Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Kenny Schrader Returns To SPEED On Monday Night

The transition from the three-man panel of Inside NEXTEL Cup to the slimmed-down two-man version of This Week In NASCAR has been a tough one for SPEED.

There are lots of logistical and operational reasons why three voices work better than two on TV. Fundamentally, conversations become discussions when a third voice is added. It also takes away the personal agendas and forces the participants to respect the opinions of the other panelists. There is no "me against him" when there are three. The addition simply does not work.

Every TV talk show that has a regular panel of experts has one "senior statesman." Love him or hate him, that person has earned the distinction of being the leader of the pack.

Sometimes, it is because their professional experience is outstanding. Sometimes, it is because their personality is integral to the show itself. Sometimes, it is because they can keep the other panelists in-check with only a look.

For over a decade, Kenny Schrader has been all this and more to SPEED's longest running weekly series. From the early days of Inside Winston Cup Racing on SpeedVision through the final days of Inside NEXTEL Cup during the Dave Despain era, it was Schrader who worked hard to keep the rudder in the water and the ship on course.

As SPEED changed over to the new show, Steve Byrnes was brought-in as the new host. The network went for experience specific to NASCAR and utilized their most versatile announcer to carry the load for the new program and format.

In a smart move, the network announced that the "esteemed panel of experts" would be kept in place and that both Greg Biffle and Chad Knaus would become regular panelists. Adding a crew chief perspective to this show struck many as a strong move.

As the new programs began to air, it was clear that several things were different. First, the program was saturated with video. From highlights to interviews to features, the show was no longer about conversation. The panelists were mostly reacting to the video.

The second thing was the format. After a brief chat with both panelists about their race weekend, the program left the present and entered the future with an extended preview of the next Sprint Cup race. Even when the race was two weeks away, this is the format the program followed.

Viewers had to wait until thirty minutes into this hour program for Byrnes to return the discussion to the race weekend that had just ended one day earlier. In a good example of putting the cart before the horse in TV, the production team decided to talk about the future before the present. For fans tuning-in to get the inside scoop on the stories of the weekend, this was a tough switch.

The final issue is one that will be solved on Monday night at 8PM Eastern Time. Since the program format and title change, there has been no Ken Schrader on SPEED. As the "senior statesman" of the former panel, the good humor and veteran perspective of Schrader has been sorely missed.

Like it or not, the panelists currently involved in Cup racing are always going to reference and relate to their own teams and circumstances. Often, with only two panelists, viewers feel like they are getting the Roush and Michael Waltrip Racing perspectives. With Knaus, almost every comment seems to include the work "Jimmie."

Now, Schrader returns to the Monday night show with his long-time sidekick and self-appointed NASCAR spokesman Waltrip alongside. Even without a third voice, it should be interesting to watch both the old and the new on-air dynamic of this duo play-out.

Schrader will be facing a much faster-paced show that includes a ton of video and sometimes feature reports that seem to be added for no particular reason. There is often no groundwork in-place for the sudden appearance of various NASCAR personalities on this program.

It will be up to Schrader to determine his on-air relationship with Steve Byrnes and begin to help this bland show develop a personality. Last week's program featured an energized Waltrip and a well-spoke Biffle, but it needed one more voice. Byrnes cannot put Waltrip in his place when he goes off on a rant, and he can also not quiet down Biffle when he starts to expand on how great things are at Roush Racing.

This is the role of only one man, and he has earned it. He earned it by showing up when no one was watching SpeedVision and the show had a cult following of only a small group of fans. He earned it by dealing with the program being cancelled once, expanded to ninety minutes once and then having half of the on-air talent fired in one day. He stayed through the good times with Allen Bestwick and the bad times with Dave Despain. Set changes, wardrobe changes, format changes...Schrader has seen it all.

Monday should be an interesting time for all kinds of fans. Veterans may want to set the DVR or the VCR as SPEED is hesitant to talk about Schrader's continued role on this program. New NASCAR fans may simply want to enjoy the kind of perspective that only someone with Schrader's unmatched racing experience can bring to TV.

