Thursday, January 13, 2011

What I Hated about the New York Broadcasts

Sunday morning was just pretty damned dismal around the Stockyard, folks. We had watched the broadcast of the PBR event from Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, and we were dreading, literally dreading, what we might see on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, our worst fears were realized, and we also suffered additional atrocities that we just weren't prepared to handle. Here, in roughly the order that it all unfolded, is our joint list of disasters.

1. The voice of the man who does the intro voice-over. Honestly, this dude sounds like he just finished mucking out the barn in Cheyenne Wells, Colorado, before scraping the manure off his boots and heading to the microphone. I thought (mistakenly, apparently) that you didn’t have to be “country” to appreciate the sport of bull riding. Using this man for the intro pretty much knocks that notion into a cocked hat. Hearing him makes me want to chew on a straw and swig moonshine out of a little brown jug. And spit.

2. The voice of the woman who does the “coming up” voice-overs. Why is it that with the notable exception of Leah Garcia (who, as I have said before, actually could get away with taking her shirt off), virtually every woman featured on a PBR broadcast dresses like a hooker and talks like a provender of phone sex? (At one point on Saturday night, I turned to Montana Barn Cat and asked, “Who is that slut in the Daisy May shirt on top of the chutes?" Turned out she was the Rockstar girl.) This woman’s disembodied voice does nothing to persuade us otherwise.

3. The absence of Justin McKee. Did I hear anything interesting about a single bull this weekend? NO! Did I learn ANYTHING at all about any of the new bulls? NO! Can you connect the dots here?

If you concur with this sentiment, I urge you to email your objections to the PBR at You can also try emailing Jeffrey Pollack directly at, though I haven’t heard that he’s replied to anybody at this point.

4. The eternal lectures on the mechanics of bull riding. I have always loved Ty Murray, but if I have to put up with this endless nattering every time he’s on, I am going to learn to love him a lot less. I have already heard it so much I’m qualified to coach, as are most of my distinguished readers.

5. The abuse of the Telestrator. Anybody can draw circles around names on one of these contraptions. Either do something interesting with it, or give it the deep six. We really don’t need any further reminders about how clueless many of the PBR folks seem to be about technology—the big Live Event Center meltdown and the unconscionable screw-up with Cody Campbell on Sunday did that plenty effectively.

6. The ridiculous lack of information about each ride. About all we could really count on learning was the name of the rider. Reporting the name of the bull, the bull score, or even the final ride score—even one item at a time—all seemed to be beyond the abilities of the production team. If this is what David Neal meant when he said he wanted to “unclutter” the broadcasts, he can give me back the clutter right now. I might have to sic Niecy Nash on his ass.

7. The absence of Justin McKee. Maybe Neal really meant that he thought all that information McKee routinely provided about the bulls was just “cluttering up” people’s heads. He. Was. Wrong.

8. The perfectly idiotic features, like the clip with Brendon Clark and the Naked Cowboy and the Truth Booth. Does David Neal really think this stuff is funny? Or is he just so entranced with Clark’s charming (not!) accent that he loses his head whenever the Aussie opens his mouth?

9. The inexcusable omission of an interview with Valdiron de Oliveria after he won on Sunday. When is the PBR going to accept that most of its key riders speak Portuguese and hire a translator? Anybody with any sense at all would have done so long ago, if only to make sure someone would be on hand to help if one of the Brazilians got hurt.

10. The sight of Ben Jones’ missing teeth. I really appreciate Jones’ almost tearful acknowledgment of the PBR’s role in turning his life around, but surely the man has made enough money by now to get some dental work done. When I see him, I feel like I’m looking at Lil’ Abner. Maybe he and the Rockstar girl should get together. It might be a match made in heaven.

11. The long gaping silences while the cowboy in the chute got ready to ride. To that, I credit items number 3 and 7. Maybe if McKee had been on the scene, fewer people might have noticed how long de Oliveria took to get out of the chute on his last ride. Granted, the man did take a shot to the head just as he was about ready to go, but he was still in there longer than he needed to be.

12. The most damning fact about our experience is that when we were waiting for the short-go to start on Saturday night, I got BORED. The last time I was bored during a PBR broadcast was the big Tulsa fiasco of 2008. Remember that?

Though I have read that David Neal has something like 30 years experience in production, none of it showed during this broadcast. I don’t know if he’s trying to get by on the cheap, or if he’s just vastly misreading his audience, or both, or something else entirely, but I can tell you right now that I am not looking forward to another 29 broadcasts like the one last weekend.

And I categorically reject the suggestion that he just needs to "work the bugs out." If you sell yourself as making big improvements in a broadcast, the improvements need to be evident, front and center, from the get-go--no bugs, no glitches, perfect the first time. No. Damned. Excuses.

And, oh—did I mention? Bring back Justin McKee! NOW!


Shawk said...

I completely agree. I was utterly boggled by what I saw (except the parts where I nodded off or glanced away at a shiny object that was more interesting). Some of the issues are technical and can be fixed (although it begs the question as to why they weren't able to fix them before they went on air), but some were just basic catastrophic failures. When your clock, buzzer and scoring system fail in-arena and your displays for cowboys, bulls and scores fail on the broadcast, that's beyond inept. I did notice that they managed to get their streaming ads on the bottom to work. Awesome.

