Friday, February 1, 2008

2008 Will Bring Change To This Media Project

First of all, thank you very much to the folks who took the time to drop me an email and offer their views on what this Internet project has accomplished in 2007.

Started at the suggestion of some TV industry friends, The Daly Planet was originally intended to be simply a small NASCAR TV blog. It would allow current and former "TV folks" to talk about the first year of the new NASCAR TV deal.

Borrowed with respect from the Superman series, the blog title was a tribute to my father and grandfather, both of whom were newspaper editors. Both were also named...Daly.

In the beginning, I posted a column without comments and we all communicated by email. This went well until smart NASCAR fans, using search engines, discovered my little blog and flooded my email with lots of great opinions.

Once I turned the comments on, things took-off in an entirely new direction. Suddenly, I was getting email from old friends and TV executives who wanted to know what the heck I was doing talking about them. At the time, that was a fair question.

Once the first wheels turned at Daytona, and the multiple NASCAR TV networks hit the air, the question was answered. Without really knowing it, what I was doing was documenting one of the darkest TV seasons in the history of NASCAR.

Looking back through the archives, it seems almost surreal that we actually saw national TV networks who were struggling with the TV coverage of a fifty-plus year-old sport. Even off the track, networks were putting TV programs about NASCAR on the air that were essentially...horrible. There is just no other way to put it.

Fans began to express themselves on the Internet about this very difficult TV situation, and The Daly Planet became a destination. Suddenly, what I said mattered to people who never knew me. That certainly is an interesting transition, and one that continues to this day.

Given an honest opportunity, NASCAR fans expressed their views in wonderful and intelligent posts that began to get the direct attention of the TV networks, the mainstream media, and NASCAR itself.

Jay over at was nice enough to begin listing my columns, and kept a sharp eye on my content. It was nice to have someone who could "suggest" when I needed to step back, take some deep breaths and maybe a nice walk around the block.

As my visitor numbers changed from hundreds to thousands, I appreciated the opportunity to get help and input from some veteran NASCAR journalists. It certainly is interesting to get email from the Infield Media Center...during a race. Thanks to all of the "friends" who kept me informed and on-track.

Now, as the 2008 season approaches, there needs to be some changes to this project in order for it to continue. After getting some good advice from media and Internet veterans, I think those changes are well within my reach.

So, I have decided to continue The Daly Planet for 2008.

While the upside of this effort has been meeting the wonderful fans and readers, the downside has been the individual attention that running a blog with multiple stories and live comments requires. The long hours of email and writing and moderating have taken a toll both personally and financially.

So, the plan for 2008 is to switch-over to a stand-alone website that will contain a forum for readers. This way, the big problem of readers only being able to discuss the one or two topics that I raise in my columns will be solved. Registered members can come in and begin a thread on TV topics that are on-going, or maybe even update breaking NASCAR TV news.

The idea is to empower you, plain and simple. Many of my columns come from ideas sent to me by email. Often, I may have many great topics in-hand and can only address one or two in column form. Why not let you talk about them from your own perspective?

The switch to a stand-alone site will also allow me to let you actively participate in several projects that are NASCAR TV-related. Rather then only typing and swapping opinions, I have several ideas that will challenge you to create and then provide different kinds of content that we will then feature.

Along with a group of other NASCAR-related sites, I am also going to participate in a limited sponsorship program. Any participating sponsor will be sports-related, non-intrusive and will be asked to participate in actively providing discounts, free services or merchandise.

Finally, I had to learn the hard way that opening the Internet door all the way was sometimes just a little to much of a temptation for some folks with keyboards. Asking regular readers to simply sign-up one time without cost and register to post is hopefully going to calm down the folks who need to hate. The benefit will be that all of the registered users now get to originate posts and threads of their own.

So, while I tiptoe into the site design world, we will continue in blog format until the changes are complete. Since I only arrived at this decision late Thursday night, needless to say things are not too far along.

I will keep you posted, and pass along any good stories of me trying to talk "html" and site design with the professionals while trying not to disclose that my formal computer training consisted of being really PONG.

Thanks again for your patience, and I look forward to "opening up" even more of the world of sports TV, empowering you to voice your opinion and allowing you to show your creativity. What a year it's been!

If you would like to add a comment, just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. Thanks again for taking the time to stop by.

Great Column From Bob Margolis

Just click here to hyperlink and read an interesting column by veteran motor sports reporter Bob Margolis at Yahoo! Sports.

