Sunday, March 16, 2008

Tired TV Crews Need A Break (Updated)


It did not start out well for the NASCAR on Fox gang when the star of the show could not talk. (Updated info on DW in the COMMENTS section)

Surrounded by a veteran supporting cast, Darrell Waltrip is the center of the Fox NASCAR coverage around which everything else revolves. Love him or hate him, "old DW" really is the show.

After a long stretch of bad weather and lots of pesky illness going through the NASCAR garage, the TV guys just need a break. This feeling was clear on Fox as the Sprint Cup broadcast was just a little bit off from the network's normal presentation.

Why Waltrip was not moved to the Hollywood Hotel or given the day off is anyone's guess. If the network had moved Jeff Hammond upstairs for one race, or even called on SPEED's Phil Parsons to step into the broadcast booth, the viewers would have been better served. Some folks suggested asking Ned Jarrett to sit-in for a while, since he was the honorary starter.

All this was not to be, as TV viewers were subjected to hours of listening to someone who was clearly under the weather try over-and-over again to talk. The Fox executives made the decision to keep Waltrip in the booth, after having him croak his way through the Hollywood Hotel pre-race show.

Cold and wet weather affected not only the announcers, but also the NASCAR TV networks who struggled with some TV glitches throughout the weekend as well. Fox had computer problems which affected some in-progress graphics, but veteran Mike Joy was quick to keep the audience informed about the issue.

Joy had to deal with the new racing dynamic at Bristol, which actually featured racing instead of demolition derby action. His cool and calm manner kept things on-track even with DW ailing and the pit reporters having trouble hearing in the infield.

Larry McReynolds stepped-in to take a lot of the replay calls normally assigned to Waltrip, and McReynolds continues to be the most focused person in NASCAR TV. With Waltrip contributing on a very limited basis, Jeff Hammond was also asked to remain live throughout the telecast and his active participation helped to fill the gap.

Timing at Bristol is always tough, and Fox worked well to coordinate commercials. Unfortunately, just like ABC on Saturday, late commercials always seem to come when something major is happening in the race. Fox did well to keep viewers updated on what they missed, and kept the "Digger" cam to a minimum.

This year, the finish of the race was seen in a nice wideshot that allowed fans to see the final scramble to the line. What is missing is the graphic that pops-up the car numbers as they cross, so fans can know where their driver finished. Tracks like Bristol, Martinsville and Richmond are especially important in this regard.

A quicker than normal race left the crew to fill, and the veteran pit reporters did a fine job of catching almost everyone who needed to be interviewed. This time, Steve Byrnes drew the job of walking on thin ice and trying to open the door to get Tony Stewart's comments. Byrnes threw a softball, but he clearly was trying to get an answer out of a very frustrated Stewart.

Krista Voda did a nice job with Dale Jarrett. The always well-spoken Jarrett closed-out his career with a tough showing, and Voda kept the questions framed in the positive manner she needed to get DJ's "bigger picture" answers about his career.

Fox also recapped the Top 35 issue, which is going to become another weekly story beginning in Martinsville. Some big teams are on the outside looking in, and it is going to be a sad time if more historic NASCAR teams slowly fade out of the sport as the season progresses. This conversation was capped with a condemnation of points swapping in mid-season to allow certain teams and drivers to make the race fields.

Hopefully, after a week of rest and no travel, a refreshed NASCAR on Fox crew will be able to ramp-up the excitement of a tough old Martinsville Track.

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 and leave your comments.

70 comments:

Anonymous said...

JD, did you stop to think that maybe DW refused to be released of his Sunday duties thinking that he could possibly improve as the day went on? No matter what FOX executives said?

Daly Planet Editor said...

That is certainly a good suggestion. Perhaps, DW will write about his illness in a column this week so we will know that answer.

JD

Anonymous said...

Fox sure could use a break. The time interval on Fox has been either absent or messed up all year. They ran a top 10 and top 20 time interval most of the day.This is not acceptable. Any football or baseball game they show has usefull information at the top of the screen.When it comes to nascar that is not the case. If they put half the effort into time interval that they put into a cartoon viewers over the age of 12 would be well served.

Anonymous said...

JD, I thought the ticker was based on NASCAR Timing and Scoring. FOX does not have control over that department of NASCAR.

Wisconsin Steve said...

I'm not a big fan of his, but I thought Chris Myers did a pretty good job today. He really seemed to be on top of all the stories, especially in the long post-race show.

spring rubber said...

@ anon 11:00

I see what you're saying, but why is it never a problem for ESPN or TNT? There must be something wrong with the programming of Fox's ticker.

darbar said...

Fox's graphics were messed up for most of the race. Chris Myers did apologize for the problems with them only showing the top 10 for much of the race, but I don't know if this problem was with Nascar scoring or a problem with Fox's computer system.

It was uncomfortable listening to DW and his croaking voice. It sounded like he could have been the voice for Digger the Gopher. My bet would be that DW refused to leave the booth---we all know that egos run rampant in that business. I was touched by DW's reaction to getting the actual number 11 Mountain Dew car that he drove. Nice touch.

I do have a racing question, as they never seem to explain this on TV. For the first five races, the top 35 is made up of owner's points from last season. Even if you should drop out of the top 35 during the first five races, you're assured of a starting spot. But now that the first five races are over, and the new top 35 is established, are you allowed to be in the top 35 for the rest of the season even if you should fall out? I'm asking because Kyle Petty was in the top 35 for the first five races this season, even though he fell out to around 40th by the second race.

