Miller calls for ABC to Change Up announcers
This is an open letter to Rich Feinberg, ABC/ESPN's vice president of motorsports production, about whom to choose as the next play-by-play announcer for the Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series.
I'm writing instead of calling because I figure Rich probably wouldn't take my call and I understand that because I've been critical of ABC's direction, production and booth talent ever since somebody told Bobby Unser he could no longer criticize Sam Posey and Paul Page.
Since then, my moniker for the only network that's ever telecast the Indy 500 live has been Always Bad Coverage. It doesn't sit well with Feinberg and really hasn't changed anything so I backed off from the weekly criticisms in my Mailbag during the past year. Also, the fact I work for NBC Sports Network might make critical comments look like unfair favoritism, but I must point out that I was badmouthing ABC long before joining NBC's IndyCar coverage three years ago.
Anyway, this is a professional plea to Mr. Feinberg to upgrade his team because I want to see ABC grow IndyCar and be embraced by the fans and praised for the product it puts on air. ABC is making a renewed commitment to IndyCar in 2014 and this is the chance to recapture an audience that's tuned out of U.S. open-wheel racing in the last decade.
But the anchor helps set the tone, so here's my draft list in alphabetical order.
ADAM ALEXANDER: The former host of SPEED CENTER is now doing college football for FOX but he knows racing, he's got a good delivery and he's underrated.
DAVE DESPAIN: Sure he's a crotchety old man who can't hear and who hates street races but he's got the BEST voice in motorsports and knows how to push the right buttons when that red light is on. I doubt if he's interested but he'd be worth calling.
BRIAN TILL: Was excellent as the pinch-hit anchor for IndyCar on NBC the past couple years and the former Indy car driver is up to speed on all facets of the sport. Good reporter, passionate and very easy to listen to.
BOB VARSHA: Has anchored CART, F1 and sports cars coverage with equal aplomb during the past 25 years. He's a student of racing who's got many contacts and is well respected. Great voice.
VINCE WELCH: Longtime ABC/ESPN pit reporter, he's deeply immersed in open-wheel racing with his son (Dillon, who runs well in USAC midgets) and he's gone from a curious observer to a full-blown racer. Has a nice pace and presence in front of the camera, does his homework and he's ready to branch out.
Not sure if it's Feinberg who makes the final call for ABC but hopefully he'll at least consider the guys above. Looking at age, commitment, contracts, interest and passion, I figure Till and Welch are the best candidates. Either one would be a major upgrade and a good choice.
THAT RADIO GIG
While the IMS Radio Network anchor job for IndyCar isn't as important as television, being the voice of the Indianapolis 500 is still prestigious.
With Mike King out the door, the speculation is that it could be Jenkins, Mark James or Page but let me throw out two more names for consideration.
Channel 6 sports anchor Dave Furst, who has developed quite a passion for Indy car racing during the past decade, is polished, well prepared and easy on the ears. And Jay Baker made his name as the comedy sidekick on the Bob & Tom radio show but he's a career Indy junkie who knows the players and the history of IMS as well as anyone. And he's also got a great set of pipes. Full article at Racer.com