The features they did add were beyond useless. I don't want to hear cowboys grunting and I certainly don't want to hear the first time one of the cowboys with mics gets seriously hurt. The Truth Booth was ridiculous. The Telestrator was ridiculous.

I'm still steaming that they never interviewed Valdiron, who won four out of five rounds and the event.

I hope they see the light and at least bring Justin McKee back to do some features on the bulls or something. It just seems like the latest arbitrary, high-handed decision with no explanation (or credible explanation), and when fans freak out, it seems to be assumed that we'll get used to it. No thanks, I don't have to, PBR, and neither does anyone else. Please fix it so we don't have to "get used to" a messy, soul-less broadcast.

shannon said...

Well, it seems like they got the bugs worked out and I found Saturday's airing a bit more enjoyable with JW. We'll see how things progress. I know there's a "Bring back McKee" campaign going on, but I wonder if he'd even want to come back after being fired? Now, onto the original post:

1. I don't like this guy either. He doesn't sound comfortable with his script and sounds like a hick. I don't think bull riding needs that image for the people who already think that.

2. Believe it or not, I was so pleasantly surprised to have a "Coming up next...." announcement, that I didn't really register the voice itself. Last night, I listened closely and yeah, it does seem a bit much.

3. Agreed. Having Shorty introduce one bull at the beginning isn't going to cut it.

4. Ty seems like a nice guy with a good sense of humor, but he's just not cut out for commentating.

5. I'm willing to give the telestrator time. JW did much better with it last night.

Ok, I just checked again and there are 12 issues and since I don't want to make this too long (too late, right? :), I'll just generalize the the next part: I thought the part with McKennon and Brendon was cute, maybe Ben Jones, who I'm really growing to like a lot, will do something about the teeth with some of his winnings this year, should he continue to do so well and while I do think the silences were too long while the guys were in the chutes (which I think were a Ty problem because JW picked up the pace a little last night), I did like that it wasn't non-stop talking.

Jean said...

Hey SQ! Long time, no type ;-) We were without PBR for so long during the great PBR vs VS debacle that we have only just barely started getting back into the swing of watching it each weekend. I think this weekend makes a record 2 weeks in a row for us.

We didn't even know what changes were made so when we watched last weekend we were immediately struck by A. the sound (everyone sounded like they were talking through a paper towel tube, B. short torso vision (everyone looks 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide, C. CAN WE GET A SCORE HERE??, and D. What bull is that? Did they say?? WTF??

I agree Michael Gaffney seems like a neat person, but I confess I do not miss his rambling, barely sensible commentary and stammering. I really miss the McKeeisms and the flow of fascinating bull facts. I do not miss the occasional, insulting and/or stupid slips of his far right tongue. I'd, most certainly rather have McKee back and LOSE Hummer for pete's sake. If there was ever an inane commentator, it's Craig Hummer. His attempts at humor are beyond sad and I feel my own IQ falling like a frozen turkey out of a helicopter just listening to him. I want Leah back, and let's lose the brainless stuttering bimbo, can we please?

If they're getting rid of "clutter" why did I have to mute the 3 minute intro tonight to get away from the kawntrey twaaang sawng? What are those goofy pencil graphics over the bull rope showing a penciled in bull rope?? The "WIRED" schtick is ridiculous, all we can hear is the arena announcer anyway. What do they expect us to hear except for the occasional grunt, "oof", or "sonofabitch"?? The truth booth is a great time for me to go to the little cowgirls room, get a snack, go feed the ponies, etc. Tonight, what was that thing with the riders on the stools supposed to be anyway?? Due to the short torso vision they all looked like they should have some guy behind them with his hand up the back of their shirts.

I do wanna stick in a WOWZA here for Bushwhacker. 47.5 bullscore!! Holy Bull! Hope JB got pretzels on that flight.

Good to see VS hasn't replaced you with something vapid SQ. OH WAIT, they can't!! There's something we can be happy about ;-)


William said...

I can't say I like the new David Neal approach to things very much.

Firing Justin McKee was a terrible mistake. Nobody ever talks about the bulls or the stock contractors any more, and I'd rather see a mini-feature on a stock contractor than Brendan Clark in a wetsuit, personally (but maybe I'm under-rating the appeal of Brendan Clark in a wetsuit). And I miss McKee's "stickier than a..." schtick. David Neal apparently thought they were cheesy, but now all we get is the same grim Ty Murray lecture on every ride. I have great respect for Ty Murray, but he doesn't sound the least bit enthusiastic and probably came back just to bolster ratings while everyone was going through Justin McKee withdrawals.

I don't like the crawl at the bottom of the screen. If I cared about NHL results, I'd look them up. Meantime, they compress the screen and alter the aspect ratio so everyone looks like an Oompa-Loompa (or, in close-ups, like a chipmunk).

I don't care for the "Wired" business, which sounds like an attempt to replace McKee's commentary with "raw audio." But all I hear is the garbled announcer bellowing in the background, and the occasional expletive. And I can supply all the expletives I require on my own, thank you very much.

The Telestrator does amuse me, I have to say. Ty's talking about some guy's bull rope, and adds a little squiggle of yellow near the guy's bull rope. I'm glad, because I might never have spotted the bull rope on my own.

And finally, I want to know what Silvano Alves does to his hair. I can't so much as step outdoors without my hair exploding into a frightful Einstein-like mess, but Alves can ride a bull and pull off a helmet and he STILL has perfect hair. HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN?