Thursday, October 15, 2009

Powerful TV Coverage For Hall Of Fame

Unless you live under a rock, you know that NASCAR has been struggling with TV ratings and coverage issues as the Sprint Cup Series heads down the homestretch. Wednesday, the NASCAR Hall of Fame selection announcement provided a golden opportunity to get things pointed in a positive direction.

At the head of this effort for ESPN was Jerry Punch. As a Hall of Fame voter, Punch finished those duties and then appeared on both ESPNEWS and the NASCAR Now program. Mike Massaro hosted both from the ESPN studios and showed his maturity as he gave Punch the spotlight.

As those who watched the outstanding Ultimate NASCAR TV series can attest, Punch is best when speaking about the sport in the role of a reporter. Once again, this was the case as Punch spoke eloquently and sometimes emotionally about the history of NASCAR and the personalities involved.

Massaro interviewed a stellar line-up of Richard Petty, Kelley Earnhardt Elledge, Junior Johnson, Brian France and Lesa France Kennedy in the NASCAR Now program. It was the first time many NASCAR fans had seen Kennedy on-camera and while her comfort level was not high, it was important that she participated.

The high point of ESPN's coverage was Punch talking about his own experience of standing up and speaking about Dale Earnhardt Sr. during the deliberations of the voting panel. He relayed that Kennedy had become emotional while others were making comments about the impact her father and grandfather had on their lives.

This was the Jerry Punch that veteran fans knew and loved from the early ESPN coverage of the sport. Later on ESPNEWS, Punch continued to relay his personal experiences and provide a first-person account of this historic day. It was a nicely shining moment for ESPN in what has been a tough couple of months.

SPEED has recently discovered NASCAR...once again. A hastily added daily TV show debuted on Monday and the Hall of Fame announcement filled the network's schedule during the day and evening hours.

The afternoon program was fascinating and featured some of the best NASCAR content in recent years. The tightly controlled world of NASCAR was forced open during three hours of live TV. Led by Mike Joy, the panel of Kyle Petty, Darrell Waltrip and Ken Squier finally showed fans what is actually right with the sport.

They traded viewpoints and opinions prior to the announcement. Then, they captured the moment with interviews and the most powerful weapon of all, experience.

The panel welcomed France and Kennedy together for a live interview. There were many years of history between the family represented and the panelists. It showed in the interviews. Both France and his sister answered a variety of personal and professional questions.

It was a good moment especially for France, who was able to speak directly about his father and grandfather. Squier told the TV audience that Brian had also spoken during the deliberations. France had pointed out that his father would probably have preferred to have another driver included in the five selections rather than himself because it would sell more tickets.

Wendy Venturini and Randy Pemberton were reporting on this program and it was Pemberton who caught up with David Pearson shortly after the vote that left him out. Pearson advised that he was OK with not being selected, but there was little doubt he was the odd man out in this scenario.

While Teresa Earnhardt also made an appearance, it was Richard and Linda Petty joining the panelists on the TV stage that brought down the house. Ms. Petty has a wicked sense of humor and it was on display in stories that ranged from her husband's big wreck at Daytona to why in the world she let Michael Waltrip live with her family.

This type of living history lesson is sorely missing from the current NASCAR TV scene. The pathway of rebuilding the fan base for the future is clearly the past. These were not polished corporate spokespeople. They were regular folks just like us who liked racing. Isn't that how it all started?

In the end, this was a very positive day for the sport. Now, the action turns to the track. ESPN and SPEED are looking to carry this momentum into a weekend that will allow them not to compete with the Sunday NFL games but shine under the lights on Saturday night.

If you watched the Hall of Fame TV coverage, we would like your opinion. Just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.


PammH said...

Can't figure out why Jim Utter has no idea this was an all-star day of Nascar programming on Speed, when they usually just have crap reality stuff on during the wk! We both told him & then he disappeared. This was a stellar day! We sooo need more shows like this during the yr.

Anonymous said...

I thought the actual 'ceremony' was thinly produced, haphazard, and actually rather amateurish.

It was kinda like "lets get this thing over with so we can get to the hospitality suites."

The on-air programming and conversations were wonderful. There were WAY too many technical glitches with mic problems and, of course, the Big E video.

I can't believe there weren't any 'acceptance speeches' by inductees or their families.

Larry in Florida.

Sally said...

It was wonderful to see Jerry Punch in his real element, doing what he does best. The informal, non rehearsed and non scripted conversations were outstanding. Listening to the people who love racing talk about it reminded me why I loved this sport so much. It's too bad no one shows more of this. It also reminds me of what interesting characters the 'old timers' are...and how dull today's corporate spokespersons are in contrast.

Richard in N.C. said...

I was able to see a little of the morning coverage, but haven't had a chance to see anything since - but I doubt coverage can be much better than JD's commentary. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I didn't get a chance to see most of the coverage... but about five minutes in, I saw Pemberton's interview with David Pearson. Oh, man, it was really tough to watch. Pearson was putting on a good face, but you could tell he was absolutely crushed inside. At the end, Pemberton tried to cheer him up and said something like "Well, you have to understand there were only five spots and that you are a shoe-in for a future class in the Hall" and Pearson was just like "Yeah, I don't know, anything can happen" like he was just too depressed to even care and half-thinking he didn't belong. Maybe I'm reading way more into it than everyone else, but I found it to be heartbreaking.

