Saturday, June 7, 2008

TNT And SPEED Marriage Off To Rocky Start


It was just the final practice session for the Sprint Cup cars at Pocono. Happy hour was in full effect as the teams tried to dial-in the COT for the long and hot run to come on Sunday.

Where NASCAR TV was concerned, it was the first time in 2008 that the TNT gang was going to be involved in a SPEED telecast. Calling the practice would be Bill Weber, Kyle Petty and Wally Dallenbach from the announce booth.

Down on pit road would be TNT veterans Marty Snider and Matt Yocum. TNT's own in-house studio announcer Marc Fein would be working down in the infield alongside of Larry McReynolds.

TNT announcers on SPEED is nothing new. During this part of the Sprint Cup schedule, the on-air talent move back and forth between the networks for one good reason. TNT only shows the races. SPEED handles all the other sessions, including practice and qualifying.

Instead of Weber or Fein, TV viewers tuning-in on Saturday afternoon heard the voice of SPEED's John Roberts. Once on-camera, he recapped the early practice session and then introduced SPEED's own pit reporters Bob Dillner and Randy Pemberton.

Both of these reporters interviewed drivers and also updated the news. Roberts then sent the network off to commercial by saying that practice would continue shortly. The entire time on the air, he never mentioned the TNT crew.

Returning from commercial, TV viewers now heard the voice of Marc Fein. This TNT announcer was now on-the-air, but never acknowledged Roberts or SPEED. He simply "re-started" the telecast as if Roberts and crew had never even existed.

Fein brought-in Larry McReynolds and the camera then showed the two men. They were standing on the Pocono infield blacktop in the high heat of summer in long-sleeved black oxford shirts that had the SPEED logo. No infield stage, no air conditioned building. Fein mentioned how nice it was of the network to dress himself and McReynolds in black. Things were about to get even stranger.

As Fein ended his segment and got ready to transition up to the booth announcers, the Director showed both sets of announcers side-by-side. Instead of the black SPEED shirts, all three of the TNT broadcast team were in blue oxford shirts with no logo. They wore headsets, so there were no microphones that had a network logo.

Fein asked Petty a question and Petty answered...with his microphone off. Welcome back Kyle. Weber and company never mentioned SPEED, never thanked the viewers for welcoming them back, and never even acknowledged they had been gone.

Veterans Matt Yocum and Marty Snider handled the garage area for the practice session and provided a solid presence for the telecast. The other two TNT pit reporters, Lindsay Czarniak and Ralph Shaheen, had participated in the Friday Cup telecasts on SPEED. This crew should be the backbone of the TNT season.

The Producer and Director put together the normally solid practice show that viewers have come to expect from SPEED. They focused on the action on the track, went to the garage area with a purpose and then returned to the cars running at speed. The graphics were informative and the video always made sense.

At the close of the session, Larry McReynolds appeared once again standing in the infield, this time by the gas pumps. Fein was nowhere to be found. McReynolds talked about fuel strategy and then was done. After a quick recap of the field, Weber mentioned "John Roberts and company coming up next." The TNT guys were officially done and sent the network to commercial.

As mentioned, John Roberts popped-up out of the break and guess what? He never mentioned Weber or the TNT guys. Roberts talked about the weather and then ran highlights of the happy hour session that viewers had just seen moments ago. Roberts actually ran down the same list of the fastest drivers in the session that the TNT guys had reviewed.

Once again, Roberts led viewers right back to "his" garage area reporters Randy Pemberton and Hermie Sadler. Pemberton talked to Matt Kenseth, and Sadler talked to his brother Elliott who was fast in practice. Elliott joked with Roberts about his RaceDay picks and showed the informal and fun style of the SPEED crew that viewers know all too well.

As Roberts closed-out the program, the fact that there were two very different "camps" trying to co-exist in this telecast could not have been more clear. This was a "show within a show" that made absolutely no sense to the TV viewer or even the NASCAR fan.

The "SPEED guys" and the "TNT guys" need to sit down and have a meeting. Fans were not well-served with these clashing agendas or clashing egos or whatever was happening. NASCAR has enough Hatfields and McCoys, the TV networks do not need to get into the action.

