Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday Night TV Mayhem


Krista Voda wore a hat, Marty Smith was stuck in the airport and somebody told Michael Waltrip to be quiet. Monday's NASCAR TV was certainly interesting.

This is the new Monday TV line-up that features NASCAR Now on ESPN and then Race Hub and This Week in NASCAR on SPEED. Fans get five more weeks of this TV tripleheader.

Allen Bestwick and the suit and tie set started the day from the ESPN2 studios. NASCAR Now is the most polished of the three shows and Bestwick played a big role in establishing this Monday power hour. Ray Evernham and Ricky Craven were alongside Bestwick as usual, but this week Marty Smith rounded out the panel.

Smith looked a little glazed after a nightmare air travel day. Bestwick did his best to avoid yet another Hendrick Motorsports lovefest, but to no avail. The #48 dynasty was front and center, including a telephone interview segment with Chad Knaus.

Craven and Evernham are a dynamic team in this environment. Once again they were finishing each other's sentences and sharing opinions. Smith held his own despite the circumstances as Bestwick led the panel through the highlights.

Ultimately, Smith offered to confirm that the Chase is basically over. Craven and Bestwick are still pushing the scenario that anything can happen in racing. In an ironic twist, it was Evernham that tried to work both sides of the street.

SPEED's mystery show is called Race Hub and runs Monday through Thursday. Now entering its second week, the Monday program had little original content and no featured drivers in the studio. Instead, Larry McReynolds and some recorded interviews tried to fill the thirty minutes. It did not work.

Krista Voda and Adam Alexander co-hosted. These two are great on TV with some structure, but this program gave them very little to work with. Monday is a key day because This Week in NASCAR is next on SPEED and is going to offer one hour of race highlights and commentary.

Race Hub was designed to get drivers, owners and other NASCAR personalities in the studio for casual conversation. On this day, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was featured. Unfortunately, his contribution consisted of recorded questions from the weekend with Alexander. His Hall of Fame responses were now days-old information.

If SPEED is going to have on-air talent and guests walking around the studio, it's important to have the place well lit. The network continues to struggle with this element, which was made worse when Voda wore a hat for the program. While this may be her trademark outside, it certainly did not work in a studio environment.

TWIN has been changing ever since Jimmy Spencer was added to the program to shake things up a bit. Spencer was his outspoken self once again, which has positive and negative ramifications for the show. Spencer challenged panelist Chad Knaus on several issues and also made his opinions known to Michael Waltrip.

In return, Waltrip tried to force himself into the program and finally heard the words "be quiet" from host Steve Byrnes. These are words that perhaps Byrnes should have said to Waltrip long before October.

The same race highlights seen on NASCAR Now and Race Hub flew by again, this time with a different set of faces making the comments. Knaus is a patient man and he often seems personally amused on this program simply by watching Waltrip and Spencer.

When asked about his ringing cell phone, Knaus told the panel he had other interviews to do after the show. That would be NASCAR Now calling. Knaus brings a fun spark to this show and offers top flight information on tracks, cars and the latest technology.

What exactly Spencer and Waltrip bring to the show these days is debatable. Waltrip offered several pro-NASCAR rants. Spencer struggled once again to even put a group of sentences together. He likes making statements. A lot of statements. Spencer should learn this is not RaceDay.

Byrnes is a veteran and navigated his way through the program with ease. What this show is becoming in these last few weeks of the season is unpredictable. That may be exactly what SPEED wanted when the network inserted Spencer into the line-up.

A little more respect for the person speaking and a little more control over the panelists by Byrnes would go a long way toward letting TV viewers really see what this group has to offer. A lot of content was lost with multiple panelists speaking at the same time this week.

All in all, an interesting Monday of NASCAR TV. If you watched, how about taking a moment to give us your opinion of these programs. Just click the comments button below to add your views. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

O.K..here are my observations:
NN:Liked the show,but can't stand the ties.Joe Gibb's was on a while back and he didn't have to wear one.
HUB: haven't watched it yet,as I'm not interested in the the content untill tomorrow.
TWIN:3 people make it more interesting.To me it's more entertaing than the cut and dry other shows even if you dislike the the panelists.I don't watch everything related to NASCAR but but no other show that I did watch mentioned the hurt crewman.Guess that the team he was on was not in the chase and not worth mentioning.He deserves better than NO coverage.Get well soon.
Dave in California...

Dot said...

I watched both shows. The Roundtable must have at least Ray & Ricky on ALL the time. I can live with Marty replacing Randy. Just no Boris.

Since the Roundtable show is always on in the correct time slot, it's the only NN I watch. I can record with confidence and not get punked.

I noticed on TWIN that Steve interrupted Mikey during his story. A little taste of his own medicine.

I enjoyed both shows.

Anonymous said...

