Sunday, April 26, 2009

Friday And Saturday TV Wrap

Kenny Schrader set the tone for a solid presentation of the ARCA/REMAX Series race from Talladega on Friday. It was nice to see Schrader back on SPEED and like many fans I certainly hope SPEED considers adding him to the Monday TWIN show.

The veteran perspective of someone who is not active in the Sprint Cup Series would be a very good fit to balance out the current cast of Michael Waltrip, Chad Knaus and Greg Biffle. Schrader has the knowledge without the on-going agenda of the other panelists to hype their own teams.

The ARCA race ended a long Friday of sometimes tedious and sometimes exciting coverage from Talladega on SPEED. The single car runs of qualifying vs. the door-banging laps of practice made for two very different styles of TV coverage.

The NASCAR on ESPN team returned for the Saturday afternoon Nationwide Series race on ABC and immediately set the agenda by again focusing on Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch as if the calendar said October and not April. This is the time of the season to talk to everyone and feature as many teams as possible on TV, not the time to pretend that a championship is at stake in the race.

The action on the track proved to be the saving grace for ABC. Michael Waltrip was spun by Joey Logano at high speed in what many know as a Talladega-style racing accident. ESPN pit reporter Jamie Little interviewed Waltrip outside the Infield Care Center. Normally, this would be a positive sign that the telecast was improving by following-up on drivers out of the race.

Instead, Little repeated to Waltrip a radio transmission overheard from Clint Bowyer. It was taken completely out of context, just like the incident last season created by ESPN. Bowyer remarked that it was Waltrip in an accident yet again. Little confronted Waltrip who had not yet even seen a replay of the incident.

"What's your defense?" Little said to a puzzled looking Waltrip. This bizarre sequence of events was a reminder that ESPN can and will create controversy when it fits the network's agenda. This is not the question you ask a man who has just crashed at almost 200 mph. Little was off-base and so was the producer who made her ask the question.

Even as the racing continued to be red hot, the ESPN coverage showed the remaining problems in the broadcast team. Remember, this is the group that will take over the Sprint Cup coverage in July and bring the series all the way to Homestead.

Amid the great triple-split video on the pit stops, the wonderful graphics and the fantastic HD pictures there was the continuing problem of Dr. Jerry Punch trying to deal with accidents and spontaneous incidents on the track.

Punch is a reporter and his nature is to observe and then discuss. Mat Kenseth received a shove from his Roush teammate David Ragan and started a lazy spin down the backstretch. Instead of blowing some tires and coming to a halt, Kenseth's car turned over and began to roll violently.

"Over on his roof," said Punch. That was all he said from the time the incident began until the time the car came to a halt. "A wild ride for the Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth," stated Punch once the car stopped. As a reporter, Punch's first thought is to identify everything.

Adding insult to injury, the ESPN Director unbelievably cut to a shot of a pregnant Katie Kenseth crying as she walked off pit road arm-in-arm with Ryan Newman's wife, Krissie. This was before viewers or the TV team knew that Matt was not injured. Why and how this happened is something the ESPN TV team needs to discuss. Whether or not ESPN offers an apology to Katie Kenseth, this was the ultimate in tasteless TV.

As the race came down to a green/white/checkered finish, the duo of Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree had once again saved the day for TV viewers. These two step right in and supply fans with the information that Punch just cannot seem to get out of his mouth in a timely fashion. There was no better example than the final lap of the race.

"Here they go three-wide," said Punch as the TV cameras showed only two lines of well-formed cars. As the pack approached the finish line, there was a mad scramble at the front.

"Junior up high, David Ragan is there," stated Punch. "And here comes...David Ragan."

That was the entire call of the ABC play-by-play announcer at the end of a live Talladega race as it was won by inches.

How much longer can this go on? Punch used to be one of the most respected reporters in the sport, but his return to NASCAR after a long hiatus has not been kind. Instead of handling interviews in the Infield Pit Center and leading discussions among his colleagues, he is expected to perform in a position he cannot handle.

