Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Nicole Manske Stakes Her Claim


Amid all the talk about the new hour-long Monday show and the continuing presence of co-host Ryan Burr, there is another developing story on NASCAR Now. Perhaps, no one is under more scrutiny this season than Nicole Manske.

Brought-in back in August of 2006 by SPEED to replace several popular on-air veterans at The SPEED Report, Manske struggled. The new format at SPEED and a non-supportive co-host put Manske behind the 8-ball.

She was put in the role of the dizzy blond newscaster, regardless of the reality of her professionalism. Her attire was scrutinized every time she hit the air and even posted on the Internet. Sometimes, those clothing choices led TV viewers to draw their own conclusions about her on-air abilities and her off-camera personality.

At the conclusion of the 2007 season, both Manske and her SPEED Report co-host did not have their contracts renewed. Transition in the television world is normal, but it was Manske who announced that she would be moving to Bristol, CT and co-hosting NASCAR Now.

After a tough season, ESPN was re-vamping this daily show from the ground-up. Manske would be part of a three person hosting team that included distinguished veteran Allen Bestwick and former ESPNEWS anchor Ryan Burr. It was a total on-air change.

From the first moment she stepped onto the ESPN2 set, Manske experienced a new level of exposure and began to understand what it meant to be an ESPN anchor. As many on-air talent have learned, ESPN throws a lot of work at you right away, and Manske was no exception.

Assigned first to the field, Manske began to establish herself with interviews of drivers and personalities that had a bit of spice and attitude. She knew her NASCAR, and often took her interviews a little bit off the beaten path to the delight of those answering the questions.

In addition, she began a careful re-structuring of her on-air image that has continued to this day. Gone is the blond hair and the "interesting" outfits. Manske now joined the other female ESPN announcers in a dress code that takes the focus away from the TV anchor and puts it right back on the subject at hand.

Her first big test came with the assignment to anchor a one hour weekend edition of NASCAR Now from the racetrack. Sitting alongside Rusty Wallace, Brad Daugherty and other ESPN personalities Manske established herself as a credible presence and began a positive change in her public perception.

Now, a little over one month into the NASCAR season, Manske has quietly done what good TV anchors learn to do. She gets out of the way. Just like her co-host Allen Bestwick has done for years, Manske directs traffic and lets the attention be drawn to the news being discussed or the person being interviewed.

Given a fair chance by ESPN, Manske is continuing to grow into the role of a national TV anchor/reporter with solid results. After watching her struggle through the off-balance and "trendy" SPEED Report, many of us were curious as to how she would transition to the ESPN stage.

Say what you will, one of the big stories of this season's NASCAR Now has been the easy integration of Manske into the NASCAR on ESPN team. Her ability to talk effectively with a wide variety of racing personalities has been on display for some time now, and is only getting better.

When ESPN made the commitment to change this show, they took a risk on a former local TV station anchor who was appearing once a week on a one hour motorsports show. Now, it seems that gamble has paid-off and the network has found a reliable and credible co-host for this high-profile daily series.

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18 comments:

Geez said...
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Geez said...
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Ritchie said...

I also think that Nicole has done a great job with her new assignment. I never really understood the negative reaction to her. It all seemed a bit too zealous and mean spirited. Hopefully people have come around.

Anonymous said...

Nicole could replace DW & Larry. Mike Joy & Nicole would do a good job calling races.

Anonymous said...

the jury is still out.....but is open minded

Anonymous said...

Just curious, you've mentioned a couple of times that her contract with Speed was not renewed. Have you confirmed this? I'd been under the impression that she was not interested in staying at Speed, and had not sought a new deal there. Perhaps she might have stayed had she not been able to land the new ESPN gig, but I'd heard her departure was her choice, not their's.

TexasRaceLady said...

I have been pleasantly surprised at Nicole's transition. She has really stepped up her game.

Keep up the good work, Nicole.

Anonymous said...

Hair color change #1 already taken place. Just a matter of time before we see the outfits from last year coming out. Enjoy the "ESPN Manske" while you can kiddies because the old one will return.

Lisa Hogan said...

I make a point to watch Monday nights with Bestwick. The rest of the week is just hit or miss for Nascar Now and myself.

From what I've seen, Manske is a better reader than Burr and she doesn't do the distracting head bob and hand flap. :)

Anonymous said...

I remember Nicole on SPEED. Yes there is a difference. It is early yet, but I do notice a change. And wish she keeps the current change. It is more professional. And as she gets more into the swing of things that are NASCAR with driver interviews and good information. Maybe her on air talent will improve. Yes, the jury is still out, and am looking forward to better days each week. No we are not at the point to replace DW and Larry yet. lol.

Lou
Kingston, NY

Anonymous said...

My only requirement of Nascar 'talking heads' is that they know what they're talking about. Last year,I wasn't the least bit impressed with Ms Manske. Venturini is fantastic. Christa Voda has come a long way since Nascar Nation. Nicole is doing better,but the jury is still out.

Anonymous said...

Well said. After watching Eric Kuselias (who I like on football) struggle with Nascar Now, it is nice to enjoy the new version.

Manske has been a pleasant surprise.

Uncle Dan said...

I love Nicole on ESPN, however I have one problem...she is soooo pretty that I have a hard time even paying attention to what is being discussed. I guess I will have to get a grip one of these days.

Newracefan said...

I think Nicole is doing a good job for the most part. She gives the impression she at leasts knows a little something about the subject and she does pronounce the names correctly so she must do some research. She's no Wendy but then who is. I won't turn NN off when I see her which is more than I can say for what was happening last year

Anonymous said...
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Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 9:26PM,

SPEED changed the program format to rotating their existing anchors through The SPEED Report.

Drew and Nicole only worked one show a week, and did not participate in other events on the network.

The decision not to offer new contracts made sense, since SPEED was going to use the talent they already had in-house.

So, that is the reason neither Drew or Nicole was offered a new contract. The format of the program had changed. I hope that answered your question, and thanks for taking the time to ask.

JD

Newracefan said...

Was it me or was NN on thurs off. the sound from Michael McDowells interview was horrible and what was with bringing up his mothers death from cancer a few years back. What?? They also didn't seem to get that Michael was actually replacing Reut in th 00 not DJ in the 44 including Boris. Not one of their better shows

Anonymous said...

forget nascar and espn. she's the hottest hottie on tv. I watch the show just to see her.