Its readily apparent that SPEED has fallen into the same ego-driven production mantra that exists at the mother-ship of FOX Sports. Namely, that gimmicks and gadgets are their crutch because they are unable to actually produce compelling content. I can see that production meeting...."hey giys! I've got it! Let's have everyone who is on the show just walk around the set like they're not really involved in the on-camera action!! Yeah! oh.....and we'll have them pretend to be on their cellphones or pda!!!!
what a great idea!! we're geniuses!! hey........what's the show gonna be about tonight?.......aw, who cares!!! we'll just have people walk around the set!!!
Hey SPEED. Race Hub stinks.

Anonymous said...

Fellow Orbiters (and NASCAR and ESPN, assuming they are lucid)

Major League baseball rating=5.2

NASCAR rating =3.0

To quote your title sponsor...."Can you hear (us) now???"

nemisis said...

I've gotten to the point where I won't watch anything with a Waltrip on it. Mikey is a clown, a self promoting huckster, A NASCAR shill, and that's on a good day. Both have to have center stage and it's all I me, I me. Mikey is flat out rude and pretty much offers little substance.

Sadly the addition of Spencer did little to raise the show. Byrnes needs a better panel. Knaus teamed with Schrader, Benson, Biffle, or several others not into self promotion, would be a much better show. Too many other people are available to do this show to keep the clown factor. Enough with Mikey and Spencer.

matriarch said...

It was very amusing that with most of the media begging us to like JJ, Chad would come on with his appeal for the fans, "don't dislike us because we're successful" bit.

It was also terrific for Steve to tell Michael to be quiet. I've been wanting to tell him that for years and years.

Anonymous said...

Watched TWIN. I found I was waiting to hear more from Chad since he is often interesting and insightful but, too often, he was cut off by Mikey. Mikey rambles and doesn't add much content. Spencer seemed to be more of an "add on". Please, more Chad with panelists who can discuss things in some depth. Otherwise, this show becomes just another headline repeater.

50 yr. fan said...

Time for Fox/Speed to "send out the
clowns" and get some intelligence
on TWIN. How about Ray D,Wendy, or
Schrader?

Donna in FL said...

I DVR and watched all 3 shows this morning... unfortunately a lot of the highlights are the same so FF over segments. I was dreading the 48 love fest on all 3 shows.
NN: As mentioned before Ray & Ricky with AB is great on this show. The best other person is LaJoie. Marty is a reporter who has a unique style, and I enjoy his reports, interviews and opinions, but is best on the road. He seemed out of place this time, while I do sympathize with a tough travel day its not the viewers problem. BTW the Chase is NOT over yet.
RaceHub: This was awkward but the jury is still out, I'm going to give it the week. I was disappointed as I expected a live CC or driver guest not video feed. Even worse, not even fresh Dale Jr. Better question selections are needed for guests.
TWIN: This came off like the current shouting matches among fans. I'm liking Spence more and MW less. If anyone still has any doubt 48 is so successful mostly because of Chad, IMO its his appearances on this show that proves it. His ability to hang, take, dish and remain cool is just amazing. He is a past master at talking intelligently about things while giving none of his secrets away. And I still don't like the guy.
We'll see how RaceHub goes today, I hear Tony Stewart is doing some kind of live web event this afternoon and I'm sure they'll cover it, hopefully differently that NN.
Considering the many complaints that NASCAR is turning into wrestling, is anyone else LOL that Kyle "Rowdy" Busch and Joey "Soprano" Logano is hosting the next WWE Monday Night Raw??

earl06 said...

Thanks for the summary on HUB, JD. I was almost tempted to watch it. Doesn't sound like this show has the legs to make it very far. I guess this will prove to SPEED that it's far more difficult to get back something you gave away years ago than to keep it in the first place. Nice try...

Damon said...

The dislike for the 48 team is getting comical and I can understand why Jimmie would be a little surprised by it, when as he says, "he's just doing his thing", he's right.

There's a bunch of folks who can't stand the endless Dale Jr. and Danica coverage because they don't win enough, then there's the crowd that doesn't like Kyle Busch who gets upset when he doesn't win and vents his frustration, then there's that crowd that can't stand Jimmie or guys like Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe because they win TOO MUCH and are perceived as being boring or in the case of Franchitti/Dixon/Briscoe, they're foreign, makes me wonder how guys like Rick Mears (every bit as dominant in his day as JJ is now), Bobby Rahal (JJ-like in personality, but a 3 time CART champ),Michael Andretti (You think Danica/Kyle Busch whine, you ain't heard nothing until you've listened to Michael on the scanner) and Emerson Fittipaldi (a championship winning foreign driver) would fit in today's racing world rather than when they were at their best during the 80's-early 90's pre-social media sites like message boards, twitter, blogs, etc.?