NASCAR fans can hear the excited voices of Mike Joy, Rick Allen and Dave Moody almost every racing weekend. The memories of Bob Jenkins, Eli Gold and Allen Bestwick are still fresh in the minds of many. A good play-by-play announcer leaves a legacy of words that can still produce chills years later.

Speaking of Allen, it was a short appearance by Allen and his telecast partner Phil Parsons as they had the Camping World Truck Series race interrupted and then delayed by rain. The action on the track was good and the coverage solid, but unfortunately the entire team will have to wait until Monday morning to finish the event.

The Friday and Saturday race coverage was interesting and showed the various approaches to producing NASCAR on TV. Did you watch the races? Please share with us your opinion of the coverage from the NASCAR TV partners.

TDP welcomes comments from readers. Just click the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

Thanks for taking some time from your day to stop by The Daly Planet.


Wisconsin Steve said...

ESPN's shot of Mrs. Kenseth was unacceptable, but it HAS unfortunately been done before. A few years ago in the July Daytona race, FOX (yes, FOX) showed a live shot of Martha Nemechek reacting in horror as her son Joe hit the wall head on (this was only a year or two after Earnhardt's death, and the crashes looked a lot alike). Joe was fine, but the network had no way of knowing it at the time.

FOX was also the network that showed an in-car shot of a barely-conscious David Reutimann after his crash at California a couple of years ago.

Just pointing out that ESPN is not the only network that has made such an insensitive, cold, idiotic decision. It seems to be an industry-wide problem.

What a shame.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Thanks Steve,

TDP was around for the Reutimann replay and we let Fox have it for using it while David was still not communicating from the car and later ESPN for re-running it countless times on countless shows over the next 48 hours.


majorshouse said...

I personally thought that what I saw from the ABC/ESPN coverage today was the usual predictable ESPN coverage that would put one to sleep. Never mind that at times the racing is boring, even thought the Nationwide cars are more exciting to watch than the cup cars are.
I just wish that we could get someone better than a pit reporter in the booth as the play by play announcer. I still think that Allen Bestwick is the man for the job and put Jerry Punch where Bestwick is currently serving.

Anonymous said...

I agree the shot of Mrs. Kenseth was unacceptable, and now it will live on online. Not only is it on youtube, but has provided the entire clip. While I can understand wanting to show the clip as it aired live, this is a case where picking up the clip after the offending shot or editing it out (or blacking it out), would have been the correct move. I believe that it is NEVER appropriate to show a family member of a driver until THEY know that their loved one is ok or showing a driver or car until people know that the driver ok.

Between the lapse of judgment and the guerilla interviewing techniques, I give today's NW broadcast a big FAIL.

kang said...

The producers and directors must work on soap operas and reality shows during the week.ESPN borrows them from ABC for the weekends.

Ken-Michigan said...

The Waltrip / Boyer incident was initiated by whoever in the truck ran the Boyer scanner audio.

Sure, Boyer blamed Waltrip on the scanner, but Boyer had no idea that Logano bumped Waltrip to start the whole thing. Therefore, the truck and the audio person acted wayyy too fast in airing the Boyer audio.

Boyer's audio NEVER should have been aired to begin with.

The J said...

the doc gently put me into a state of sleepiness throughout the race. if anyone is having trouble sleeping, just listen to him do pxp. too bad the truck race was rained on, i always enjoy the elevated excitment of allenparsons. and to add to that bad camera decisions list, didnt fox show a roof cam shot of earnhardts wreck before they knew he was ok? not as bad as showing a family member but still not good

4ever3 said...

"Adding insult to injury, the ESPN Director unbelievably cut to a shot of a pregnant Katie Kenseth crying as she walked off pit road arm-in-arm with Ryan Newman's wife, Krissie. This was before viewers or the TV team knew that Matt was not injured. Why and how this happened is something the ESPN TV team needs to discuss. Whether or not ESPN offers an apology to Katie Kenseth, this was the ultimate in tasteless TV."
- Pardon me but I was right peed off when they did that! Idiots! There is no need for that kind of crap

David Hill said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jimbacca said...