The Loose Wheel said...

Annon, you are not too far off base. Mike Joy joined Dave Moody on SIRIUS Speedway at the end of the show and they discussed just that. Everyone agreed seeing Richard Petty and David Pearson get inducted together would have been ideal. But that being said, he put on a good face, said the right things and Pearson was a perfect gentleman in his interview. Drivers of today take note.

I hope he gets in next year. He deserves it and without a doubt in my mind is every bit as worthy as the 5 people already inducted. I can't say they got it wrong today, but man it was fun to watch. Didn't see any of ESPN's coverage, SPEED was just on the money today and they won me over. As long as ESPN struggles on Sunday, NASCAR Now is never a must watch anymore..

Hate I missed Linda and Richard Petty's moment on stage with the guys, gotta find it online

Anonymous said...

@anon and David--yes I agree! I was sad that the Silver Fox hisself didn't make the first class :(. He's a definite good man!

@JD--agree Ms. Lynda was great! I wish they could have had her for the full hour! She seems to be a riot!

LOL! at Mikey's stanky shoes and Kyle throwing them in the river!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

anon at 1100 pm wrote:Maybe I'm reading way more into it than everyone else, but I found it to be heartbreaking.

You are dead nuts on!
If the HOF is supposed to homor those who made the sport GREAT, then the criteria should include how individuals comport themselves in and out of the sport.
David Pearson exhibited more talent, class,humility and honesty than Junior Johnson. next to Petty, he is more responsible for the popularity of NASCAR in the 60's and 70's than any other driver, yet he's been screwed by NASCAR for years.
All he ever wanted to do was race. Petty had the good sense and support to invest his money and play to the fans.
I can't help but think Junior got in based on his "Last American Hero" mystique.
What a shame.

Cooter said...

Kudos to SPEED for providing great television for a great occasion!
I saw Harry Gant in the crowd. Did anyone interview him? If so, I missed it.
Pearson, take heart. You were destined to be last chosen if you made this year's slate. Now, you'll no doubt be the star of next year's balloting.

Halifax said...

Great coverage of a poorly executed event. And NASCAR puts two of its founding fathers in right off the bat? They forget that the drivers are more important than the captains of industry who control it.

Donna DeBoer said...

It was really cool and great to see guys and hear some of the stories, I was happy with coverage til the announcement itself, which I thought was pretty anticlimactic. Not even a few words from inductees or families? I guess it'll be full blown next May at the actual ceremony. And did they have one of those canned videos for David Pearson ready just in case? As a fan I voted for Bill Sr, R Petty, Earnhardt, Junior J and Pearson. I thought Bill Jr should be at the head of the next class as it didn't seem right to put both Frances in right off the bat. But I'm just a fan who thought wins counted more than business.

MRM4 said...

I saw part of SPEED's coverage. I agree the ceremony itself was rather lame. It lasted every bit of 10 minutes. It's like everyone showed up early, sat around for a while, and then left in a matter of minutes - kind of like a wedding.

Once they got to the interviews and memories, their coverage was great. It sure took me back to when I first became a fan in 1975.

Colorado said...

I, too liked the 'experience" from the panel. It evoked alot of personal memories, and I thought it was truly a great moment. Not so much the ceremony itself, which did indeed look as though they were in a hurry to be somewhere else. Sidenote: Can you imagine the sheer boredom if and when Jimmie Johnson gets inducted?? What kind of monumental stories will he have to tell? His dialogue is that of reading the phonebook. But anyways, I thought that Pearson should have made it, Earnhardt should not (at least until next year), but I appreciate the emotional memories of long ago.

Anonymous said...

without business there would be no wins. I guessed who the inductees would be correctly, but I'd have had Pearson instead of Johnson, everyone else the same. We could argue til the cows come home. I still think there ought to have been 7 or 8 to start.

But after seeing the repeat of the ceremony, it didn't seem very well put together. Not much for TV to fix.

Anonymous said...

I included below a post I made last night on the live blog since most probably did not see it.

Also, worth noting that in addition to ESPN2 showing "Together" on Wed, Speed aired "Dale" and "Ride of Their Lives" multiple times this week. Three films that are all outstanding in their own way and all narrated by celebs - Cruise, Newman, Costner.

A great overall week of devoted, quality NASCAR programming.

Reaction from last night:
Speed destroyed ESPN on today's NASCAR HOF coverage contest.

ESPN - Where was the discussion (god forbid debate) of the selections?

Why didn't we get to see the opinions of Ed Hinton, Ryan McGee, and Marty Smith?

Am I the only one who would like to hear Ed Hinton's case for David Pearson having once proclaimed him driver of the century in Sports Illustrated.

All in all, very happy that both networks devoted additional programming to NASCAR.