As fun as it is to give your opinions on blogs like this or other message board forums, in a strange way I think it's actually hurt racing and taken away from the enjoyment of why people starting watching/liking racing to begin with because everybody just wants to complain about how bad everything in racing is these days and it makes me think, "if everything is SO BAD, why are you still watching? Just quit watching and do something else with your time that isn't going to stress you out so much"

Daly Planet Editor said...

Damon,

Isn't it interesting that the only thing missing from your post was a comment on the topic that we are discussing.

JD

Anonymous said...

I think he was referencing the 'Hendrick lovefest' comments and how the fans react to them, if only indirectly. I also think he has a point...we tend to be negative. Yes, we have a lot to be negative about with what we've been given on TV. Most of us are more apt to gripe about something we don't like (say, Jimmy Spencer), for example) than to compliment something we do (Craven/Evernham). Usually I think your original post is balanced, but some of our comments, mine included, tend to dwell on the negative. Human nature. If we'd had the internet during the old ESPN TV era, I bet we'd be griping about something. Like the lack of criticism of NASCAR because they were afraid of being fired. What we have on TV now is at least a little more honest. At least Ray can tell us what improvements he'd like in the COT...even if NASCAR doesn't listen.

BTW...I wonder if RaceHub suffers a little because they aren't established....I think it will take time for the show to be any driver's priority (unless SPEED pressures them a bit...)

Damon said...

JD,


I was commenting about what Chad said regarding people not liking for simply doing their job, "winning"

Dannyboy said...

I thoroughly disagree with the allegation that MW doesn't offer any insight. Maybe someone who attends a lot of races and has pit credentials might have noticed the kind of stuff that good crew chiefs like Chad do to get an edge over the competition. I don't have that luxury.

This was the first time I've ever heard anyone tell how Chad walks the pit lane at each track evaluating which pit might give Jimmie an advantage based on the current situation at that track before pits get selected. Anyone else here ever even think about this?

I'm continually stuck by the way in which personal bias seems to overwhelm facts when someone's favorite driver ISN'T on a particualr show.

Sophia said...

Dannyboy

I never knew Chad walked the track either to scout out the best pit stop. I love learning tidbits like this!

I missed Steve telling Mikey to be quiet but somehow had distractions on the earlier part of the shows on both showings.:)

Buschseries61 said...

I had a feeling the Race Hub was going to struggle after the Hall of Fame. Monday is bad because it is the same race highlights seen on Victory Lane and NASCAR Now. The taped interviews defeat the whole purpose of the show and location. But I am still hopeful the show can find its comfort zone and its place in NASCAR programming.

JD - It is getting annoying to see people come on here and other media sites to write random bulky paragraphs on why I should like Jimmie Johnson. Most offer nothing relevent to the topic discussed.

Anonymous said...

Um...the bit with Chad on pit road wasn't particularly insightful, you just have to be watching Speed. They were on live when Chad went to do this a few weeks ago and they interviewed him on the spot about it....apparently Mikey saw the same broadcast I did. It was nothing new (but point taken, if you weren't watching Speed you wouldn't know that.) It may have been NASCAR Live, I can't remember. In any case, even that wasn't new, I've seen stories before about how Chad chooses his pit stall. Probably means I watch too much TV...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Vicky D said...

Maybe all the panelists on the Nascar shows are thinking it's a foregone conclusion that the #48 team will be winning the championship and didn't know what else to contribute to each of the shows. I even mentioned Krista's hat in my comments yesterday because I didn't like it also I thought the audio was off. I think AA & Larry Mac should have been the ones wearing the hats with them being folically challenged. I also caught Chad's comment about another channel wanting to interview him and I told my husband that was Nascar Now calling him just like you said, JD. All in all just a boring Monday as far as Nascar was concerned. Top Gear was great, however.

Ritchie said...

Buschseries 61, JD, and others:

You don't have to like Jimmie Johnson! There, it is written. However, what many are seeing as a Jimmie Johnson love fest is in fact NASCAR news organizations recording history. That is their job. We don't have to like Jimmie Johnson, but SPEED and ESPN don't get to choose who wins the races either. I know everyone has their favorite driver, but what do we expect NASCAR media to do:

"Yes folks, that 48 team has done it again, won another chase race.
But enough of that, what about that Michael Waltrip, his up to 33rd in the point standings. Boy-howdy!"

It's a ridiculous concept when you think about it.

Once more, for the record, Jimmie Johnson is not my favorite driver. I simply have a problem with this constant degradation of the NASCAR news outlets because they are covering an event that should have everyone's attention. Think about it people, hopefully our children will look back at this point in NASCAR history and they may appreciate the fact that NASCAR news coverage captured this moment for them to enjoy just as we enjoy looking at clips of Petty, Pearson, Waltrip, and Earnhardt.

Anonymous said...

