Monday, July 14, 2008
Ryan Burr Handles "The Roundtable" Live
Allen Bestwick is off on a scheduled vacation, so ESPN veteran Ryan Burr stepped-in to host the Monday one-hour edition of NASCAR Now.
Burr is known for his fast-pace on-the-air, which he learned from hosting the thirty minute "wheels" of news on the ESPNEWS Network. Putting the Chicagoland highlights on hold, Burr led his three panelists into a candid discussion of Ryan Newman being released from Penske Racing.
The panel this week consisted of first year ESPN commentator Ray Evernham, NASCAR Now contributor Boris Said and veteran ESPN reporter Mike Massaro. This group struggled to get some energy and excitement going last week with Bestwick at the helm. Burr was determined not to let that happen again.
There was a sharper edge to this program because of Burr's rapid-fire style. He had the panelists answering his questions quickly and then he would just pick right up where he left off. Rarely has a Monday panel run through the Sprint Cup highlights at such a quick pace.
The key to this program was that Burr was well-prepared. While Bestwick is one of the most experienced NASCAR TV veterans, Burr clearly took the time to get his ducks-in-a-row where highlights and questions were concerned. Sometimes, hearing Burr ask questions that were slightly naive was a bit different. It gave the panel the opportunity to address more fundamental issues than would normally be discussed.
"It wasn't the most exciting race from start-to-finish," said Burr about Chicagoland on Saturday night. He pointed the panelists to the issue of whether Kyle Busch had won the race on the last two laps or Jimmie Johnson had lost it. Burr hammered the point that Johnson was clearly upset that he could not handle Busch in a shootout.
One interesting aspect of this entire hour was Burr's effective handling of Boris Said. Burr used a very "short leash" with Said, aiming specific questions at him that called for specific answers. Burr worked Evernham and Said in tandem where racing issues were concerned and it paid-off.
The program used "soundbites" from Chicagoland throughout the broadcast to reinforce the topics Burr was referencing. NASCAR Now's use of this "sound" was perhaps the best of the season and showed a wide variety of drivers, not only the top finishers.
Bestwick is not a big fan of loud music, so apparently the staff decided to take advantage of his absence. The "music bed" was screaming under the announcers almost every time any shred of video hit the air. The generic music was eventually tough to take.
Massaro once again was a integral part of the show with his comments on a wide variety of topics. Many times, it was Massaro that stepped-in to take the heat off Evernham and Said on tough topics like who was going to make The Chase. Still flying well under the TV radar, Massaro has been the quiet rock of NASCAR on ESPN for many years.
If there was a better-edited highlights feature than the Chicagoland mid-show piece, I have not seen it this season. Featuring the voices of the NASCAR radio announcers combined with team radios and "natural sound," there may be nothing more effective on TV. These are the type of features fans deserve to see again during the off-season.
Since February, Kyle Busch has enjoyed being on NASCAR Now quite often. He has spoken with all three hosts and genuinely seems to enjoy himself with the crew. Busch joined the program from Joe Gibbs Racing and Burr pinned him down right away about the final restart and finish.
Burr had some stumbles with Busch because of his lack of in-depth NASCAR experience, but kept the interview on track. His question asking Busch what he would have done if Johnson had gone high is a classic. "Go low," calmly said Busch.
Sometimes, NASCAR Now has to interview their guests when only the show host is available. That is the reason the three panelists sometimes do not get to ask questions. There is little doubt that this interview would have been a tad better if Massaro had been allowed to step-in and help. Busch was pleasant, but there were not a lot of smiles and very little joking around.
Kudos to NASCAR Now for presenting a full highlight package of the Nationwide Series race from Friday night. The program made sure to add-in the classic post-race comment from Clint Bowyer saying "a monkey could win" in the Gibbs car. Nice touch to make sure and include the JD Gibbs response to Bowyer in the show and then let the panel discuss it.
Many Daly Planet readers wondered if Allen Bestwick would ever take a day off, and who would step-in to fill the void. With Bestwick finally on vacation, the choice of Ryan Burr to host seems to have paid-off. His news experience in handling live interviews and being well-prepared was obvious.
In the show, Burr also announced that NASCAR Now would be moving to 5PM. We will have more info when it becomes available. For East Coast fans, the program is now quickly becoming a DVR or TiVo property. Currently, the series repeats at Midnight Eastern Time.
Bestwick returns next week and will handle the stretch-run to the finish. Please give us your opinion of Ryan Burr and this edition of NASCAR Now.
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