Anonymous said...

It's posible that DW was asked or cajoled into coming into work so the staff could do their surprise car presentation as planned.

SonicAD said...

darbar: no, it's just based on who's in the top 35 going into the race. If a car is just barely in there and gets passed, they'll have to qualify on time the next week.

The Mike said...

My guess, as anonymous said above, is that they wanted DW there for the presentation during the pre-race show. However, that still doesn't explain why he was still in the booth for the race instead of in the Hotel. I know some people are saying it was uncomfortable listening to his voice, but I understood that the man was sick, and it's not like this is an every week occurrence. I felt bad for him, not myself.
I believe DW was still contributing to the show by writing notes to Mike and Larry because a few times they said something to the effect of "and DW points out" etc, etc.
Personally, I don't know if I would classify it as "ego" as in not wanting someone else in his spot, but rather "ego" as in "I'm a trooper and can do this." Plus, if I was in his shoes, I wouldn't want to chance someone else getting in there. Look what happened to Allen Bestwick when he got hurt playing hockey - they put Bill Weber in and eventually, he replaced AB. I know they aren't going to replace DW, but why give the opinionated masses on the net an opening to even start something?

Anonymous said...

DW has his fans and his detractors (and I'm pretty firmly in the latter camp), but I give him credit for trying to tough it out.

However, Fox dropped the ball, as someone should have been the one with the guts to tell him to sit this one out. Instead of just cringing at his sometimes cornball comments, his sometimes misplaced enthusiasm, or his seeming allergy to criticizing anyone or anything, this time it was physically painful to listen to him.

After all, TNT knew to just let Larry Mac throw in the towel at Sonoma.

stricklinfan82 said...

I'm sorry that DW had to suffer like that all day long. He sounded terrible and certainly should have been given the day off. I admire him for hanging in there and trying though.

darbar,

The top 35 is subject to change every week. The top 35 from 2007 were used in races 1-5 of 2008. The rest of the 2008 races will use the top 35 going in to that particular race. So while the 26, 22, 40, 01, 45, 49, 78, 84, 21, 34, and 10 will have to qualify on time at Martinsville (barring any BS point swapping), any or all of these guys could race their way into the top 35 after Martinsville and knock someone else out heading to Texas. This will be a great battle to watch every week for sure.

drh277 said...

Are you kidding me? That was an awful, awful broadcast!! I was disgusted that Fox used a taped voice over in the beginning of DW saying his silly boogitty boogitty crap. Fox wants us to believe that DW did not know that the mountain Dew car was sitting outside? Come on i'm not a child. Dirty ole DW knew that was out there.

How about when they wanted to talk to DJ before the race started. We can listen to every word a driver says with trackpass but Fox can't figure out a 2 way radio to talk to a driver before the race?PATHETIC!!! These "veteran" reporters need a break after, what, 5 races? Let me repeat that, A BREAK AFTER 5 RACES??? If this was a espn broadcast everyone would be killing these guys. But since it's the good ole boys they just need a break.

A break? How about a few firings instead.

SophiaZ123 said...

Gosh, JD! And you think I come out swinging??

Anonymous said...

drh277,
Give it a break. You know NOTHING about what goes into these broadcasts.

Anonymous said...

Well stated drh277!!! Well stated!!!!

Anonymous said...

+ 1 for drh277 comments! Right on target!

David said...

Waltrip's croak at the finish, "I'm speechless," was apropos for both his condition and the race's conclusion. It was obviously a joke, but his strained performance throughout the race was the more painful joke. Maybe Waltrip did want to go on the air no matter what, but in one way, it was a distraction. In another, it reminded me of the race that Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished last year with about a third of his car missing. A heroic finish.

Anonymous said...

drh277, it's real easy for you to sit there and type about how easy th job is.

Until you actually deal with the logistics of producing a live race broadcast, however, you have no idea what can go wrong.

By the way, when you listen to Trackpass and your driver's got radio trouble talking to his crew chief (and they ALL do at some point), do you run to an internet board complain how "pathetic" the team is?

GinaV24 said...

JD, you say in your synopsis above that the viewers got a nice wide shot of the finish -- well, from my TV set, I saw the winner and a few cars come across then they went to Burton's celebration and since they weren't running the ticker, I couldn't tell where anyone finished until I went to NASCAR.com so I don't consider that I got what I wanted to see at all with the finish of the race. If they can use a split screen for pit stops, why not at the finish of the race. Yeah,great, the TV crews are tired, well, me too. I work all week every week and do my household stuff on the weekends. My next break doesn't come until Memorial Day weekend. Sorry, I don't buy it -- after 8 years of doing this, Fox's crew should be better than this and viewers shouldn't be complaining about the same stuff after all this time.

DW's voice was annoying -- I'm sorry he was sick, but after they did the presentation (which I enjoyed), he should have bowed out and let someone else take over in the booth. It is supposed to be the viewer's that are being served by the broadcast and I don't think this was a good decision. There were a lot of "glitches" in the broadcast. Using the stupid top 10 ticker instead of the full field when that is often the ONLY way you can tell where your driver is made me really unhappy.

Anonymous said...

Was there a problem with the ticker?

I use RaceView.