Two show hosts in Roberts and Fein was just plain ridiculous. Two sets of pit reporters was both bizarre and hilarious. TNT's lead announcers on-camera looking absolutely terrible was embarrassing. There have been four months of this season for SPEED and TNT to agree on what Weber, Petty and Dallenbach were going to wear on-camera.

SPEED has been with NASCAR fans since the network unveiled new coverage of testing back in January. This network has been a presence at every race track and on every weekend for the latest in NASCAR news and information.

Fans already know the players, and the new TNT guys are just temporary team members. Regardless of the fact that they will call six Sprint Cup races, they are not the big boys in this playground.

Maybe, by the next race the two groups will sit down and designate one host, one set of pit reporters and some common attire for the on-camera talent. Weber can be given permission to acknowledge SPEED and bring the informal style of the network to these telecasts.

There might be only six races where the "TNT guys" will work with SPEED, but there are six full months of racing for SPEED to cover until Homestead in November. NASCAR fans deserve better than they got on this Saturday and both networks know it.

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32 comments:

Anonymous said...

John. Is it just me or are you getting a little nit-picky. Honestly I don't care what kinds of shirts the guys are wearing or if they are holding a microphone or not. How does this effect us watching the broadcast?

Anonymous said...

I agree. The only thing you mentioned JD that I found had any meaning, was the fact that there were 2 sets of reporters. Other than that, I saw no problem.

Now while the reporter issue may be an interesting and funny over-use of resources, I see no other big problem with it.

Daly Planet Editor said...

That's a great question. Do you watch ESPN or Fox?

SPEED has been working well with both networks all season long since February.

On-air attire is only one point of this column, which is aimed at the fact that the TNT guys and the SPEED guys are not geting along on-the-air and it is easy to see.

Did you notice the two completely different sets of announcers? Did you notice John Roberts never even acknowledged Marc Fein or Bill Weber?

Remember how it has been this season so far? Mike Joy handled the Sprint Cup duties with DW and the same Larry McReynolds.

Everyone talked to everyone and the mood was fun and casual for practice. We even got to poke some fun at the color the SPEED folks picked for the shirts Joy and company wore while doing the SPEED shows.

Well, the TNT guys who were working for SPEED did not even have shirts. They looked like waiters or teen-agers in high school uniforms. Blue shirts and khaki pants.

The point is that round pegs do not go into square holes and some folks are going to have to check egos at the door to make the next five races work.

Why would Weber and company have a problem wearing a SPEED shirt while doing a SPEED show?

Can McReynolds and Fein not use the TNT infield stage for SPEED broadcasts? They were literally standing in the infield on the blacktop.

If you notice national sports TV broadcasts this weekend, you will notice what the announcers are wearing and you will notice the way they relate to each other.

This is TV, not radio. Professional appearance is key to credibility with viewers.

Something is not quite right here, and if I find out some more info I will certainly pass it along.

JD

Anonymous said...

I disagree, think you might be nitpicking.

Daly Planet Editor said...

I asked a lot of questions in my answer and you did not address any of them. This is a good topic, so I am sorry you did not contribute.

Anonymous said...

I asked a lot of questions in my answer and you did not address any of them. This is a good topic, so I am sorry you did not contribute

I am actually in the process of watching the final practice again, now that i have read the article, I will see if it actually bothers me. Give me 40 minutes...I love DVR

Mike said...

I didn't watch the practice today, but my thought is this: what happened last year? Wasn't it the same setup?

Its definitely odd that one group didn't acknowledge the other, but does that go back to Speed being Fox owned and TNT wants to keep the Fox/Speed guys (outside of Larry Mac and Yokum) out of it? Is it that simple or does it go deeper?

Anonymous said...

I, too, managed to miss the conflict - possibly in the waves of relief that I no longer have to put up with DW et al. I didn't mind the coverage at all. Kyle Petty and Wally Dallenbach have plenty of credibility with me no matter what shirts they're wearing.

saatuk

Richard in N.C. said...

JD- Since TNT is part of Time Warner, do you think maybe their on-air gear was to be delivered sometime between 2:00 and 5:00?

Matt said...

I agree that two hosts are rediculous, but SPEED has always used two sets of pit reporters, even when teamed with the FOX guys.

alex said...

