Saturday, August 23, 2008
Gutsy Ryan Burr Finally Asks The Question
The ESPN tap dance had been going-on so long it was getting annoying to all the parties concerned. Someone was going to have to step-in and end this pointless dance marathon. Leave it to an ESPNEWS anchor who lives outside the NASCAR bubble.
Saturday Morning's NASCAR Now hit the air at 10AM and it featured one of the most effective pairings of studio anchor and field reporter. Standing in Bristol, TN was Marty Smith. Perhaps, Smith is the face of ESPN's NASCAR efforts where news and feature reporting is concerned.
This season has seen Smith write a cover story for ESPN the Magazine, stand front-and-center on the big news stories of the season and handle the interviews that NASCAR fans want to see. A big part of Smith's on-air success is the new studio anchor team of Nicole Manske and Ryan Burr.
It was Burr handling the Saturday duties. Fans know Burr from his time on the ESPNEWS Network and his ability to talk to almost anyone. Sometimes, Burr can work to draw emotion and opinion from a guest who participates in the sports world. In this case, he asked the tough questions of ESPN's Lead Reporter and helped to clear-up the lingering bad feelings about earlier comments from some ESPN announcers.
"Right after this happened Marty, there's going to be speculation...that's the job of the people who were hired at ESPN," said Burr. What Burr was carefully doing was addressing the earlier statements by Tim Brewer that Tony Stewart was involved in this scheme.
On Friday night, Allen Bestwick and the ESPN Infield Pit Studio team had actually hosted JD Gibbs in the studio. Bestwick was polite and political, but could not bring himself to ask the question America wanted to hear. Apparently, it took someone who came from the TV news side of the business to get the issue out on the table. Finally, Burr got it done.
"We have now had a week to kind of let all this settle in," continued Burr. "What role, if any, did the drivers have in this?"
Marty Smith's expression never changed. He never blinked. His answer was straightforward. "None whatsoever at all," he said.
Smith reminded viewers that JGR accepted all the penalties with the exception of the points and probation given to both Tony Stewart and Joey Logano. After the JGR employees involved identified themselves, it was the contention of both Joe and JD Gibbs that between the lengthy NASCAR suspensions and the internal fines and suspensions that no action should be directed at the drivers.
This simple and effective question-and-answer session cleared the air as well as possible before ESPN stepped into the big spotlight of the Sprint Cup Series and put a live microphone in front of Tony Stewart. While Logano may be trained in the long line of NASCAR's corporate spokesman/drivers, Stewart had already mentioned Brewer's comments on his Sirius radio show and was a good bet to back that up on live TV.
Both the early and late editions of NASCAR Now have proven to be good companion pieces to the ESPN coverage of the Sprint Cup Series. Hosts Manske and Burr are straight-shooters who do not mince words and go directly to the heart of the matter on a topic. It has proven to be effective, with this JGR driver issue being a very good example.
We would welcome your comments as to whether or not ESPN has offered enough of an explanation to put this issue to bed and move on to the racing action. To add your TV-related comments, simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions.
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