Didn't even notice the ticker wasn't updated.

bachief said...

drh277, -1

the pathetic doesn't lie in the broadcast crew but in the comments about the broadcast crew. As another poster said, you have know idea.
And John I still hate the anonymous, you don't know if the same person is patting himself/herself on the back for comments he/she made earlief under a given story. JMO

Anonymous said...

"Joy had to deal with the new racing dynamic at Bristol, which actually featured racing instead of demolition derby action. "

The "new racing dynamic" caused me to fall asleeep in the middle of the race and not wake up until two minutes after the broadcast went off air. It caused my wife to leave and go run errands.

This is the same thing that happened in the fall. Drivers love the new Bristol. Fans are bored by the new Bristol. Bristol tickets are going to lose their cachet and value very quickly if we have one guy leading for more than half the race and no Bristol "action", replaced by the "new racing dynamic".

Someone pointed to the improved FOX broadcasts and improved NASCAR Now on ESPN as the reason ratings are up. Nope. The reasons ratings are up is because Dale Jr is in the top 12 and has been the top finishing Hendrick driver for a few weeks.

Some of you will scoff. That's fine. But that is the ONLY reason the ratings have gone up in such a dramatic fashion. Jr has a chance to win every week, and that's brought a number of people I know who couldn't be bothered with Sunday races back into the fold. (Yes, I live in the South.)

But if NASCAR puts on this kind of show at Bristol for a few more years, watch the ratings and the attendance dwindle, Jr or no Jr. I'm not kidding. All people were talking about this morning at work (including one co-worker whose cubicle is a Jr. shrine) was how bad the race was and they're glad they didn't go in person.

Anonymous said...

Actually FOX really SUCKS on racing coverage, and Bristol was no different!

1. Their scrolling at the top of the screen was only for the top ten!!! Hey FOX!!! there really are 33 more cars out there!!

When they finally started showing the entire running order, they cut off at 20th place or so for various interruptions!!

2. Dumbest comments of the year???

Right after Harvick punted Tony out of the way and into the wall!! "Did you see Tony Stewart suddenly slow down in the corner not giving Harvick anywhere to go"??

And one wonders what the fan base is finding other things to do on a Sunday afternoon!!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daly Planet Editor said...

OK guys,

It sounds like the TV crews are not the only tired bunch out there. Let's get this discussion back on-track.

If you would like to give us your opinion about the Sprint Cup race on Sunday, it would be welcome.

As we have said since February of 2007, everyone has the right to voice their opinion and no one has the right to "tell" us the way things should be.

If you have an issue with another person making a comment, simply drop me an email and we will deal with it right away.

The rules for posting are on the right side of the main page, and we have used them with few problems for over a year now.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by and talk about the NASCAR on Fox presentation of the Sprint Cup race from Bristol, TN.

JD

Anonymous said...

Give it a rest, folks.

The race broadcast was fine. Not perfect, but fine.

Stop nitpicking and complaining when there are technical glitches. They happen to everyone.

No network will ever produce a race broadcast that will satisfy some posters on this blog.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the FOX crew did the best they could with unexciting Bristol racing. But yeah, NASCARs got a problem on their hands. Monte Dutton says (in his Notebook article on Jayski) the Bristol attendance problem has already started. Ticketholders remembered the fall race, I bet. So as the year goes on, the TV folks will have to make some unexciting racing exciting. Get creative!


"No-shows?

For the first time in years, there were empty seats. Certainly the crowd was near-capacity, but the vacancies couldn't possibly be chalked up to quick visits to concession stands. The empty seats in the turns undoubtedly numbered in the thousands."

Anonymous said...

The coverage of this race was awful. I've often wondered what could possibly be worse than DW in the booth. Turns out it's DW with a sore throat. Ridiculous amateur TV antics at their best. Whether it was the Fox execs or DW who made the call for him to be in there, it was the wrong one.

I understand Fox was having trouble with their race ticker, but they did a poor job of handling it. While we were constantly told of there being "technical issues," the director never adjusted for it. If we can't see what's going on past the top ten drivers, the director needs to get his camera crew to get more shots of the middle and back of the pack and then show them to us so we know what's going on.

Furthermore, the end of the race was handled poorly. I'm willing to give them a pass on the lack of a graphic at the end because they obviously were having issues with their graphics. But to then take the time to show Burton's wife whooping it up, and then a replay of her doing it, all while missing Burton getting the flag and celebrating was ridiculous. I'm starting to think the Fox Baseball and Fox NASCAR directors are part of some club where they're taught that it's great to show significant others and shots of people watching the game. The problem here, is that the directors job is to cut the race so that people at home have as close to an experience as they would have at the track/ballpark. When I'm at a NASCAR race, I spend very little time looking on top of pit boxes for shots of wives. I also, at baseball games, spend very little time looking to my left or right to see the emotion on the fan's face next to me. Somehow, Fox doesn't get this. Then again, why should we be surprised, this is Fox.

Thornton, Colorado said...