Maybe their clothes were accidently delivered to Daytona, since they think this is the "first race of the season".

Daly Planet Editor said...

mike,

Thanks for making my point. This was a big part of the problems for this TNT crew last season. Their attitude did not fit-in with what SPEED has been doing all season.

saatuk,

I guess you will have to tell me where Mr. Dallenbach gets his NASCAR credibility. I think he is a funny and nice guy on-the-air, but he has no clue to what is going on with the COT or the current crop of young stars. His lifestyle and location has nothing to do with this sport. Last season, it was suggested by readers many times that if Larry Mac was moved up to the booth with Kyle, TNT would have something going. What are your feelings on that?

matt,

You will have to help me with that one. I get the SPEED list of announcers every week, and there has always been one set for each practice and qualifying. They rotate programs, but this show has two completely different sets of pit reporters who did not even acknowledge the other "team" existed. It was just weird.

Alex,

With the money that SPEED is spending on clothes to make their new HD channel look good, they are crazy to have the problems they are now having. One of my friends who is a "color consultant" cannot believe the choices SPEED is making. Most networks have highly paid folks who "dress" the on-air talent or approve of what they can wear. Even local TV stations do it.

JD

AMS fan said...

I did notice they didn't seem to play well together.
Please don't bash me, JMHO
I don't think this post is nit picking, just a discussion regarding how we viewed their program. That's what's cool about this blog.
As far as JR starting then a break and back to Marc Fein, it surprised me. I new something wasn't right. Nothing was required of them, but JR could have sent it up to the booth, or where ever like normal. That would have made more sense. I saw the black shirts and thought someone needs a talking to. Maybe in an air conditioned room or 60 degree weather, not outside in the sun.
They seemed a little uncomfortable, but it was OK.
Then came the booth.
I noticed their plain shirts right off. Looked funny, since we are SO used to seeing shirts with a network and of course a SPONSOR (ha ha) on them.
JD wrote, "Fein asked Petty a question and Petty answered...with his microphone off. Welcome back Kyle.” Did you hear Kyle mention TNT in his answer? No references to Speed but he mentioned TNT.
I think it's great that Speed is flexible enough to let "other" broadcasters show up on their channel. Everyone should be on the same page though. If they don't want to wear Speed shirts, fine, Speed people in the booth.
Thanks to TNT for not getting in the way of Speed broadcasting all the pre race action.
Networks, you got a good thing going on, just play nice, let us see what's happening, and everyone is happy.

Daly Planet Editor said...

ams fan,

TNT and SPEED have a prickly relationship. Other than doing the races themselves, Weber and Dallenbach and Fein are not involved in NASCAR TV at all.

SPEED does not need the TNT guys to handle anything for them, including the practices and qualifying.

Folks who have been moved aside for the Fox crew now have a chance to step-up and shine before ESPN comes along and ends it all for SPEED.

That is why the next six race weekends will feature new talent combinations on the practice and qualifying shows. SPEED owns the rights to those events.

I understand that to the casual TV viewer shirts and clothes and colors do not mean a lot, but in the sports TV world, millions are spent on clothes every season.

Click around the dial this weekend to FSN Regional Nets or ESPN or the Golf Channel. Then what I am saying may make more sense about attire on the air.

JD

projectpappy09 said...

JD,

I didn't get a chance to watch Happy Hour, but it sounds like there is a big problem. Why doesn't SPEED just let TNT do their own thing for an hour and a half, or tell TNT that they will cover qualifying and practice only using SPEED's talent and resources?

I guess a better question would be, why doesn't TNT cover these practices, which they used to do in the early days of the previous TV contract?

Wisconsin Steve said...

Personally, I don't care if the two broadcast teams acknowledge or like each other or not, as long as they put on a decent broadcast (which I thought they did).

As for Dallenbach, I enjoy his analysis for the same reason JD thinks he has no NASCAR credibility. Because he is removed from the sport for most of the year and has fewer connections with the garage than analysts like Waltrip or McReynolds, I find his opinions to be more honest and bias-free.

SophiaZ123 said...

I was kind of half watching the show this afternoon but thought I missed the intro of the TNT gang...I missed the guys in the hot sun in LONG sleeved black oxford shirts.

