Saturday, November 14, 2009
Take A Good Look At Marty Reid
Saturday's Nationwide Series race gets underway at 4:30PM ET. Turn up the TV a bit to hear the play-by-play call offered by ESPN's Marty Reid. His voice may just be something you'll hear a lot more of in the future.
Reid has already worked on both the IRL and NHRA packages for ESPN. He also founded CORR, an organization that sanctioned off-road racing. Needless to say, Reid has been around all kinds of motorsports where TV coverage is concerned.
This season, Reid was eased into the NASCAR on ESPN line-up to take over the Nationwide Series races in late July. The weekend of the NASCAR race from the Brickyard marked the beginning of ESPN's Sprint Cup Series coverage.
Reid coming on board allowed Jerry Punch an opportunity to focus his efforts on the Sprint Cup Series races. Earlier in the year, ESPN produced two Nationwide telecasts without either Punch or Reid. It was an experiment to allow a group of four analysts to talk casually with the fans. On both occasions, it failed miserably.
This season, ESPN has discovered that Allen Bestwick is money in the bank when he hosts the pre-race show from the Infield Pit Center. Bestwick remains live during the race, handling everything from in-race recaps to rain delays and red flag periods. In addition, Bestwick has established himself as a strong presence hosting the Monday night one-hour edition of NASCAR Now.
Although previously used in a play-by-play role by other TV networks, ESPN made a decision to keep Bestwick in his current position and bring Reid into the NASCAR world. Those decisions are not made lightly.
ESPN has a problem and they must fix it. In 2007, the network took a man who had spent many of the previous years on various college football sidelines as a reporter and put him in the high-profile position of a NASCAR play-by-play announcer.
The television package Punch took over was massive. The entire Nationwide Series season and seventeen Sprint Cup Series races. Many of those weekends included practice and qualifying sessions for one or both series. In addition, ESPN used his talents for programs from SportsCenter to NASCAR Now on a regular basis. It was clear to many at the end of 2007 that this was just too much for one person to handle.
Instead of bringing in additional help for that position, a change was made in the Lead Analyst role as Dale Jarrett joined the team. Rusty Wallace moved to the infield with Bestwick. As is usually the case, avoiding the obvious problem did not subsequently make it better.
Reid has brought a different level of excitement and enthusiasm to the Nationwide Series telecasts. He calls out the start-and-park cars, speaks freely with his analysts and enjoys the irreverent Randy LaJoie in the TV booth much more than the politically correct Dale Jarrett.
At times, Reid has expressed his displeasure with the ESPN Producer right on the air by talking about where the racing is and the camera is not. TV viewers have seen Mike Joy do the same on Fox. The fundamental belief is that the TV viewers deserve to see exactly what the fans at the track are watching. That is usually the best racing on the track, regardless of the position.
When Reid and Bestwick are teamed up on a Nationwide Series race ESPN serves up a very different final product. Despite the continual efforts by the Producer and Director to stick to a pre-scripted storyline, both announcers regularly change that focus by pointing out something going on in the race. The TV cameras must then follow.
The final weekend in Homestead is always overblown, overhyped and full of all kinds of distractions that affect the final TV product. The telecast focus swings from the leader of the race to the leader of the Chase and the only other thing viewers see a lot of is commercials. There are so many ESPN management cooks in the Homestead soup it winds up never tasting very good.
Instead, it will be this Nationwide Series race in Phoenix that may give NASCAR fans a sneak peek at what they may be hearing a lot more of in 2010 as Reid calls the event with Jarrett and Andy Petree. Bestwick will be in the infield with Wallace and Brad Daugherty.
While not all those personalities may be in exactly the same place for next season, it certainly is likely that with only a handful of IRL events on the 2010 ESPN calendar, Reid will be taking a much greater role in the live NASCAR telecasts.
TDP will be live blogging the Nationwide Series race, so please feel free to join us on Saturday afternoon as we watch this event together.
In the meantime, perhaps you could share with us your opinion of Reid this season on the Nationwide races since July. To add your TV-related thoughts, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Comments may be moderated prior to posting.
Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.