Although I certainly agree with several posters on the "soldiering" on with DW, I too was wanting him to bow out gracefully for the afternoon and get some rest. Whatever your job is, welder,administrative,forklift driver,etc., you can't make yourself sicker, and possibly affect those around you, getting them sick.
The time was ripe for him to call it a day, but it seems pretty evident that he was there for the "presentation". But the rest was painful. I kept waiting for the "nails on a chalk board" sound each time there was a pause by Mike Joy or Larry Mac.
BTW, DW does have an ego the size of Texas.
As I've said before about ESPN, I'll say it about ANY network:It's not about you, it's never been about you, and it never WILL be about you.
You provide a service, which we the fans as consumers pay for.

red said...

ok, so bristol yesterday wasn't the bristol of old -- got it. and the broadcast itself suffered technical gliches that made keeping track of who was where difficult (among other concerns) -- got that, too.

but for me? all in all? a decent race and a good broadcast. i doubt we're ever going to see the "crash-fest" of days gone by at bristol due to cot and track changes (not to mention having to race for points by the top 35 and for that precious top-35 owners points by the rest.) but i watch racing for the racing and there was a good deal of that to be found around the track. i doubt anyone can complain about the last 5-10 laps, either!

and i can't begin to imagine the challenges faced by broadcast teams when covering short track. i mean, races at my local dirt track are alot like bristol: lots of cars multiple laps down, leaders getting hung in traffic -- all that. still, i manage to keep track of my drivers and get to see some great racing. yesterday was like that for me as well. i used various sites' scoring systems to watch times and who was where so the ticker across the top wasn't an issue for me. maybe i'm just used to watching bunched up race cars, rubbing against each other without wrecking and tight finishes like we had yesterday.

dw's voice: c'mon, folks! for whatever reason, he stayed there and contributed to the coverage. if he'd left, he's be getting banged on for having abandoned his post. a true no-win situation but really, to me, a rather minor one to focus on.

my only true complaint was that, unike previous races, there was a significant lag in getting follow-up information about what we'd seen happen. for example: skinner's fire, #18 car's 'power steering' event (never did really get a good explanation of what happened and how it was fixed during the broadcast, altho' i heard about the deck lid repairs), the black flags that were thrown at various times and how drivers responded -- things like that.

could it have all been better? ahhh, i don't know. my "job" on race days is to gather as much information as i can about what's going on and appreciate when great racing happens. everything else is nice (at times) but never necessary. so, maybe i'm not the best judge. i do know that short track racing 'live' is REAL hard to follow for a casual viewer. i have to figure it's just as hard to broadcast to so many millions of people, each w/his or her own perspective, each watching for what is important to him or her. i wouldn't have that job for all the money in . . . no, wait, maybe i would!

Anonymous said...

You provide a service, which we the fans as consumers pay for.
Fox network TV is available over the air for free.

You do not pay for it.

The companies that buy advertising pay for it.

Thornton, Colorado said...

The companies buy ad time for it, yes. But who do you think buys their product?

earl06 said...

"Timing at Bristol is always tough, and Fox worked well to coordinate commercials. Unfortunately, just like ABC on Saturday, late commercials always seem to come when something major is happening in the race. Fox did well to keep viewers updated on what they missed, and kept the "Digger" cam to a minimum."

I can't agree with you here, JD. Of the first 50 laps, only 25 were shown. Taking a commercial break with 25 laps to go (missing laps 475-485) at Bristol is criminal. If not for the late cautions, FOX would have rejoined with less than 4 min. to go in the race. Very poor choices.

The gopher-cam was totally overused. It is useless on anything other than restarts.

red said...

thornton, colorado said...
The companies buy ad time for it, yes. But who do you think buys their product?

welcome to advertsing reality 101! the second half of the class will consider the choices you have available in response to that reality.

(disclaimer here: grew up in advertising family so i've lived with that side of the equation . . .)

Anonymous said...

The companies buy ad time for it, yes. But who do you think buys their product?
We do.

And, as ratings for Cup races have been up this year, the advertisers must be pleased that they spots they buy are being seen by more viewers.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Guys,

Easy on the ad stuff. We all know that in tough economic times we see no-shows at the track who have tickets but can no longer affort the other expenses that go with the travel and camping/hotel bills at a race.

I think we should be clear again that Fox only does the first part of the season, and then the Director moves on to other sports. This is not a fulltime NASCAR team, like we see with the NASCAR Media Group running the SPEED shows from the SPEED Stage.

Given time to reflect back on this race, I think things would have been done a bit differently. I hope we see the NASCAR on Fox crew address these issues on their blogs.

I would like to know who made the call to keep DW in the booth, and why?

JD

AndyPandy said...

The only problem I had with DW was that whenever he talked, it reminded me of good ol' BP when he returned after his cancer treatment and was very hoarse. I am a big DW fan and was very proud of him for sticking it out and trying to contribute as much as he could, especially if Larry Mac was telling the truth about DW writing him notes during the race to relay info to the audience.

To a previous poster - DW does have an ego the size of Texas, and without it, he would not have the successful career that he had in racing, and would be home watching the race from his sofa rather than from the booth.

red said...

jd, i understand the desire to determine why dw remained on air yesterday but i gotta figure if that's the one item that has risen to the top about the coverage, then things went pretty well!

i've gone to work in retail with a voice much worse than dw's -- spent all day talking with people, answering phones, ringing registers. all i received as feedback was a ton of (figurative) "attaboys" from folks for showing up & doing my job. voice like that isn't contagious -- just tough to listen to, i agree.

i have difficulty with how personal some of the posts become on sites: these folks are doing their jobs, just like the rest of us. only difference is that they are MUCH more visible to a MUCH tougher audience. dw showing up at work ill is not a whole lot different than any of the reporters --- AND DRIVERS! -- showing up ill earlier in the season. he didn't speak that frequently and when he did, all i could think was "wow, he needs to go home." i'm not a big fan of his but i give him a pat on the back for sticking it out. as i posted earleir, i suspect he was in a "damned if you do; damned if you don't" position.

and as a pure tv kind of question: if on-air talent says "nope, i wanna go all the way to the end," how much can the director actually do? maybe that's sorta the question you were posing, jd. i'm just asking so i can undersatnd the process.

