Saturday, June 7, 2008

NASCAR TV Notes: Sunday

Here are some TV program notes for Sunday with all listings in Eastern Daylight Time. There will be a post up for comments about the Sprint Cup race at Noon.

9AM - Tradin' Paint on SPEED: Pete Schnatz of the Philadelphia Inquirer is the media guest who will join John Roberts and Kyle Petty for this show from Pocono.

9:30AM - ESPN Tribute to Jim McKay on Outside the Lines: Bob Ley will host a retrospective on McKay's amazing contribution to sports television. Certainly something for veteran fans to add to the video collection. You can also click on the picture above for the full-size downloadable version.

9:30AM - NASCAR Performance: Host Larry McReynolds is joined by Chad Knaus and Doug Richert to review the technical challenges of Pocono. Bootie Barker is on a six week suspension from NASCAR.

10AM - NASCAR Now on ESPN2: Nicole Manske will host as Ryan Burr is at Pocono reporting for the show. One hour edition that features live reports and will focus on previewing the Pocono Sprint Cup race.

10AM - NASCAR In A Hurry on SPEED: Adam Alexander hosts a thirty minute look back at the best NASCAR video of the last forty eight hours. Lots of clips played-back from racing action to funny moments. Fast-paced recap show.

10:30AM - RaceDay on SPEED: This show has now been moved earlier to not clash with the ninety minute pre-race programming on TNT. John Roberts hosts with Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart as featured guests. Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace are on the panel, with Hermie Sadler and Rutledge Wood contributing. Wendy Venturini will interview the Mattioli's about continued ownership of the Pocono track.

12:30PM - NASCAR Live on TNT and Allstate Countdown to Green: Two pre-race shows from the track hosted by the TNT crew. The pit reporters will contribute as well as TNT airing some pre-produced features. Ninety minutes in total.

2PM - Sprint Cup Series on TNT from Pocono: Marc Fein handles the infield action with Larry McReynolds. Bill Weber, Kyle Petty and Wally Dallenbach call the action from the booth. Lindsay Czarniak, Matt Yocum, Ralph Shaheen and Marty Snider patrol pit road.

8PM - Victory Lane on SPEED: Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace join John Roberts from Victory Lane to interview the winning driver, crew chief and owner. Spontaneous show with usually some interesting information. Lots of good emotion.

This post will host your TV-related comments about these programs. Add your opinion by clicking on the COMMENTS button below. The rules for posting are listed on the right side of the main page. Thanks again for stopping by The Daly Planet.

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.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are on the right side of the main page. Thanks again for taking the time to stop by.

In-Progress From Nashville: Nationwide Series Race on ESPN2

Rusty Wallace is center stage once again as the Nationwide Series takes to the Nashville Superspeedway on Saturday night.

Wallace will begin the night down in the Infield Pit Studio seated alongside host Allen Bestwick at 7PM. Brad Daugherty will join that duo for NASCAR Countdown, ESPN's thirty minute pre-race show.

This is a stand-alone Nationwide Series race, but several of the Sprint Cup drivers have made the trip from Pocono and will be looking to upstage the Nationwide "regulars" once again.

Needless to say, Kyle Busch is currently one of the highest-profile Cup guys who will be racing at Nashville. Several others include Carl Edwards and David Reutimann.

Once the pre-race show is over, Wallace will move-up to the broadcast booth and provide the race analysis with Andy Petree. Calling the action as usual will be Dr. Jerry Punch. Dale Jarrett will not return to the ESPN broadcasts until the series heads for New Hamsphire. This was pre-planned by Jarrett and ESPN. Once he returns, Jarrett will remain as the Lead Analyst for all of the races through the end of the season.

Supporting Punch and company will be Tim Brewer in the ESPN Tech Center. That unit is on-scene in Nashville. Down on pit road will be Shannon Spake, Jamie Little, Dave Burns and Mike Massaro. In this race, Nationwide Series regular Mike Bliss will be the in-race reporter talking to Wallace during the event.

Rusty Wallace has been making the most of this final stretch of being in the broadcast booth. He has been enthusiastic and informative in his commentary. This season, Wallace is often eager to ask Petree for his opinion, and sometimes speaks directly to the pit road reporters in asking about on-going stories.

Punch is still deciding if he will continue to be a reporter who watches the action in silence and then reports, or if he will become a true play-by-play announcer and involve the viewers with his active commentary on events as they unfold.

Tim Brewer seems to have finally found his on-air groove recently. This may have come as a result of being allowed to contribute more frequently to the daily NASCAR Now show on ESPN2. Brewer has figured out where to look, how to move the camera to the area he wants to highlight and most importantly how to talk to the viewers.

With the build-up of frustration by Kyle Busch following a second place finish in the Friday night Truck Series race and a crash in Cup practice, Busch is going to be the story of the night. Since high-profile rookie Joey Logano is on the pole and going very fast, the clash of these two seems to be very possible.

There are a lot of good stories in this field, and it should be interesting to watch ESPN try to continue multiple storylines throughout the race. Bestwick is often inserted during the event to do recaps and field updates. The balance between Punch in the booth and Bestwick in the infield is going to be the key to the telecast.

This post will serve to host your TV-related comments about the Nationwide Series telecast from Nashville on ESPN2. To add your opinion, just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. Thank you again for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Sports TV Legend Jim McKay Passes Away

I grew up watching Jim McKay tell me about the Wide World of Sports. He is the sole reason I began to focus on a career in sports television. Today, McKay passed away at his home in Maryland. He was 86 years old.

Veteran NASCAR fans may remember the sport creeping onto TV with McKay exposing the southern boys on Saturday afternoon's Wide World of Sports. A wide variety of ABC announcers from Keith Jackson to the late Chris Schenkel were involved in the coverage.

McKay was a stoic presence in the studio and in the field. His on-air calm was never put to the test more than during the Munich Olympics of 1972. Arab terrorists were involved in a bizarre hostage situation that ultimately ended in the death of both the terrorists and the athletes. As the on-site studio presence, McKay handled this news assignment with his characteristic grace and professionalism.

McKay's given last name was McManus, and his son Sean is currently the Executive in Charge of both the CBS News and Sports divisions. McKay was quiet away from the TV world and married for 59 years. Here are some good links to stories about McKay:

Pioneer Sports Broadcaster Dies at 86 from NY Times (Frank Litsky/Richard Sandomir)
Legendary Sports Broadcaster Dies from the Associated Press (Various reporters)
Video Link of McKay Racing Highlights from Orlando Sentinel
Video Link of McKay's Archive of American Television Interview (From YouTube)

Please feel free to post your comments about McKay and your memories of his work on TV. Non-NASCAR posts will be accepted for this special post. Just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. Thank you.