From what I saw of the race it was well .. pretty much expected. The bar is so low just having cameras where MRN reporters are would be a step up.
Kenseth crash. From the horrible ones Rusty and Ernie had in the 90's that one looked pretty tame. Matt was in good enough shape to reach back into the burning car to get the sponsor hat. Showing his wife did ZERO for the ongoing issue and had ZERO reason to be presented. That was like an idiot paparazzi chasing the idiot 'celeb's' out here.
Matt blaming David was wrong. He went to block someone, lost speed and slipped back in front of a faster row of cars. So he should have thought out the block a little better.
I believe the coverage has gotten to the point where radio traffic should be secure and not accessible to TV. They try to generate stories for no reason. "Out of Context" wouldn't happen if they would follow the race and not a soap opera. Mikey, why do people play him off a woo is me poor guy. He has done the exact thing many times. Popping off is pretty much his thing.

Ken is the man. They should have him in the booth and on anything else nascar puts out. No confusion on where he stands. No sponsor or manufacturer whoring like others. Just his view, for being light hearted usually correct, and covering what is there.

Just a random thought on what coverage should do.
If you are deaf the visual should be good enough to help you follow the race?
If you are blind the sound should be good enough to help you follow the race?

Right now. Are either of the two above statements true right now on TV?

Photojosh said...

Schrader is amazing and should absolutely be on TV more, especially back on TWIN/INC/whatever.

The Natiowide race coverage was a turd by almost any measure. I fully echo all of JD's statements. I can't believe how long ESPN lets some of these issues go on without seeming to care.

Really makes you appreciate the truck broadcasts. Now, if only the trucks could get some support programming so that more fans would get to know the drivers and storylines, we might really have something there.

Anonymous said...

Oy vey! What a horrible call at the finish. I am not as familiar with the NW cars by number/color as I obviously am with the Cup cars, and in the scramble I couldn't totally tell who was pushing who to the finish. Luckily, I had Jerry Punch in the booth to not tell me anything and make an exciting finish seem ho-hum.

Also, you hit on so many valid points about the miscoverage of the Kenseth crash. But I just couldn't believe that after that incredible violent, potentially career threatening barrel roll, all Punch could say was to identify the driver by name and then name his most recent win.

Five words for Jerry Punch: Not up to the job.

stricklinfan82 said...
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stricklinfan82 said...

The 'normal' TV topics that are often discussed on this blog - camera angles, practice blackouts and tape-delays, on-air talent choices, cartoon characters being integrated into the race coverage, etc. - pale in comparison to what we saw on Saturday.

The actions of the ESPN production truck that worked Saturday's Nationwide race at Talladega were completely reprehensible, in my opinion, and crossed a line that should never be crossed.

Maliciously choosing to take Clint Bowyer's radio chatter completely out of context and broadcast it over the air for the purposes of "stirring the pot" and damaging the character of Michael Waltrip (for the SECOND time in the last few years) was completely wrong.

Choosing to immediately switch to a camera shot of a pregnant Katie Kenseth panicking and crying on pit road just seconds after her husband Matt (condition unknown) came to rest after a horrifying flip was nothing short of sick and completely disgusting.