Daly Planet Editor said...

red,

Good questions. The Director picks the video and audio sources that you see at home as the race is in progress. The Producer tells the story through replays and conversations with the talent and his Pit Producer.

In terms of DW, the Producer is responsible for the talent on the program. It is his ballgame.

While we saw John Roberts, Wendy Venturini and several others also ill over the past couple of weeks, only Wendy lost her voice. She resorted to using pieces of paper to do her pre-production work and then was OK to come on the air the next day.

We could debate this forever, it is just the difference between setting aside a critical element of the broadcast (DW), or keeping him in whatever shape he is in. Since Fox does not have even half of the season, I am sure DW wanted to "do" as many Cup broadcasts as he could.

Maybe during the "off week" I will do a breakdown of who does what in the TV truck and how that translates to the home viewer.

JD

Newracefan said...

Count me as someone who thought DW was being a trooper by staying and I missed his input on Sunday. I know he was passing notes and pointing some things out but without his ability to chime in spontaneously things were missed. DW is the guy that notices and talks about things going on back in the pack and tells us. Larry and Mike stepped up big time and the flow did improve. I was the one who suggested Phil Parsons but if he was doing Hotpass as someone said he would not have been available. Hotpass is not part of Fox and Speed so it's not as of they can just dump on their current employer for a one of event. That kind of stuff is remembered. Many of the usual suspects work for Hotpass so I am not sure who would have actually been available. Ned was in the booth for an hour or so last year for some broadcast with DJ which was really fun to listen to but I do not thing he could have handled being the go to driver for the entire race.
I do not use the ticker anymore but can understand why people would be upset if it was inaccurate. Between technical difficulties and noise level, follow ups were delayed let's hope it doesn't happen again cause that would mean they didn't learn from their mistakes.
Commercial timing was not the greatest but with the race having less cautions and ending early it threw the timing off leaving commercials left with 25 to go. Again please learn from your mistakes.
My pet peeve JD already commented on please give us the full field crossing the line but with a graphic on the side so we know who is where, between lap cars and shots of wives I get lost.
PS It would have been nice if they had shown DJ being driven around by Ned before the start of the race, that was cool and if I had not watched VL I would have missed it.

red said...

GREAT idea to do that breakdown, jd! despite having 2 daughters who were heavily involved in student tv production (even won student tv emmys, they have!), i still have limited understanding of who, exactly, does what on a RACE broadcast. if i understood that better, i could probably ask more intelligent questions and provide better feedback as a viewer.

so, pre-breakdown first question: is the responsibility chart the same for every sporting event or are there different jobs that are added/subtracted, depending upon what's being covered?
second question: do the same teams of folks cover the same sports? so, if you're "the nascar team", do you then cover, say, hockey at some point? or do you only cover motorsports. and what happens when your network isn't covering motorsports? do you get moved to something else?

ok, i now have about 15 other questions brewing so i'd best wait for that future column, eh?

Anonymous said...

I'd like to say that while I thought the camera focus on Kim Burton immediately after the race was excessive - one shot would have been fine - I'd like to commend Dr. Dick Bergerren for his interview with the Burton family.

I didn't mind that interview at all - like the Daytona 500, they had extra time in post race. Dr Bergerren does an exceptional job of asking very simple questions of family members (the Newmans, the Burtons) who are not used to being on TV, and I find that a nice addition to the broadcast when they have extra time.

Also compliment FOX on the shots of drivers and significant others during the invocation and anthem. And shots even before the invocation - lots of people, (not here) were talking about that nice pit road shot of Jeff Gordon's little girl wanting out of his arms so she could walk and Jeff bending over to help her walk.

ESPN is finally getting the hang of invocation/anthem shots after completely botching that section most of last season, but FOX has it down to a science.

Anonymous said...

I know the most NASCAR on FOX crew also does most of the NFL season with NFL on FOX.

Ken-Michigan said...

Some of our concerns on here could be put to rest if we got some kind of response from the FOX TV production team as a "follow-up" to the race coverage and go over some of the issues they think THEY struggled with at Bristol.

But, in fairness, they dont really "owe us" any kind of explanation and if I was part of that production team, I'm not sure if I would even respond.... it would be nice, but I dont really expect directors and or producers to give US the low down.

The Bristol telecast, in my mind, had a few issues, but in my broadcast career, I've always thought of my NEXT broadcast as the one that will be better than the last one. But FOX is going to have a tough challenge again at Martinsville in 2 weeks.

This "new car" is only going to provide for more conveyor type racing, very little passing and more than likely another less than stellar competitive nature to it.

Call me crazy, but I think the people in the production truck find themselves getting bored with the lack of on-track action.

For BRISTOL Coverage:
One of the first broadcast rules I learned was, if you dont sound good on the air, stay home. The listeners / viewers do not want to hear you. DW is a VERY good man, I cant wait to play golf with him again, but the call to stay on the air should not of been his decision.(if it was his) Whoever made that call to keep him in the booth, made the wrong call.