Either way, Monday evening at 8PM should get circled on your TV guide. Hopefully, Schrader is in good spirits and ready to experience the new surroundings. While he always brings his sense of humor, in this case Schrader might want to check and see if he packed his rudder. Getting this show back on course is going to be a priority.

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red said...

wooooo hooooo! i cannot wait for monday!

Lou, Kingston,NY said...

Looking forward to have Kenny back. He has a tall order to fill. Your comments relate to his long standing association w/the program and the respect he so well deserves. I so remember his days on Speedvision. We have come a long way. Welcome back Kenny.

Andrew S. said...

The voices crying the wilderness have finally been heard. All I can say is that is about dang time.

Newracefan said...

I'm so excited I don't think I'll be able to sleep. Kenny we missed you, Speed please make him come every week and expand the panel!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

PammH said...

hurrah!!!! Can't come soon enough, imo-the show needs HELP desperately!! And Kenny can help it turn around. Now, if they would only listen to our other complaints. I just tape it & listen to the last 30 mins or when the guys are talking. Have NO interest in the taped secments-have seen most of them a bunch of times before.

Vince said...

Sorry, I've had all I can take of Mikey, the walking infomercial. Plus you'd think he's on Nascar's payroll as much as he sucks up to them.

As much as I like Kenny, I'll stick to watching NascarNow's round table on my Mondays. TWIN's lost this former viewer from the SpeedVision days. I don't even bother to waste my DVR space with it anymore.

Anonymous said...

Awesome! I can't wait to hear Kenny's perspectives on Talladega at 8:03 Monday night!

SophiaZ123 said...

Well, I love Mikey and think THIS SHOW is an infomercial for SPEED and between that and the back ass format, not sure Ken can save it either.

Not sure I will tape the late edition until I read about it here. SB really gets on my nerves and it's not him but his opening the show with LIVE talk and then moving on to the DREADED VIDEO of the NEXT race, followed by the last years race video of the next race.....sigh.

Thanks for the heads up but Unless Schrader can get this show OUT OF REVERSE and going forward, this bait and switch of having Kenny back ain't fooling this dame.

A merry go round going backwards is still backwards, even if you put fun riders on it.

Anonymous said...

Schrader! Schrader!

I can't wait! Go Schrader Go!

Anonymous said...

I think it is great to have Schrader back. His self-depreciating sense of humor and down to earth persona are huge helps in keeping Mikey's "a now a word from my sponsors" under control. He relates to the fans and is credible in his reviews of the topics discussed. Now, they need to look at their format-go back to a review of the race from the weekend and it's highlights with the panel's insight into what actually happened before looking ahead to the next event. If we as fans are looking to understand what's on the horizon for the next race; it helps to know the what and why that happened yesterday that changes the perspective. I have been a fan of Speed's various Monday night Nascar shows, but the current one just doesn't work for me. I hope having Kenny back is a step in the right direction.
I can't help but think of an interview in the garage with Kenny when his car was wrecked early in a race and the reporter asked if the team could get him back out again to which he replied (with a humorous tone) "Unfortunately they can"

Truck Series Fan! said...

That's one and a half thumbs up! Now SpeedTV needs to remove Knaus and some of the video and we should see an improvement in this show.

Lisa Hogan said...

Great news, indeed!
Looking forward to seeing Kenny!

Blair said...

Can't wait to see Kenny back on the show. Same for my 4 & 5 year olds! We watch a lot of SPEED's NASCAR programming as a family.

While we love the personalities on the show, Steve, Chad, Mikey, and 'the Biff', it just doesn't work for us. But, in our opinion, it's not the people on the show (we even liked Dave's version!), it's whoever is calling the shots in their headphones! The guests and leader already have been chosen for their personality....give them free reign to show it.