Bob does not mince words about his feelings on ESPN, and their changes for this season. As one of the most respected journalists in the sport, Bob puts ESPN on notice that their coverage this season will be carefully watched.

Any comments can be posted on the original Yahoo! Sports story. Thank you.

SPEED Wraps Pre-Season Testing Coverage

The testing programs that made-up a big part of SPEED's Pre-Season Thunder concluded on Friday night.

Running from January 7th through February 6th, this new commitment by SPEED to expanding pre-season coverage of NASCAR has yielded very positive results.

Other than two days of coverage showcasing the annual Media Tour in the Mooresville and Concord, NC area, the remaining shows in the schedule focused on testing.

Viewers saw the SPEED crew follow the teams to Daytona, and then move out West to the Las Vegas and California Speedways. In addition to the Sprint Cup testing, SPEED also covered the Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series testing at Daytona.

Right off the bat, SPEED showcased John Roberts who once again hosted the on-track programs. Roberts really came into his own last season, and because he is on the air so often for the network, transitioned right back into the NASCAR scene without missing a beat.

Although he often flies under-the-radar, he actually handles one of the heaviest workloads of any national sports TV personality now working. Tradin' Paint, NASCAR Live, Victory Lane, Pre-season Thunder and a little show called RaceDay take up his time.

This former lawn care worker is living out a dream by anchoring some of the highest-profile programming on SPEED. This season just might be a break-out year for Roberts, with broader TV opportunities on the horizon. Maybe that's the reason he is always grinning.

In support of Roberts, SPEED used a wide variety of individuals in this series. Steve Byrnes hosted the Charlotte-based shows, with Jeff Hammond and Larry McReynolds offering Sprint Cup analysis from both the SPEED studios and the tracks.

When Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series testing rolled around, SPEED brought Phil Parsons along to handle the analyst role. Parsons has been the "TV face" of the Truck Series for many seasons.

Splitting the reporting duties from the garage area have been Ray Dunlap and Bob Dillner. Dunlap is as outspoken as ever. His "in your face" style has endeared him to some and alienated him from others, but he is a character who can be both entertaining and informative. His Truck Series bowling feature will live on my DVR forever.

Dillner is working hard to create a bigger role for himself at SPEED, and the network has allowed him to be placed in the co-host position and also be used as the third man in the booth during Pre-Season Thunder. He has responded with a good on-camera presence and solid up-to-date information about the test sessions.

Wendy Venturini and Randy Pemberton returned briefly for the two days of Media Tour coverage, and basically went along for the ride. Their reporting was more from the perspective of a reporter on the Tour as opposed to a TV network covering it "as an event."

SPEED left something on the table with that effort, and although both Venturini and Pemberton came through with good information, it was basically the same content being pumped-out by the other reporters through their own media outlets. Look for SPEED to take a different slant on this "press junket" next season.

The Daly Planet has written several columns about SPEED's approach to "packaging" the testing shows. The network lays it out like a mini-RaceDay or NASCAR Live program.

The single host is joined by one or two others on the set. There is a garage area reporter, who also prepares a featured driver interview along with a daily news summary. Drivers are often shown in "soundbites" answering questions without the reporter having to appear on-camera. The "lead-in" or "intro" is handled by the host.

The analyst in the booth also prepares a "tech tip" and lends his knowledge in the "voice-over" of the morning and afternoon testing sessions. The summary segment at the end usually includes all three on-scene personalities, and closes the show.

SPEED has integrated significant "promos" into the show, including the Rolex 24, the All-Star race, SPEED in HD, the new website, the 100 Hours of NASCAR and even ticket promos for the racetrack where they are located for testing.

This package has been well-received, partly because it is the only game in town in terms of on-track NASCAR action. The fact that the network stepped-up and committed these resources is impressive, but the fact that they pulled it off completely and professionally is the point to be remembered.

Over the last several weeks, you have heard me ask for more on-track footage and more non-driver interviews. I felt showing come complete laps would be beneficial, and introducing us to the engineers and the engine builders would be interesting.

As SPEED now looks back at this first effort, what do you think of this coverage and what would you like to see included for the future? We have had some interesting ideas on previous posts, and now that testing coverage is over I can't help but think we have some good opinions and suggestions just waiting to be added.

To post your comments, just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. There is nothing to join, and we do not require your email address. We just want your opinion of several weeks of SPEED's coverage of pre-season testing.