Lack of follow up on certain issues during the race. The Mike Skinner fire was first on my mind. That was just plain bad coverage.

On small tracks, with so much action somewhere on the track, the use of a split screen would be very nice to watch.

The scoring ticker issue is going to happen from time to time, I'm sure they attempted to correct it thru out the race, but hey.... what more can ya do? I think they did their best to give us the rundowns.

I cannot imagine how intense it must be inside the production trucks during these races.

If we all had the chance to visit the truck for a race, we would all, every last one of us, walk out of there with a higher respect for what they do. And only then would we realize, you can't make everyone happy during a televised event.

Keep up the good work FOX, I appreciate you listening to our concerns and thanks JD for the opportunity.

ttc said...

JD: With no truck race this week, my guess is that Phil Parsons wasn't in the building and thus unavailable to pinch hit for DW.

A better solution may have been moving Dick Berggren into the booth. From the TNN days, I still think Dr. Dick, Buddy Baker and Eli Gold were the all-time best TV crew.

Daly Planet Editor said...

UPDATE: Well, I would like to thank our friends over at Fox for helping us out with some information after reading your comments and my column today.

DW made the call to stay in the booth because he really wanted to be able to contribute. Even when he was not trying to talk, he was writing things down and pointing things out to the folks in the booth.

Apparently, there was some hope that his throat would get better during the afternoon and that just did not happen.

The scoring problems came from the NASCAR scoring stream which is made available to the TV networks and many others during the races.

Fox is also going to respond to the comments by continuing to switch the type of information contained in the crawls depending on the size of the track and the laps remaining in the race.

Tough to update the field when the leader is crossing the line every fifteen seconds or so and the entire scoring changes for the field every thirty seconds.

We should see the issues cleared-up at Martinsville, and we will look to see what the gang tries there at that short track with the scoring.

Like to thank once again the Fox gang for responding and giving us the inside scoop.

JD

Anonymous said...

Did anyone notice how many comments were made by the Fox crew that there wasn't an empty seat in the house? I don't know what they were looking at, but on my 50 inch plasma, I saw a number of empty seats at Bristol. And when one of the guys said something to the effect that no one leaves a Bristol race early, that was a bunch of bunk also. With at least 20 laps remaining, if you looked at the grandstands, a lot of people were walking up the stairs to leave.

So the question is: are they deluded or are they somehow encouraged by Nascar to make things sound better than they are? Everyone knows attendance is down, and you could plainly see the empty seats at Bristol, so why did they say, on more than a few ocassions, that there wasn't an empty seat in the house?

GinaV24 said...

Thanks for the info from the TV crew, JD, but I have another question based on a comment in your post.

You said "Given time to reflect back on this race, I think things would have been done a bit differently."

You don't think 8 years of broadcasting races twice a year at Bristol is enough time to have figured out how to best present a race?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Gina,

That is a great question, and I hope I have a good answer.

Events in sports TV land are moving targets. Weather, circumstances, level of competition and other factors make change a constant.

With the new surface, the new car, the new tire, and the huge amount of computer-driven graphics, this is always an interesting event.

If you have been a fan of Bristol for a while now, the changes are amazing. I think maybe some Monday morning quarterbacking might result in some different decisions about graphics, camera use and commercial placement withing the final fifty laps.

That being said, we get to talk about it and then the gang moves on to Martinsville.

JD

Anonymous said...

JD,you referred to Mike Joy's "calm and cool manner" during the broadcast.You weren't listening to the same broadcast as I was. Everytime their was an incident on the track,he screams out "trouble in turn four etc."and I MEAN SCREAMS! Besides ,he makes too many mistakes. Disagree?

CaseMoney said...

I didn't catch the condemnation of the point-swapping being planned by Roush and Petty. I wish they would condemn the ill-conceived "top 35" concept instead, which is the cause of the swapping.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 1:52PM,

What I was referring to was the on-going problems with timing and scoring. You can only imagine how that works on a track with laps under 20 seconds.

Mike has decades of racing experience on TV, and if there is a better person at play-by-play, I sure don't know him.

I think over the years and through the different networks he has mixed his calmness with just the right amount of excitement when things get a little chaotic.

It is a shame that Fox has over-commercialized the broadcasts now with sponsored re-starts and Digger merchandise and tons of billboards and features. The bottom line is, they have to take in more then they put out to get the rights to the races.

Certainly, everyone is entitled to their own personal opinions about the TV folks.

JD

GinaV24 said...

Thanks, JD, I appreciate your response and I suppose in a lot of ways it is a moving target each week. The trouble is, from this viewer's perspective, it is very frustrating to see the same type of thing happen on each broadcast. Sometimes watching a race broadcast every week is like being trapped in Groundhog Day. I realize that it is probably easier to Monday morning quarterback this than it is to pull all the threads together each week, but I think a lot of the fans who have been watching Fox since the beginning have some pretty high expectations of what we want to see on a TV broadcast. The good news for me is that I will be at Martinsville, so I can watch the race (the whole track by golly) from my seat and not have to watch commercials or only what the TV people think is important, when my priorities may be different. Thanks again for providing a place to air our gripes and praise (and for keeping up on track). Sorry if I sound grouchy about this week's broadcast in particular, but darn, it was Bristol.