Our MAJOR gripe is that there is already enough pre race coverage each weekend on Thur/Fri/Sat/Sun. We don't need it to start within 24 hours of the last race! If you just gotta do it, save it for the last 10 minute segment like it used to be.

Anonymous said...

I am confused.
Was Schrader dropped and re-hired, or was he not available???

Anonymous said...

Good news in what has been a disastrous week!

Tracy said...

Will TWIN ever post the payout for each race as was done on INC? It was fascinating to see who won how much, and the differences.

SophiaZ123 said...

Blair Said"

"Our MAJOR gripe is that there is already enough pre race coverage each weekend on Thur/Fri/Sat/Sun. We don't need it to start within 24 hours of the last race! If you just gotta do it, save it for the last 10 minute segment like it used to be."

We have posted that sentiment a hundred times.

I think even if ONE MILLION people posted on that here and elsewhere, SPEED would not relent and STOP cramming a backwards show and snooze inducing videos (ESPECIALLY at the opening) that cause us to doze off, change the channel or in my case, STOP watchin TWIN.

It's said if sneaking in what, 8 minutes of actual "talking" with just Kenny and Mikey is supposed to improved this show.

I love KS, don't get me wrong but this is putting a band aid on a show that needs open heart surgery.

What good is the fine treat of having Kenny on if we can't hear him talk and tell stories.

Can't wait to read the comments AFTER this airing.

Anonymous said...

SophiaZ, as a relative NASCAR newbie, has it dead-right from the start: this show is but a pale shadow of what once was. Until the FOX suits figure out that this isn't the NFL we're not going to have a unique show that reflects the rich culture of NASCAR.

And even with the incredible chemistry between Schrader and Waltrip, that's still only half of the formula that worked for so long.

I have made it a point to watch ESPN's formerly unwatchable show each Monday for the past 3 races, and it's flat-out a much better show.



Anonymous said...

Good to hear Kenny is least for 1 show. This will give me a chance to execute my plan. I am going to make note of every sponsor in the "next week's race" segments and superfluous videos. I will then email each sponsors' marketing group explaining how many of us fast forward through those segments and they are wasting their money!! Probably won't change anything, but it will make me feel better. PS...I too love Mikey, but he was really getting on my nerves with everything is great. Every race is not great, it just happens sometimes so get over it. Doesn't mean I won't watch, just means it was boring!! Diane

Anonymous said...

It's about time!!! I'm SOOOOOO excited!!!!! The network obviously underestimates us fans and how much we love Kenny Schrader and the unique sense of humor and perspective he brings to the show. They just need to put him back on regularly and stand by the saying, 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'.

Anonymous said...

halleluya ! No more, " they need Kenny back " moments during the show. Speed - you finally got it right!

Mike said...

Amazing, truly amazing. It looks like our griping & moaning after all could have contributed to the changes The Big Guns @ FOX & SPEED should have done 6 weeks ago. Just one more change has to be made, and we all know what that is !!!!

Anonymous said...

This will be the first time I've looked forward to watching in several weeks. WELCOME BACK SCHRADER!!!!

Now SPEED, lose half of the video and show a five minute preview of the next race at the end of the show and we'll be okay.


Anonymous said...

FINALLY Speed realizes the show isn't a show with out the GREAT KENNY SCHRADER............ I am just surprised it took them THIS LONG to figure out what is wrong is that its missing Kenny!!

Thanks for an awesome article and showcasing Kenny... much deserved showcase!!!


Anonymous said...

ve said it before. This show is about entertainment. There are a dozen other boring shows that deal with the mundane and mechanical. I watch it to laugh not her that other BS that Despain or Speed Report shows all the time. Mike and Kenny are who they are and that's what makes the show good. It goes bad everytime they try to make it something it's not.

When was it best? When Mike, Kenny and JB were there with AB. And the show was a success too with no one trying to fix it all the time.

If you don't like it, QUIT WATCHING IT. I hate for ytou to have to suffer.