I really hope what we saw on Saturday served as a wake-up call for everyone involved in ABC/ESPN's NASCAR coverage. I realize that whoever the 'offenders' were in those incidents are humans and make mistakes just like the rest of us. All you can hope for at this point is that the network and the individual(s) involved are sorry for what happened and will do their best to use this as a learning experience to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.

red said...

i started this season thinking that the coverage had to be better than i remembered from last year, that the incidents and actions of the networks that so angered me last year would, somehow, someway, not happen again this year.

i was wrong. boy, was i wrong.

i have seen fox's broadcast deteriorate beyond recognition and now yesterday's espn game of "let's see how many horrible choices we can make in one broadcast." i gave my opinion of the shot of katie kenseth on yesterday's blog and will only reiterate "appalling." the bowyer/waltrip mess was inexcusable. when the truck has audio available to them, it would seem to me to be the professional action to review the actual film, determine if it matches the audio and then ask the drivers involved.

and my saddest moment yesterday? watching my truck series pre-race go all fox on me. i think i get the idea -- a hollywood squares w/the truck racers, asking if they know what "nascar" stands for -- but it was so atypical of what that team has done and just so silly and fox-like in it's execution. and it made the racers look stupid b/c they didn't know the answer.

so now another sunday choice looms: a beautiful day here and a race on fox. hmmm. well, it looks as if it's the radio for me again today.

sure hope the folks at fox, espn and speed are paying attention. i'm yet one more fan who is thinking about not even turning on the tv, even for 'dega, b/c of the unprofessional jnb being foisted on me by the networks.

(and jd? how 'bout them phillies, huh? can i just say: i've seen plenty of empty seats at nascar tracks recently but the lack of attendance at that ballpark is just astounding. and "bring your dog to the game" night?!? really? really?!? somehow, i just don't think that would work here . . .)

Matt said...

I still don't get what was "out of context" regarding Boyer's comments. It's not ESPN or Michael Waltrip's fault that Boyer shot his mouth off before knowing what really happened. Boyer and Waltrip seem to have some ongoing issues, which makes it even harder to see how the comment was out of context.

I can see a point being made that team communications should be encrypted so that nobody but the team can hear them, but nobody is making that argument. As long as the comms are open, there's nothing wrong with asking a driver about something another driver said about him.

As for the other issue, I swear I'm not being contrarian just for the fun of it, but (standby for dreaded stick and ball analogy...) if wives and family members want to hang around the pits, show up in victory lane, and otherwise pretend to be part of the show then guess what? They're part of the show. You don't see guys getting met at homeplate by their wives and girlfriends after hitting a walk off homerun to win a game, and you don't see Archie Manning running down to the field to check on Peyton or what's his name after a hard sack.

There was one case where drivers showed some actual emotion and aggravation with each other, which we almost never see, and another which underlined the danger and possible consequences of mistakes in the sport, and the broadcaster is getting pilloried for both.

red said...

matt, here's my problem w/the audio decision. just b/c the truck had the audio available doesn't mean it should have been used before someone reviewed the film of the accident and made a determination that the audio matched what happened. otherwise, what we have is a driver spouting off without knowing the whole story -- a fairly typical situation. the issue arose when espn used that audio to frame the post-medical center interview without having determined that it was relevant -- or even accurate. and that's not letting drivers show emotion, that's poor broadcasting.

as for the kenseth moment: here's the difference for me. in those other sports, a player isn't in danger of losing his life or being permanently injured. racing presents those risks every week and so a code of ethics has developed over the years and it includes not showing the car before the net goes down and never, ever focusing on the spouses or loved ones before we know the driver is ok. yes, as others have pointed out, it's been breached before and that was just as wrong as yesterday.

bevo said...

Stricklinfan & red sum it up perfectly. If anything I'm impressed by your restraint regarding the Kenseth situation JD. I would have used much more colorful language about the ABC/ESPN crew and their vulture-like behavior.

It's real simple. Bowyer was UNAWARE of what caused Waltrip to wreck him - he vented like any driver would in that situation. The ONLY reason Jamie Little asked him about it was because of the history the two of them have with each other. It wasn't a case of live audio when Bowyer said it, it was taped and aired for the sole purpose of causing controversy.

As for the second point - a bit of a difference between rolling a car at 190 mph and getting sacked.

Anyone who doesn't understand why it is in poor taste and offensive to put a camera on a pregnant woman as she watches her husband in that car is beyond reasoning with.

Newracefan said...