Desmond said...

At first, I was going to condemn DW's decision to come to the track. But after reading that he thought his throat problems were going to be better, I won't be hard on him for this particular decision.

Kim Burton has actually been a favorite of the race producers and directors for many years. I remember seeing a shot of her late in a 1999 race that was shown on ESPN from Martinsville (and reshown a few months ago on Mid-Atlantic Sports Network).

The current mania, though, goes back to the 2004 pre-race ceremonies on FOX and was reinforced during the 2004 playoffs from Boston. FOX wanted to see the Red Sox fans mourn another loss to the Yankees; we all know what happened instead.

kenn said...

JD - Thanks to you and the folks at Fox, Speed, and ESPN for listening to us and answering your questions. I hope you Fox people will use a bit more patience when you read the comments of some of us who have a bit less understanding of how difficult live television sports is to produce. (There's an article in the current NASCAR Scene which gives an glimpse of this.)

I for one am grateful, even when things don't go as well as I'd like. After all, without you, I'd have no telecast at all.

Thanks for listening. kenny

P.S. Could you suggest to the folks at NASCAR.com and FoxSports.com that when the leaderboard gets 4 laps or more behind, it might make sense to drop the laps which are stacked up and go straight to current scoring?

red said...

jd, i agree w/all the commercialization by fox, altho' it does pay the bills. i guess i was just more aware of it yesterday than before, especially on the re-starts.

doesn't bother me, per se, as i know why it's there and i know it pays for what i'm watching. it's kinda like all the patches on the firesuits and decals on the car: that's what helps pay the bills. for that reason alone (altho' there are others) i can certainly live with it.

just part of the sport as it exist now and one can bang one's head against it until the pain makes all other thoughts fade (a viable choice in my world at times!) or one can say 'well, that's the price of doing business and hey! never heard that company is doing nascar -- cool!' and move on.

the recent lack of sponsors on the #27 has led to that great hood statement it carried this weekend. certainly hope some companies saw that and went "hey! that's one BIG number. maybe we should look into this!" (or banged their collective heads against a wall . . .!) in fact, another site i visit was pondering why earnhardt jr's #88 isn't getting more $$ than his old number was and someone cleverly went and listed all the sponsor decals carried on each car. i know i hadn't seen many of those companies and it made me wonder about them.

Anonymous said...

"P.S. Could you suggest to the folks at NASCAR.com and FoxSports.com that when the leaderboard gets 4 laps or more behind, it might make sense to drop the laps which are stacked up and go straight to current scoring?"

I think those delays have more to do with internet server delays Than someone controlling the leaderboard.

SophiaZ123 said...

I realize that commercials/commercial LOGO clutter 'pays for the races' but somebody needs to really-ize that the HUGE SPONSOR GRAPHICS, often COVERS the re-plays of an incident (Happened more than once!)

And the claritin restart blue car thingie going across my screen as the cars came back to green flag??

And the Digger Cam way, way overused.

Am I the only one here who feels this thing was named LONG before the rain delay marathon of asking for input? You don't get T shirts ordered and made that quick, as a rule, LOL.

anyway, I like Mike Joy and did not find him annoying at all..if anything, he was trying to keep the race upbeat and interesting. AND when the camera wasn't there, he WAS paying attention to let the viewers know what was happening. I for one appreciated that.

I hope they all enjoy their two weeks off as the rain delayed marathons and testing for the drivers, has made for a busier than USUALLY early part to the season...or so I keep reading.
That rain marathon in California alone was a lot for any workers to tolerate!

Anonymous said...

Personally I found it refreshing to actually have someone announcing the race. Rather than advertising the current fire sale at DW.com. Also refreshing was to only hear from "Froggy" every 30 minutes of so. I hope this continues.

Newracefan said...

JD thank the people at Fox for us, I for really appreciate the feedback. Hearing that it was DW's choice to stay does not surprise me and he did have a 50/50 shot of having his voice get better. I guess I am some what of a Pollyanna but I think the Fox crew will learn from their mistakes at Bristol and improve their race coverage this season. As we all know ESPN took a whole year to fix theirs (but at least they fixed them). OK Fox now don't disappoint me!

Anonymous said...

It was nice of Fox to respond. In regards to the time interval if it was Nascars doing that it was messed up and missing from the show thats understandable. However look at the tapes from the first 4 races this year. You will see that time interval has been missing lap after lap and is only put up sporadically.Espn has been able to keep the time interval up on the screen all year for the N.N.S. races.Whats going wrong on sundays?

Anonymous said...

I had no problem with DW attempting to contribute the race... love the effort....
as for the people complaining because they can't figure out the two way radio to talk to Jarrett...perhaps Jarrett decided not to answer... It was an emotional time for him and perhaps he wasn't up to talking. He may have thought he would be able to before the race and then wasn't able to at the moment... not to mention the noise level at Bristol...perhaps he didn't hear them....
I guess I'm just not one to ALWAYS criticize people... I was taught to be kind... :)
D

Delenn said...

First time responding this year for me:

1. Mike Joy is the best play-by-play announcer in the US today. (He might have a fight with Bestwick if he was not cooped up in the pit studio.)

2. Good for DW for making the effort. I thought the taped boogity was a bit naff though. He could have done a Wendy and shown three notices, or have Mike say it, or Chris and Jeff in time. Make it a bit funny.