Ritchie, you have a point, but...I think what upsets people isn't that it's covered...it's that it gets beat to *death*. Now, I think part of that is perception...if you watch a lot of these shows, even though they're different networks, it appears even more repetitive. We're people who watch a lot of coverage. Do I expect them to go interview Michael Waltrip, no. But how about the top race finisher who's not in the Chase (in this case, Matt Kenseth.) Joey Logano also had a good finish. And those are stories too.

Buschseries61 said...

Ritchie - I agree that if he wins 4 championships it will be very historic. But I also have to agree with Anon @ 7:22 that it has been beaten to death. It is the job of the media to report ALL the stories, not just JJ and the Chase. There is a great battle for the top 35 between Scott Speed and John Andretti that is shrinking every race. The top 35 is a huge deal for both teams, yet not 1 word about it anywhere except Jayski.com. Drivers racing from mid-pack towards the front were ignored until they reached the top 10 and got a small shoutout. Michael Waltrip's jackman injury was completely ignored. I read a few days ago (on Jayski, again) he is done for the year. It is possible for ESPN and the rest of the media to balance JJ/The Chase & the Others.

Ritchie said...

You have my complete agreement that there are other stories that should be covered. The top 35 battle is definitely one that should be covered. I also agree that a crewman that gets hurt should also be covered. The drivers are only one part of the team. Losing a crew member to injury is as serious as losing a lineman in football.

That being said, if you read some of these comments that have been posted, the Jimmie Johnson backlash is getting a bit ridiculus. Let's not let our emotions override our sensibilities.

Anonymous said...

If you were watching Nationwide Series Qualifying in Kansas on Saturday morning you saw Chad walking pit road looking at the pit stalls. Wendy interviewed him about it.

Anonymous said...

"BE QUIET"

Hooray for Steve Byrnes for finally growing a set and taking control back of his show. He's been more like an announcer than host and more like a stage manager than a moderator. Ii am so glad he finally told Waltrip to zip it. Hopefully he'll be more forceful - not to be a jerk, but to save his show.

dupont24fan said...

I actually love the new NASCAR HUB. I think it is an awesome choice to have KRista Voda on the show. It doesnt hurt that she is a beautiful women talking racing. They do need a little more on set driver appearances. Otherwise i love the HUB. Hope it sticks around for a while

Richard in N.C. said...

In fairness to EESPN and SPEED, most of the media seems to be narrowly focused on JJ or on whether anyone can beat him (an important and historic matter) to the exclusion of almost everything and everyone else. Tunnelvision? I learned more about Mikey's crewman from TWIN than I'd seen on the internet.I don't recall JJ's situation being discussed in terms of how it compares to the greats of past years - the King, Dale E., and Jeff G. were never able to win 3 in a row, much less 4 titles. As I recall there is also a significant difference for 2010 from whether a driver finishes in the top 25, and I believe a win in the last 5 races might still get a car on the winner's circle payout for 2010. In other words I think there are a lot of stories and angles that the TV and print media are failing to cover.

I did not find the Hub compelling Monday, but it was better than the alternative, and I am still hopeful it will continue after EESPN puts N-Now into hibernation.

Ritchie said...

Richard in NC posted - "I don't recall JJ's situation being discussed in terms of how it compares to the greats of past years - the King, Dale E., and Jeff G. were never able to win 3 in a row, much less 4 titles"

Nascar Now, on October 13 interviewed Barney Hall at the late Benny Parson's property. They asked him to compare Jimmie Johnson to other potential hall of fame drivers (this was before the HOF announcement). His reply was that it is difficult to compare contemporary drivers that are currently still driving to those in the past. I didn't fully understand his answer, but it is still interesting to hear what someone like that has to say.

Anyway, the fact is that the subject has been discussed.

Richard in N.C. said...

Ritchie, I'm not trying to in any way diminish what RP, Dale E., or JG accomplished, but I was trying to say that the media has missed an opportunity to expand the discussion of what JJ has accomplished, and is on the verge of accomplishing, in historical terms and bring in what Hall of Famers accomplished. I interpreted Barney as saying it was hard to compare the abilities of drivers of different eras.I'm not saying JJ needs to be talked about more, just a different aspect.

Anonymous said...

The King Richard Petty said he thought JJ's championships were completely legit, and reminded everyone that he won his 7 championships under five separate and different points systems. He was able to adapt and win under each system, so who is to say JJ couldn't do the same? At current he has the most wins this year? His team is focused and ready for The Chase more than other teams, but who is to say they wouldn't be ready for a different format more than other teams? After all -- all the teams know the rules going in, and yet they can't beat him. It isn't The Chase that's making the 48 lead practice, take poles, lead the most laps, and have max-points days.

Kenn Fong said...

J.D.,

When I get home on Monday to Thursday, I have "NASCAR Now" and "NASCAR Race Hub" waiting on my DVR... After just a few programs, I've made "Hub" my first choice for replay.

West Coast Kenny
Alameda, California