• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM:

Monday, August 23, 2010

MOVING ON

Here's something I truly believe:

Anything worth doing is worth doing well.

And, as someone who has looked beyond my own personal passion for professional excellence at the real-life reality that journalism or public relations or any of my other career pursuits must be treated as business, here's something else I truly believe:

Anything worth doing is worth an acceptable financial return-on-investment of my time and energy.

After 14 months, I have discontinued my The Race Reporters show. I will explain why, briefly, but first let me caution the skeptics -- those whose default button is to believe the negative -- that this was my decision. Everything I share with you below is true fact and can be documented and verified, without any doubt.

My written agreement to host the show continued through the July 28 program. On July 7, I was offered a renewal agreement, to continue for a to-be-agreed-upon length of time, at the same terms. I declined that offer. To do the show the only way I wanted to do it -- at the highest level I could -- required, on average, four hours of preparation (research, writing, developing questions, booking guests, news release, show description, music selection, etc.). Add in the 90-minute round-trip travel time to the studio, and another 45 minutes of in-studio preparation, that brought the weekly commitment for a one-hour show to between 7 and 7 1/2 hours.

It seems to me not a lot of people are willing to stand up for themselves these days: I am. I am discontinuing the show due to insufficient financial compensation. Plus, there were some things I was told would happen, but didn't, such as an advertising budget to further promote the show. Here's the way I operate: If I tell you I will do something, I do it. If you tell me you're going to do something, I expect you to do it.

Last March, while traveling to do the show featuring Ashley Force Hood, I was involved in an accident. I believe a lot of people, in that situation, would have bailed out on the show. I called in and said I would be there but with only a few minutes to spare. I remember walking into the studio six minutes before the start, sweating and shaken, drinking a bottle of water, and doing the show as best I could. I have no memory of actually talking to Ashley or my other guests. I listened to the re-air a couple of times but it didn't jog my memory. I tell you this only to stress my level of commitment to the entire enterprise, as well as the guests, and most certainly, the listeners.

There was some miscalculation that my ego demanded that I do a show. As I said from day one, and repeated in the opening to the one-year anniversary show, that was not -- and is not -- true. The opportunity to do this came unexpectedly. I take pride in being the one who developed the concept, chose the title, picked every guest, selected every topic, and even decided on what day and time it would go live. Doing all of that with a high-quality format -- no gimmicks -- that resulted in the channel's top-rated show and a 2009 AARWBA journalism award. My greatest accomplishment was being able to put the right Newsmaker with the best media panelists and have a smart conversation. We LEARNED together. How many other shows can honestly say that?

I don't think I had any point to prove -- but since that's a typical measurement in this society -- I'll go ahead and say I think I made my point.

I stand with satisfaction of what I accomplished. It was high-quality talk and information in an age of shouting and nonsense, heat without light. My great thanks to all who helped, especially the Newsmakers and media panelists. And, most especially, to those who listened. Now, I must stand up for myself, and do so comfortable in the knowledge that I did my best. Thank you.


FAST LINES: At least three Fox News Channel hosts regularly criticize the slant offered on NBC and its cable outlets -- and I think there's more than a little merit in what they say -- but it was just the opposite last Wednesday. While the NBCers were going flat-out with live coverage of the historic withdrawal of the last U.S. military combat forces from Iraq -- MAJOR NEWS -- The O'Reilly Factor was featuring the pseudo-science of "body language." This reveals that pre-taped shows are very vulnerable to true breaking news -- but it also shows how network management considers it more valuable to stay with a "personality" show rather an interrupting to go to a big breaking story. Bad, BAD error in judgment. These days, I wonder if a flying saucer landed in the middle of Boise, Idaho, if that would be deemed important enough to preempt the recorded show of a news "star" . . . A very misleading USA Today headline last Thursday referred to a "new drivers union." The story was about the group meeting Indy drivers had at Mid-Ohio. The word "union" has a very specific meaning in America and what the Indy guys did in no way came close to forming a union . . . I'm more than a little curious as to how NASCAR will spin the Raybestos Rookie of the Year award, which this season, appears to be completely meaningless . . . The definition of crazy: Grand-Am in Montreal and ALMS in Mosport on the same weekend . . . Add this to an IRL TV season sure to be remembered for mind-numbing production decisions: Versus cuts to commercial with four laps to go (!) Sunday at Sonoma. And, again, the pre-race host talked over the National Anthem . . . They live in their own world: ALMS TV announcers who use car numbers as primary identification. Most people don't know any of the drivers, let alone their numbers (!) . . . Danica qualified 23d -- back in Milka's zip code -- finished 16th at Sonoma, but, hey it's all good: She'll be on The Simpsons . . . Here's a classic example of why you don't take what you read on chatrooms with a grain of salt -- but with pounds: Someone, noting the disagreements between the IRL and ISC, saying the IRL could start its own stock car division. (!) You betcha! Absolutely the Hulman-George sisters can't wait to write that check and will put Tony George in charge of this exciting new business opportunity!


I broke the story in last Friday's Arizona Republic that Firebird International Raceway will host a round of the 2011 NHRA Countdown. Use the first link below for that story and the second one to see what I wrote -- with more quotes, details and background -- for CompetitionPlus.com:
http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/2010/08/19/20100819nhra-arizona-nationals-date-shift.html

http://www.competitionplus.com/index.php/drag-racing/news/15215-phoenix-to-become-countdown-event-in-2011


Well done here by the Pocono Record -- and this should be a cautionary tale for those who play too many games with crowd estimates. Good job by the Record also in explaining just how it reached its number.
http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100815/NEWS/8150330


[ more next Monday . . . ]