Thursday, August 14, 2008
A Line Of What On The Radio?
Every weekend SPEED manufactures a lot of TV programming from the SPEED Stage at the Sprint Cup races. One of these programs, squeezed-in between the "big shows," is called Tradin' Paint.
The series began with Michael Waltrip, host John Roberts and a rotating member of the media debating various NASCAR issues. Waltrip eventually moved-on and was replaced by Kyle Petty. Last season, Petty got his very own lesson in dealing with those NASCAR media members. Unfortunately, the lessons often played-out while the program aired.
This little thirty minute show is tough to catch for many fans and does not re-air after Sunday. The shifting race schedules between Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons mean this TV series is best viewed on the DVR or TiVo. Last weekend's show at Watkins Glen was an interesting one to record.
TV veteran Randy Pemberton has been a utility player for SPEED this season as well as hosting one "mini-network" for DirecTV's Hot Pass service. Some NASCAR fans may remember Pemberton working as a reporter alongside Bill Weber on Inside Winston Cup Racing back when Ned Jarrett was the host on TNN. Pemberton has been around the NASCAR block and was this week's media guest.
Roberts led the panel through polite discussions of issues like racing in the rain and who will make The Chase for the Championship. Then, the topic turned to shorter races. Petty was all for it and Pemberton was not. Keep in mind that Petty's other part-time job is as a race analyst for TNT's NASCAR package.
Pemberton forcefully made the point that if the TV guys showed more than just the top five or six cars fans might be more interested in the racing. That did not go over well with Petty. Comparing the current racing to watching paint dry, Petty offered the rebuttal that you can't make something from nothing.
Then, Pemberton pushed Petty's hot button when he said that perhaps if Petty listened to the MRN radio broadcasts he would be able to understand how to make racing exciting. "Those guys (drivers) are battling just as hard for 20th, which is where you are most of the time," said Pemberton.
The radio guys and the TV guys are like the Hatfields and McCoys. So, Petty wasn't having any of this nonsense. "You know why they are battling for 20th?" asked Petty. "Because you can't see them and those (MRN) guys are shooting you a line of crap on the radio!"
His point was that because the TV announcers have to actually show the race to home viewers they must call the real action on the track. Petty was suggesting that the racing action was being embellished during the radio broadcasts.
Pemberton's contention was simple. Should the TV networks expect to be entertained by the racing on the track all the time or should they be actively involved in telling the whole story of the race and work to make it exciting for the fans watching at home?
We have all seen the on-air TV styles change from the drama-building of Ken Squier and the excitement of Eli Gold to the laid-back style of Jerry Punch and the pragmatic style of Bill Weber. How many fans are watching the races on TV, but listening to the radio to get exactly that old-style excitement back again?
Unfortunately, this was the only opinionated moment in an otherwise uninspired program in what has become an uninspired series. TDP readers now call Tradin' Paint a "love-fest" and recent shows have been nothing more than two opinions given to a bored host.
Roberts appears on almost every SPEED Stage program and can be forgiven if viewers get the feeling he wants to get the show over and have some lunch. Pemberton might be a good substitute for Roberts because of his long history both in the sport and with Kyle Petty. Add a Jenna Fryer, David Poole or Lee Spencer to that mix and it may finally make for some interesting TV viewing.
One element absent from Tradin' Paint is the ESPN reporter presence. Marty Smith, David Newton or Mike Massaro will never be on this program due to network TV contracts and ESPN policies. That is a shame for the fans.
As Tradin' Paint makes its way to Homestead, the choice of the topics to discuss and the media guests to invite are going to be make-or-break decisions that will either grow this series or continue to let it languish in SPEED TV's minor leagues.
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