Tuesday, April 3, 2007

NASCAR Now: Shannon, Can We Hear You?

Doug Banks was back as the host of NASCAR Now on Tuesday. When he is around, things happen...and Tuesday was no exception. The reality of Banks lack of NASCAR knowledge makes his attempted interviewing of anyone connected with the sport a chore...and that's when you can actually hear them.

Reporter Shannon Spake was stationed in Richmond, Virginia to cover a testing session for the COT. Spake is very professional, and is quickly becoming a fan favorite for her hard work and ability to deliver a strong news story. Unfortunately, behind Spake throughout the entire NASCAR Now interview with Banks was one big, loud problem. I believe they call them NEXTEL Cup cars.

Spake was drown out by the roar of V-8 engines and her entire report from Richmond, including a question-and-answer with Banks was useless. Literally, I could not understand a word she said. How is it possible that this was allowed to be aired on ESPN2? How is it possible that no one on the engineering staff pointed out that there was a problem? Finally, how is it possible that in a taped show no one suggested...that she move to another location...and do it again? At the conclusion of the interview, Banks said "I love that noise." Of course he does, its the only thing we heard!

Thankfully, fellow reporters Angelique Chengelis and David Newton stopped by to answer some scripted questions from Banks. These two should be allowed to speak freely and not continue to be tied to sophomoric questions from the host. The information was great, and covered a wide variety of ground. A stand-alone feature segment wrapped around news would be a welcome addition, especially with a strong personality like Chengelis. Why is NASCAR Now scared to let their reporters...report?

One of our favorite drivers, Mike Wallace, stopped by for a rare interview about the Geico Chevy. This is rare, because even though ESPN spent millions for rights to the entire Busch Series, NASCAR Now continues to be obsessed with NEXTEL Cup. They don't even show Busch race highlights on Mondays. Wallace was patient in answering simply horrible questions from Banks. With NASCAR Now over two months old, ESPN has to make some changes.

Yesterday, NASCAR Now was a fast-paced outstanding effort that finally produced a solid result for this struggling series. Today, the show backslides into the same amateurish production that has resulted in countless angry posts to NASCAR message boards and chat forums nationwide. Is this the same network that produces SportsCenter, ESPN News, and The X Games? Why aren't we talking about the solid programs and fun interviews that NASCAR Now could be doing? Instead, we have two hosts with little or no NASCAR knowledge who read scripted questions to bored guests and rehearsed reporters. Is what NASCAR signed up for when they partnered with ESPN? There is more info on Jayski.com's front page than on thirty minutes of NASCAR Now. How long can ESPN hold out before making wholesale changes to the program?