JD I'm suprised you didn't flame ESPN more with the Katie incident. You didn't so I will. It was probably the most offensive thing I have ever seen on a Nascar broadcast and I really hope the drivers and their families make sure that ESPN knows it. I never liked seeing family during a race even for the good things, perhaps an occasional shot but not some of the ongoing coverage we have been getting but this was just low. They had to go out of their way for the shot she wasn't on the box anymore so it's not like it was an oops. Someone should be sent home for that one.

As far as Clint shooting off his mouth while I prefer that it was not used at all, they did so play it once have DJ explain that he can't see what really happen and move on. Nooooo let's have Jamie confront Michael with it thats where the wheels totally came off, the true test is if they use it again like last time. Besides we all know that if it had been any other drivers it would not have went down that way and that's my real problem they are suppose to be professionals not paparazzi.

Ken Schrader was so much fun, really enjoyed the Arca race and I hardly know the drivers or cars. He brings a whole new meaning to the word buddies :) I hope this means we'll get to see much more of him.

Newracefan said...

I just finished watching the last few laps of the Arca race. It was all Rick Allen, all excited, calling the finish of a much less visually compelling last lap then the NW finish but with the way Rick called it I was much more emotionally invested and excited. Phil and Schrader didn't need to say a word unlike DJ and Andy who had to jump in for the 3 wide at the line, sad.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else see the funniest piece of the weekend on the truck series pre-race show? they asked the drivers what nascar stood for and played it out like a 70's game show. rick allen played the part of cheesy game show guy. I"m telling you it was the funniest thing I've seen in awhile. I hope its on youtube for those of you who missed it.

Matt said...

I think I get it. The broadcasters aren't supposed to to stick to the script, but need to bring us the emotion, excitement, and drama of the race, except when they aren't...

The whole point of the Clint Boyer thing WAS that he was talking first, finding out what happened later, why doesn't anyone get that? I'm sure plenty of people heard it, and would comment on it later. Why is the broadcaster that paid the money to broadcast the race supposed to ignore it and let others get first crack at it?

On the crash, my point wasn't sack versus crash, it was people-be it wives, families, sponsors or whoever, hanging around the pits and other areas where they really don't have any business during a race. You want to hang around and be part of the show? OK, you're part of the show. Don't want to be part of the show? Get up in a suite, box, or whateverf and watch the race there.

Anonymous said...

no matt, you absolutely don't get it.

Jayhawk said...

Add the incessant cuts to an in-car shot of somebody's hood emblem. Just as we see the beginning of a pass for the lead they cut to a shot of someone's hood emblem and we hear Jerry Punch not describing what we had been looking at before we got the fascinating view of this hood emblem from a few inches away. Again.

Then there was the postrace interview where, after listening to Bobby Gerhart express just how angry and depressed he was, Little makes some comment about "I'm glad you have such a positive attitude." After more of his discussion of his race-ending werck she makes some rote remark anout a "good run to the finish." I was surprised he didn't punch her out.

Jayhawk said...

And I forgot to add, didn't you love the way they offered Junior an excuse for missing his pit? Some lame thing about being in the Nationwide car and thinking he was in the Sprint car. He said he thought that was a fine excuse and that if they wanted to use it go ahead, but that basically he just messed up.

Not that I undersstand how he does that, but...

Zieke said...

Well, looks like ESPN did'nt learn anything about racecasting since last yr. There is no thought going into production, except get as much dirt and crap as possible on the air.
Showing Katie was just a very stupid act. Too bad they can't be fined for stupidity. Of course they know Clint's feelings of good 'ol Mikey, but I agree w/ Clint so we'll pass on that one.
Maybe Ken is just a natural, but he shows alot of "veterans" up by a bunch everytime he does a race. Same with Jarrett and Petrie. This is just about doing a little preparation and thought. Are some announcers above that or do they really think they're good? Also Jamie does need some work, but she is'nt getting any of the right help from the folks who should know better. Cut her some slack.
The MRN guys are as good as radio hockey announcers. They know their business, and don't have time for ignorance.