3. Fox have had loads of graphics problems all year. This weeks were just very bad, although the ESPN2 Bottomline struggled last week.

4. Enough with Diggercam. Really. It was funny the first 100 times.

5. Chris Myers really is week by week. This week he was excellent, as he was at California. He was really annoying though at Vegas.

6. Large sponsor graphics. I know they pay the bills, but they really shouldn't cover up the part of the replay you want to watch. Remove them first!

7. Someone suggested that the Nascar on Fox crew were also part of the NFL on Fox crew, as if to make this an excuse. If you are on the Nascar on Fox crew, you should be excellent at producing a Nascar telecast. The fact you can produce an excellent NFL telecast as well is neither here nor there.

8. They should use people in the production crew who know what they are doing. I have noticed how many times Fox live are missing incidents, and not even cutting to them when the booth crew are screaming about them. The first we see is a replay. ESPN are still cutting to an incident midway through, but Fox seem to be, well, just darned slow.

9. And this is the biggie. Bristol just isn't Bristol any more. Fox really can't do anything about that. Being from the UK, I would have died to get Bristol tickets. I'm not so sure now.

Despite the niggles (you know who we mean gopher), Fox do generally produce a decent telecast, for which I want to thank them, but some of this stuff is Nascar 101.

Richard in N.C. said...

I do enjoy DW, but listening to him Sunday was painful. Given his history in NASCAR and at Bristol, and since he lives in Franlin, TN, I would have been shocked if he had not been at Bristol. I can imagine his stubbornness at not wanting to take a "sick day"- and also his sense of duty that he had to try if there wasn't a replacement on hand.

JD, is this a situation where the producer should have had (or could have had?) a replacement standing by in Bristol for DW?

Anonymous said...

Fox says:
"NASCAR on Fox posted a 5.0/11 for racing from Bristol Sunday, a +2% gain over the same race a year ago and the third straight week that NASCAR has posted a year-to-year increase in the metered markets. Season-to-date, NASCAR on Fox is now averaging a 6.5/13 in the metered markets, a +7% boost over last year's 6.1/12."

Anonymous said...

Delenn said

6. Large sponsor graphics. I know they pay the bills, but they really shouldn't cover up the part of the replay you want to watch. Remove them first!

This is the most annoying thing in this household. Nobody watching tv can see the replay.
I think SPEED hired all new people new to the sport. They are just messing up too much basic 101 stuff this year.
No excuse for that.
Sad and pathetic that dollar and graphics/toys comes before the racing more each year.

Anonymous said...

Trying is for losers. I only care about results. And the results of yesterday was a absolutley pathetic job by DW. If you go to work while you're sick, you must perform such that nobody knows you are having problems. DW disgraced himself and the network.

Anonymous said...

I didn't get to see all the broadcast but what I saw I found very interesting. With DW being down 7 cylinders, the broadcast focused more on racing. The cornpone was greatly diminished and the broadcast seemed to focus on something very novel . . . the race. Although I thought the overall production was still lacking as there was tons of story lines unreported, woefully underutilized pit reporters, confusing graphics (how relevant is a 43 car ticker that takes 20 seconds to cycle on a track where the cars lap every 16 seconds?) among other things that have already been discussed in earlier posts it was different to hear the booth talk about . . . the race. It was interesting and I kinda liked it.

In addition to those who could talk were talking about the race, DW's condition forced him to use his limited vocals to . . . only talk about the race. His call on Kyle Busch's power steering (if he actually made it) was stellar. I wonder if he would have made that call if he was in "full song?" I seriously doubt it.

Anyway, I found Bristol to be a very interesting broadcast-think of it as restrictor plate broadcasting.

Bristol tauts itself as racing the way its meant to be. Sunday's broadcast is moving closer to race coverage the way it was meant to be.

Bobby said...

Darrell wrote in his column that he wanted to do Bristol, but in that column he showed he was, and still is, a racer in his attitude.

"The first thing I want to say is I am so grateful and thankful for my great NASCAR on FOX broadcast team -- Mike Joy, Larry McReynolds, Jeff Hammond, Chris Myers, Steve Byrnes, Krista Voda, Matt Yocum, Dick Berggren and the folks behind the camera, Barry Landis, Artie Kempner, Richie Zyontz, Pam Miller and so many more. I am so proud of the work they do ... and Sunday, well lets just say it was the most frustrating day of my TV life."

That was written just like a racer who talks about his car and the wonderful crew. Everything about his health has been mentioned down to the employees, and like a driver explaining what put him out of the race, he explained what put him "on one cylinder" Sunday.

It seems Fox analysts have taken their racing mentality to treating the production truck like it's their crew.

But too, Darrell showed us some of the old-school communications techniques drivers used to communicate with the crew chief. He admitted he used hand signals (Larry probably deciphered the signals based on what crew chiefs tell drivers to signal about the car when radios go bad.) Extra notes (probably pen, paper, and some IM's) didn't hurt either. As they say, you have to do what you have to do in order to make the show.

And even at 5%, Darrell showed he wasn't giving up and could still go hardcore when it was needed. He caught the #11 car slipping in Turn 2 on Lap 505 (you can hear him groaning) probably, if he was in full song, would have left him saying "the #11 is having a fuel pickup problem!" quicker. He probably had seen the other cars' problems since he was related to taking notes and saw them.