Sunday, January 11, 2009
"SPEED Report" Shows-Off New TV Studios
Bob Varsha and Leigh Diffey welcomed racing fans to the first edition of The SPEED Report for 2009 on Sunday night. Both men were live from the new SPEED studios after a major move by the network over the past several weeks.
This studio marks the first time that the network has actually had its own facility. Originally working in the Stamford, CT studios of Group W in the SpeedVision days, the network moved to Charlotte, NC and took over the Inspirational Network studios on Southern Pine Boulevard.
Now, the entire company has relocated to the Harris Blvd. area of north Charlotte and is still settling into the new facility. From the freshly painted floor to the immaculate lighting, the new SPEED studios are beautiful on TV.
The thrust of this move was to create an all-HD facility that would allow SPEED to finish the transition to having all programming available in HD. This has been a very tough task during the off-season, but now that the racing is about to begin the network will finally have a strong HD foundation of new programming.
Fox's Jeff Hammond was the NASCAR expert who appeared in studio to talk about the sport. He recapped the Petty Enterprises and GEM merger with the suggestion that Richard Petty will somehow be involved in the day-to-day operations of the new company.
Good soundbites from Greg Zipadelli, Kyle Petty and others served to get the SPEED gang back in the flow of the new season. Hammond spoke to the reality of the Sprint Cup Series rookies who must confront speedweek in Daytona with no January testing.
The show offered a good preview of the Rolex 24 that included the names of the various NASCAR drivers who will be participating. While some NASCAR stars will be in Daytona, others will be in Oklahoma racing on a very small track in a very big barn.
The 2009 Chili Bowl will be carried by SPEED on a tape-delayed basis. TDP will keep you posted when the scheduling information is released. So far, nothing on the SPEEDtv.com TV listings.
An update on the Sound and Speed Festival (click here) that was recently held in Nashville, TN for charity was a nice touch. It was good to see and hear from a wide variety of NASCAR's top stars, even if "old DW" did try-out a pre-season "Boogity, Boogity, Boogity."
Hammond's second segment in the studio showed just how professional he has become on TV and why he continues to be a key player on the Fox and SPEED team. While addressing the 2009 season was a tough chore, Hammond handled a wide variety of topics with his normally good sense of humor.
TDP has it on good authority that Hammond's choice of sport coat is in the process of being banned for life by network executives. HDTV sets across America will be very thankful.
Veteran SPEED viewers do not have to think very hard to remember old days of "Ken and Barbie" that made The SPEED Report almost unwatchable. In 2008, SPEED committed to change and the results have been very worthwhile.
After a solid first year, the switch to the new HD studios and the continued use of SPEED announcers as co-hosts should bring another interesting season of this TV series. This first episode was a very good start.
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