said. Hopefully they'll be more careful next time.

Anonymous said...

At the beginning of the show,they made it seem that Bill Elliott was being replaced for good in the 21,not just the Vegas race.

It was good to see Todd,in 1980,he and his family moved down to the Martinsville area to run a local dirt track and he was my classmate for 1 year in 1981.

This how is still so much better than last year.


Newracefan said...

It was a good show but add me as someone who was confused about the truck series. I got the impression there was a race this weekend after watching Nascar Now and up until reading this blog I still thought there was one (been a little busy and only DVR what I wasn't going to be home see). Other than this I thought Nicole did an excellent job and they appeared to be having fun which always works for me.

Quiff said...
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Anonymous said...

Daly Planet Editor said...
Anon 12:14AM,...

...As the show continues to grow and pick-up speed, perhaps the practice of disclosing the location will become habit.


February 29, 2008 5:01 AM

Thanks JD. But I was more interested in the logistics of having reporters in different places. I don't think ESPN would just build a temporary studio in the city the reporter is in for whatever reason. I want to know if those cities the reporters happen to be in, have ESPN bureau's (if one exists) or are they using a local news station's facilities?

Daly Planet Editor said...

That is a great question, I hope they give me an answer to that one.

k-y lube said...
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Anonymous said...
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