You have to give ESPN credit for showing "Together" on ESPN2 after NASCAR Now today. Plus they did cut in on espn news for the announcement.

Big thumbs up to Squier and Joy who shined in this showcase of their expertise. Some of DW's best stuff as well. Not to mention the theater that was created with the Richard going on stage with Kyle.

Andrew S. said...

Well, I was one of the folks having to rely on the the internet feed and for that I give Speed a big fat F. They shut it down right after the 5 inductees were announced. Mike Joy threw to a commercial break and it was gone.

As for the choices, I think they were the safe predictable ones. I would have gone more old school. Lee Petty before Richard. Herb Thomas before Earnhardt. Raymond Parks before Bill Jr but I can also understand why those 5 were chosen. Maybe the committee could have picked 10 names for the inaugural class and then 5 afterwards?

glenc1 said...

Andrew, I can't figure out why they didn't do that. Some of those with ballots said they wanted the five to be the marquee guys, the most 'bang for your buck', so to speak, to get the Hall rolling quickly when it opens. But I don't see they'd have fewer visitors if they put more in fact, maybe the old time fans won't even go til 2011. Doesn't make sense.

I had a root canal yesterday, so much more fun than listening to the live announcement, not! But I caught some of the repeats last night. I definitely enjoyed the Speed discussions. Everyone was right about Larry Mac's shirt and tie, what was he thinking....

also, I'm not a big Teresa fan, but I thought people complaining about her comments exaggerated. I thought any 'commercialism' was low key and was in response to the questions asked about the exhibits.

I didn't get to see ESPN so I can't really comment.

West Coast Diane said...

Did not watch ESPN. They have so alienated me I just don't care to watch.

Thought Speed was fantastic. Yes a few cliches with the actual annoucement, but I liked that they just made the announcements. There has been a lot of pre HOF stuff and I am sure the actual induction will give ample time to each inductee with more polished presenatations. This left more time for the discussions that followed.

I love it when people who have lived and breathed the sport all their lives tell stories. DW was so in his element. It was great to hear new least for me. I also loved the debate fregarding the process for selection going forward. They all had interesting perspectives that made you think about how it will work in future years.

Loved the interview with Junior Johnson...too bad it couldn't have been live.

No comment on who was inducted, we will all have to agree to disagree. You can cut six ways to Sunday and debate forever :-)

JD, since I did not watch ESPN, I didn't see Lesa Kennedy's interview. Thought it interesting you said she seemed uncomfortable. Because on Speed she didn't seem that way at all. I firmly believe, as with the drivers, they all prefer to be around the Speed people vs the ESPN folks. Don't have to worry about agendas, scripts, manufactured drama.

PS...sorry, but my husband and I thought Larry Mac looked quite dapper. I loved the combo.

glenc1 said...

It wasn't about fashion, lol. It's the lines on the shirt and how they jump around on TV. Almost dizzying...

William Duston said...

This is really really sad. Cutting Pearson out. Is it really too much to say, One official, one owner, and three drivers in the first year?

I'm cancelling my trip out next year for the 600 and the HOF, I wish I could send back the expensive brick I bought.

Richard in N.C. said...

The more I have thought about it the past few days, the more I'm convinced the inaugural class should have been at least 10 members. I think it should be apparent after yesterday that Ken Squier needs to be in the HOF soon, with Barney Hall. Ryan McGee has a very good, balanced article about David Pearson's not making the first class.

Sophia said...

Richard in NC

yep, some of us been saying that all along the first year should've had MORE inductees.

You can't ignore history for DECADES..then do this and not hurt some feelings. In grand scheme of things, I see what was meant about Pearson's statistics though just from what I've read and heard. but his percentages were quite high.

It's just for me, I think Pioneers are often gypped in history and I thought NASCAR could've made things right and caught up a little to have had at LEAST 10 the first year. Kenny Wallace said on Twitter to add lots more than that to help make up for lost time and he was correct.

Then after the first blast from the past, keep it at 5 per year.

but it is what it is...and hopefully hurt feelings will go away though I can understand. Pearson is still alive...Earnhardt has passed though deserved to be in there of course. It would not matter to delay Dale another year...but Pearson still here to enjoy this..and deserved it. I understand the France's belong but hoped they would leave room for another driver.

I just like to see people honored while STILL ALIVE but that's just me. :-)

The Loose Wheel said...

Little surprised there is no Thursday track activity thread

Steve L. said...

Why are we not blogging the Cup Qualifying?

Daly Planet Editor said...

We have not blogged Cup quals at LMS before because it was kind of cut and dried. Little late tonight, but the same deal.

We will have a post up tomorrow to keep up with the weather and track updates as the N'wide Series approaches.

Then we will live blog the race itself. Marty Reid with DJ and Andy.

Thanks gang!


Anonymous said...

Speed coverage good. Embarrassment of a ceremony. It's the inaugural class and that's the best they can come up with. Come on NASCAR PR! Terrible. Get with the TV side and do it right. France shouldn't have opened the envelopes. Should have been an emcee type like Joy, Bestwick or even Winston Kelly. The ceremony next May better be way better. What a waste.