Monday, October 19, 2009
"Race Hub" Faces A New Challenge In Week Two
From out of the clear blue sky, SPEED suddenly dropped a weekday NASCAR news and interview show into the network's line-up. To say this program was a last minute scramble is an understatement.
The Monday through Thursday shows are designed to bridge a huge gap that has existed in SPEED's NASCAR coverage for years. Why this new series appeared with only weeks left in the ten month NASCAR season is anyone's guess. SPEED certainly isn't talking.
Week one of NASCAR Race Hub revolved around the Hall of Fame selections made last Wednesday. Now, that sideshow is gone and the reality begins to sink in. There is a new thirty minute NASCAR show to produce from the SPEED studios four days a week.
Back in 2006 when the new NASCAR TV contract was announced, I wrote a letter to ESPN's head honcho John Skipper about how important it would be to establish a small TV studio in the Concord or Mooresville, NC area.
NASCAR is unique in the fact that almost all the teams and associated businesses are located in a relatively small area. I reminded him of the RPM2Night legacy as the new NASCAR Now series got ready to launch.
ESPN declined and now often uses the ESPN Regional TV and ESPNU facility that is located in the far South end of Charlotte, almost on the South Carolina line. That is often the nameless location for Ryan McGee and Marty Smith's appearances. Not exactly the same as having NASCAR folks just stop by the studio.
Well, now SPEED has jumped into the game and this week some heavy hitters are on the line-up at the Hub. Perhaps, none bigger than Dale Earnhardt Jr. who will be on the Monday show. Tuesday features driver Matt Crafton while Wednesday's doubleheader is Tony Stewart and David Gilliland. The week ends with Jeff Gordon and Richard Childress on Thursday.
SPEED's location and intentions are good, the question is do they have the manpower and production planning to pull it off? ESPN is in the third season of NASCAR Now and is on a roll. Changes in talent and format have made that show solid all six days of the week it airs.
Unlike the hundreds of TV crew folks at ESPN, SPEED is patching together a crew for this new series at a tough time of the year. Lots of other sports keep the Charlotte area freelance TV folks rather busy. Keeping things simple and basic is the only way to go for this new show.
Krista Voda seems to be at the heart of this series, although she has not been formally named as host. Voda lives in Pittsburgh, PA and has a very real life outside of the sport and the Charlotte area. She also hosts the truck series pre-race shows and is a pit reporter for the NASCAR on Fox telecasts. What a combo platter.
This week, Voda is matched with Adam Alexander on Monday, John Roberts on Tuesday and Steve Byrnes on Wednesday. She has Thursday off and I am guessing it's a mental health day. She hosts the truck series this Saturday in Martinsville, VA.
No plans have been announced yet for what will happen to Race Hub once the NASCAR season is over. SPEED has just abruptly ended NASCAR coverage over the past several years and then picked things up again in late January.
Since ESPN also ends NASCAR Now in November, perhaps SPEED will be smart enough to keep things going during this very important off-season and become a new TV information source for fans.
We will keep up with the guest and hosts on this show as it develops. Despite the interesting timing, fans now have a locally produced show that targets NASCAR and hosts extended conversations on topics that are current in the sport.
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