Daly Planet Editor said...

There is a new post up for your comments on the Sunday NASCAR TV coverage.


Unknown said...

GOT TO HAVE THE DRAMA!!!! Lets cut to the pregnant wife that just maybe watched her husband die!!! WHOO HOO!!! Is about what they were shouting in the TV truck I bet.

Absolute scum of the earth. They owe Mrs. K a big apology.

Anonymous said...

I don't think they should have shot Kenseth's wife, either - but the one commentator does make an excellent point: if she wants to be on the pit box, she is part of the show - and there is a lot that comes with that. She can by anonymous up in the suites or back in the coach.

Anonymous said...

I remember reading an interview with Katie Kenseth a long time ago. Her husband asked her to be on the pit box; she did not want to be on there. He asked to her to be up there and keep lap times for him during each race. Even after she was no longer needed to keep lap times, Matt wanted her on the box. She said she just keeps quiet and tries to stay out of everyone's way.

So while I understand the point that wives and girlfriends make themselves part of the show in some way so all reactions are up for some cases it was not their idea. So I think the shot of Katie yesterday was tasteless.

Anonymous said...

West Coast Diane said:

I'm sorry, but the idea that if family sit on the pit box or appear in VL they are fair game is pretty weak. How about just using common courtesy and having a sense of decency when there is a potentially tragic incident. Where is it written anything HAS to be shown, just because they show celebrations or frustrations.

Regarding the issue about the Waltrip incident. I don't have a problem playing Clint's reaction. My problem is they knew Logano triggered the incident before they interviewed Waltrip without letting Waltrip see the replay. Definitely a set up, if there ever was one.

As a major JR fan, I was screaming at the TV and specifically DJ for trying to make excuses for the missed pit stop. Ridiculous! I love JR (and DJ), but it was a bonehead move by driver and crew. Call it what it was. Have to say JR's response was priceless. At least he knows what it was.

It continues to be painful to listen to the ESPN booth. I think JP upsets the flow which affects AP and DJ. It really is ruining my enjoyment of the races.

FOX has it's problems. However Mike Joy as pxp does such a great job that you can overlook some of the stuff that goes on. And DW and LM for the most part offer excellent insight and commentary that I'm more forgiving of the hype.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe nobody has mentioned Jamie Little's comment about "the very pregnant Katie Kenseth." What is that???? Fox's ratings are way down and ESPN is usually worse than Fox. Will anyone be left at the end of the season?????

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the comments made about the NW broadcast - the ESPN crew makes it almost hard to watch. Quite frankly, cannot they not find another assignment for the clueless Jamie Little? Not only does she start off asking Mikey about the incident where he got together with the 29 (no mention of the 20 who caused the wreck), but she forgets to identify the black car Mikey points out after seeing the video, preferring instead to go to the juicier Bowyer comment. As for showing Mrs. Kenseth - totally uncalled for. I could go on, but it's all been said. Thanks for this blog - it makes us realize we're not the only ones out there seeing the broadcasts they way we do!

Morgan Wick said...

Didn't I hear ESPN using former IndyCar guy Marty Reid on a race earlier this year? I had thought they had made him the full-time NASCAR play-by-play guy with IndyCar now on Versus. If they haven't, sounds like they should.

Anonymous said...

How dare some of you people say that Katie is a part of the show. She's on the pit box to support her husband, the father of her unborn baby, and some of you say that. She's not there like a load of the other girls who wants to be a part of the spotlight, she does not. She as real as real can get, and she's not some pretty faced young girl who smooches with one driver and goes on to another one. With those tears coming down her face proves why she is there and how much she really loves her husband. I'm a Kenseth fan and just seeing that accident and seeing Katie's reaction breaks my heart. ESPN's broadcast is usually alright, but what they did was just plain wrong, and just tasteless, but they would do just about anything for the ratings I guess, which is a shame!