But guess what, the shirts made it onto NASCAR Perf with Chad and is it Doug Richter filling in for Bootie.

Larry Mac had on a pale blue shirt but I could barely watch the show. Our house is a hot, conservative 78 degrees (due to high utility bills) and with the heat and high dewpoints of swamp weather, I was shocked to see BLACK LONG sleeved shirts.

Yes clothes are important on tv. We are not talking cleaning out the garage folks. I still remember the oversized wrinkled shirts in the Fox booth a couple months back (either gray or khaki)

anyway, SPEED better get somebody with better summer ideas and colors for tv. It's ludicrous this has to be commented on as tv attire should blend into the show and not distract imo.

I don't find it nit picky anymore than I loathe and detested the high chairs on INC a couple years ago and the high chairs on Monday's NN....I never DID get used to the chairs on INC as Kenny Mikey and whomever LOOKED uncomfortable. The NN guys have made it work.

But even tonight on NP it was odd...yes it was night time but it's more suitable for fall...NOT 90 degree days with dewpoints in the 70's.

Oh and we have fans all over the house to help deal with the high AC temps but turn it down to 76 for sleep. But watching NP tonight made me get a glass of ice water lol...I bounced back and forth between the show and IRL race.

Bill H said...

JD

I only watch TNT 6 weeks out of the year so I was wondering? Do Weber and Dallenbach do anything else on that network during the "off season" or do they just show up for the "summer season*" and then go back to their day jobs when it is over?

I didn't watch the Happy Hour yesterday, I made the mistake of seeing the speeds online and after that, well.... but I was wondering, did the TNT announcers carry on the Kyle Busch story that has been "beat into the ground" / prevelant this season or did they find a new subject?

BillWebz

* TNT's term for their 6 weeks.

Geez said...

I kind of like Wally. I don't know why, he's just kind of there telling me what I want to know.

JD, as for replacing Wally with Larry Mac, I recall Pocono last year when it rained, that Kyle and Larry just sort of took over the broadcast and it was great. As a matter of fact it was one of my highlights from last season.

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

As for Dallenbach, I enjoy his analysis for the same reason JD thinks he has no NASCAR credibility. Because he is removed from the sport for most of the year and has fewer connections with the garage than analysts like Waltrip or McReynolds, I find his opinions to be more honest and bias-free.

Amen!! I really don't care where Wally currently lives or what his lifestyle (ranching) is. I like his plain spoken-ness and don't have to sit and consider all his conflicts of interest every time he comments, which is what I have to do with every other on-air personality. I'm surprised he's getting attacked before he's even done a race this season.

Doesn't he have a kid in some aspect of racing? That would seem to require him to keep up with young"stars" at least a little.

I understand that to the casual TV viewer shirts and clothes and colors do not mean a lot, but in the sports TV world, millions are spent on clothes every season.

These NASCAR folks, on every partner network, are NOT spending millions of dollars on clothes every season. If they were, Wendy V and others wouldn't do their own hair and makeup. The ones who have enough "juice" to get it written into their contracts probably have a very small clothing budget, not a huge one.

Honestly, I'm a devoted viewer, not a casual one, and I couldn't care less about the color choices made by SPEED and or TNT as long as they are dressed neatly. They obviously try different shirts/colors for different weeks so they don't look the same on air every week. The ONLY shirt I have ever noticed on TV negatively was the untucked Hawaiian shirts worn occasionally by the SPEED crew, I believe in Florida. And yes, I know what color consultants are and know my "shades/season".

This is much ado about nothing IMO. And good luck to Wally, who I think deserves a bigger role in NASCAR TV than six weeks on TNT.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 11:06AM,

I would appreciate it if you would talk about fact as fact and opinion as opinion.

ESPN spends millions alone on clothing and wardrobe. Currently, it is one of the biggest headaches on SPEED because of their recent expansion of programming.

Wendy doing her own hair and make-up have nothing to do with the point of this column.

Did you see the Fox guys this season? Do you see Mr. Bestwick and crew on ESPN? Ignoring the obvious does not make these problems go away.

As I mentioned in my column about Dallenbach, he is a great guy. So is Boris Said, but neither of them has anything but a very limited NASCAR background. That is perhaps why Kyle Petty is also in the booth.

