Sunday, September 20, 2009


SWEET TREAT: To celebrate last week's 40th anniversary of the first race at Talladega Superspeedway (quick -- who won?), track president Rick Humphrey surprised members of a tour group with cake in victory lane. Showing that the small PR gesture still has a useful role. 'Dega hosts the Amp Energy 500 Cup Chase race Nov. 1. (Answer: Richard Brickhouse.)

Since I began hosting The Race Reporters (Wednesdays, 7 p.m. EDT, last June, I've found myself listening to national and local sports talk radio in a different way.

I pay more attention to the promos. Here's something I've noticed: People who used to be "reporters" now are called "personalities."

I hear that these shows are "personality-driven." I think they are more EGO-driven.

See how many of these items apply to those on your audio speaker:

1. The host mentions he has tickets to a sold-out concert.

2. The host mentions who (celebrity) he played golf with and/or the premier course he played.

3. The host mentions the party he is going to/went to and who he met.

4. The host talks-down to the audience. (In Phoenix, one guy said last week that he had received 140 E-mails about the Arizona Cardinals, and "only two of them were intelligent.") Or, rips fans for not "supporting" (read that: buy tickets) to an event, while talking about what he saw from the press box or premium seats.

5. The host has stupid nicknames for studio sidekicks, producers or engineers.

I, as a listener, don't give a damn about any of the above. I wonder why these hosts would think you would. Oh, I already answered that: EGO. (!)

Information for the August TRR (four shows) vs. July (five shows) is in: Our total numbers increased by just a fraction under 800 percent.


Let me repeat what I said when the TRR was launched. What I am working hard to offer you is INTELLIGENT INFORMATION. I am most proud of the very high quality Newsmaker and media guests who have accepted my invitation to join the conversation. Yes, I have my brief commentary in the opening segment. Then, I try to get out of the way and let you hear from the likes of Richard Petty, John Force, Ashley Force Hood, Dario Franchitti, Tony Schumacher, Scott Pruett, Ray Evernham, Chris Economaki, Joey Logano and the other Newsmakers who have been on. As well as a selection of the country's top journalists. I see my role as steering the discussion, asking questions, and adding points-of-interest.

We'll go again Wednesday night, with four-time NHRA Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. Alan Reinhart (NHRA top-end announcer), Mike Kerchner (National Speed Sport News senior editor) and Jeff Burk (Drag Racing editor) will join me for the journalists' roundtable.

As I promise at the start of every show: If you listen, you'll learn. And, as I conclude each show: If you read and listen to good journalism, you'll be a better race fan.

Please keep listening. Or give us a try. Thanks again.

Sure, this is a great excuse to run a picture of Jennifer Aniston (new movie, Love Happens), but I AGREE with her 100 percent in this quote from Parade magazine:

“It’s embarrassing that people are focused so much and putting so much money into gossip magazines to escape. The paparazzi and the magazines deserve their share of the blame, but they’re just supplying a demand. It’s unfortunate that people don’t care that they’ve been lied to, they don’t care that they’re being sort of messed with and not given the full truth. They buy them anyway.”

FAST LINES: Every journalist and media organization in this country should be desperately worried about the results of last week's Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey. No less than 63 percent consider information they read, hear and watch frequently inaccurate. That's the highest level of skepticism since the survey began in 1985. I'm not saying the poll is perfect. I am saying to the business and editorial decision-makers: YES, the economic environment is terrible. But just why would you expect people to buy your products given this perception? Improved quality is a key to any financial rebound . . . NASCAR steered away from what it did in the past for national pre-Chase promotion from the New York City media day. Previously, individual tracks hosted a local gathering in a restaurant or other suitable location, and four drivers came on via satellite TV for interviews tailored to that market's event. This time, while there were satellite interviews to specific stations, it otherwise was done via the regular Internet/phone format. I'm sure cost-cutting was an issue. I have no doubt the talking point would go something like, "We took advantage of technology to make this more convenient for the media." OK, but, at the foundation of good PR is building one-on-one relationships. The previous format offered the chance for that in-person experience as well as localizing the story (read that: Ticket $elling). My politician friends call this an op to "press the flesh." This time around, it was used to press the "send" button for another E-mail -- just how many phone calls were made to media reminding/encouraging them to participate? . . . EVERY team owner, sponsorship manager and "PR" rep should be sat down in a room together and required to watch and listen to this -- and I'm referring to the announcer's commentary (note the down-arrow graphic): . . . I've been told by NASCAR it does not release black-box crash data, such as Gs at impact. Drivers I've asked have punted. (Since such info is readily available in other series, that only leads to suspicion.) Apparently, though, Ron Hornaday Jr. didn't get the memo. In the New Hampshire media center, he admitted his accident at Gateway registered 68 Gs . . . Legendary TV production executive Don Ohlmeyer's postings, in his role as ESPN's new ombudsman, are educational for those wanting to learn more about the "inside" of the biz . . . Excuse me while I roll my eyes: ESPN Radio's Dan Davis said, in a commentary last week, that the PGA Tour players policy board should adopt a rule that pros can wear only ONE sponsor ID per round. (!) Hey, Dan, if that happens, I hope ESPN will find the budget to let you cover the European and Asian tours, because that's where a lot of the top players will be teeing it up . . . The American Media, Sept. 17, 2009 -- Ted Kennedy Jr. (selling a book) to NBC News cable's Hater-In-Chief: "My father was a huge fan of this program." Cue the Hater-In-Chief (bowed head, misty eyes, lump-in-throat, deep breath): "I remain speechless at the thought."

Upcoming The Race Reporters guests:

September 30 -- John Daly (editor, The Daly Planet.) Panelists: Lewis Franck, Jonathan Ingram. Plus, NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Karen Stoffer.

October 7 -- Gil de Ferran. Panelists: Mike Harris, Gordon Kirby.

October 14 -- Bryan Sperber (president, Phoenix International Raceway). Panelists: Terry Blount, Ron Lemasters Jr.

[ Jeg Coughlin Jr. news notes Thursday . . . ]