Sports TV folks do not put clothes in their contract, the network provides attire, which is the entire point I am trying to make. Either Weber and company is going to be part of the team or they are going to find themselves on the very same small island they were on last year in TV land.

JD

Anonymous said...

My opinion is just as valid as yours, JD, and I'll put my facts about clothing and TV sports against your anytime. ESPN might spend millions overall, but NASCAR on ESPN/TNT/SPEED does not.

If you don't know any on-air sports folks with clothing budgets, then you don't know very many on-air sports folks. Much of the clothing is provided, but the top-tier folks still get an additional budget to use at their disrection if it's written into their contract.

Wendy doing her own hair and make-up have nothing to do with the point of this column.

It goes to the point that if these NASCAR partners were spending millions, they would have hair and makeup stylists on staff for on- air talent. You must realize that hair, skin, and makeup are just as important as clothing since you are are a TV consultant. You made the point that clothing was important several times above. Since you did, you can't say that hair and makeup have nothing to do with this column because they all go together. You wrote:

"TNT's lead announcers on-camera looking absolutely terrible was embarrassing. There have been four months of this season for SPEED and TNT to agree on what Weber, Petty and Dallenbach were going to wear on-camera."

"Well, the TNT guys who were working for SPEED did not even have shirts. They looked like waiters or teen-agers in high school uniforms. Blue shirts and khaki pants."

"If you notice national sports TV broadcasts this weekend, you will notice what the announcers are wearing and you will notice the way they relate to each other."

"This is TV, not radio. Professional appearance is key to credibility with viewers."

"One of my friends who is a "color consultant" cannot believe the choices SPEED is making. Most networks have highly paid folks who "dress" the on-air talent or approve of what they can wear."

And you think the color consultants don't focus on include hair, skin and makeup? If you're going to nitpick, realize it all falls under the same nitpick, not just the color of shirts you seem to be fixated on.

And:
"Wally Dallenbach, Jr. (born May 23, 1963 in Basalt, Colorado) is a former NASCAR Winston Cup driver. He competed in 226 Winston Cup races from 1991 to 2001."

That seems to be quite a lot of NASCAR experience to me. More than Boris Said has or will ever have.

Remember: your opinion is just your opinion.

Daly Planet Editor said...

John Roberts just ended RaceDay by asking viewers to turn to Fox and watch the Formula-1 race!

I guess the boys are not too happy about being moved up to not conflict with the TNT pre-race show.

Come on, tell me there are not some hard feelings going on in the TV compound.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Hey, imagine that...blue blazers have suddenly appeared....hmm....

Anonymous said...

Daly Planet Editor said...
Hey, imagine that...blue blazers have suddenly appeared....hmm....

June 8, 2008 12:33 PM

You surprised they have "Practice Wear" and "Race Day Wear" !!!

SophiaZ123 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joel said...

JD-
John Roberts pitched actual racing on an affiliate network until the Cup Race starts...why wouldn't he...they just finished 2 hours of prerace coverage, why would you ask your audience to watch more prerace? You have a huge conspiracy theory complex...but I guess that sells, huh?

Richard in N.C. said...

JD- Was the RaceDay move for TNT's benefit or because of the F1 race in Canada being shown on FOX? Am I correct that the earlier time for RaceDay is permanent for the rest of the season? or just for the 6 week TNT season? or just for this week? Thanks.

Daly Planet Editor said...

joel,

Did you read the posts above?

RaceDay has been on the air since February and never has the Lead Announcer told viewers to go watch another sport on a Sprint Cup Series RaceDay.

As you may know, RaceDay ends normally with another network starting the Sprint Cup coverage.

Sunday it was TNT. Those are the facts. Where is your issue with those?

JD

Daly Planet Editor said...

richard,

We do not know yet. I have an email into SPEED asking about that very issue. Should be interesting to see what they do for the ESPN/ABC run.

JD

Anonymous said...

John Roberts has told the audience to watch the F1 race as he was ending the show before. It was last year when the f1 championship was on in Raceday's normal timeslot and Raceday aired two hours early. I believe part of the f1 championship aired against the ABC countdown show but not the NASCAR race itself.