The Unsung Heroes Of IndyCar

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Have you given a listen to the new & improved version of the IMS Radio Network this season? If not, perhaps you should.

When I say “new & improved” I’m talking about the two new voices you hear in the booth as opposed to the regular voices heard in the pits and out on the course in the various turns. Paul Page is not exactly a new voice to the broadcast. Not only has he had a few guest appearances in recent years – he was the main anchor from 1977 to 1987, before moving to the television booth in 1988. Pippa Mann was on the broadcasts for Indy Lights, before becoming the driver analyst with Page for this year.

Page replaced Mike King, who held the job from 1999 until last year. Oddly enough, King’s tenure was the longest of anyone to hold that job except for the legendary Sid Collins – who held the post from 1952 until 1976. Pippa replaces Davey Hamilton, who I thought did a good job during his stint from 2007 until last year.

Have I listened to the IMS Radio Network broadcast during the actual call of the race this season? No. I’ve either been in attendance or in front of the live TV broadcast for every race this season. But I do listen to them online during practice and qualifying on a very regular basis. When I listened to the first practice from St. Petersburg back in March, I was amazed at the chemistry that already seemed to exist between Paul Page and Pippa Mann. Page is more than twice Pippa’s age, but there seems to be a rapport between the two that belies their difference in age.

In my opinion, the IMS Radio Network crew are the unsung heroes of the series and the entire broadcast team deserves some recognition. Pippa Mann has proven to be an excellent driver analyst. She is knowledgeable and her accent is very easy on the ears. The pit and turn announcers do an outstanding job in relaying information to the listeners. Jake Query, Mark Jaynes, Nick Yeoman and Michael Young have worked together for quite a few years now and do phenomenal work

But I want to give a special shout-out to Paul Page. I’ve heard various comments that he has lost a step from his first stint in the booth or that he conveys no emotion. I disagree – on both points. I think he does a seamless job of intermingling the other announcers and letting them do their jobs and tell their stories. He also has quickly built chemistry with Pippa Mann and readily defers to her expertise, rather than trying to interject his own opinions – unlike his predecessor.

As for his perceived lack of emotion – he doesn’t scream at the top of his lungs when something exciting is happening. But I don’t think that means he doesn’t show emotion – far from it.

There is a tendency among sportscasters these days to try and become the star of the broadcast instead of the event they are covering. Look no further than ol’ DW on NASCAR broadcasts for a perfect example. Page takes a more understated approach to broadcasting – similar to my favorite football TV broadcaster, Pat Summerall. But never mistake being understated as a sign of a lack of passion. That would be a serious mistake when discussing Paul Page.

I had a good friend tell me that he thought Page’s call for the last lap of this year’s Indianapolis 500 was like he was calling the third day of practice. He said it was very underwhelming and unbefitting of such an exciting finish. I went back and listened to it a few days later. I wondered if we were both talking about the same call. While Page wasn’t screaming three octaves higher as his predecessor might have done, you could certainly sense the excitement in his voice.

There is much more to a radio broadcast than screaming and emotion while describing the action. Unlike television, the radio announcer has to paint a picture with words to convey every sense of what is going on. Page learned this skill from the master of painting word pictures – Sid Collins.

Has Page been flawless in the first half of this season? Hardly. But neither has Allen Bestwick, Leigh Diffey or Brian Till as his TV counterparts. When Bob Varsha fills in for Diffey later this season, he won’t be flawless either.

But if you haven’t tuned into one of the broadcasts this season and you’re assuming it is the same old gibberish you heard coming from an anchor’s mouth in past years, think again. Paul Page and Pippa Mann bring a refreshing spin to every practice session and qualifying round compared to past years. If I ever find myself away from the television during a race, I am confident that they will deliver to me a very descriptive and informative broadcast.

The IMS Radio Network crew puts in a ton of hours every race weekend and gets very little recognition. In my opinion, they are vastly underappreciated for what they do. This entire broadcast team deserves some credit for a job well done.

George Phillips

Please note: There is no race this weekend or next. This is also Father’s Day weekend and since I am a father, I will use that as an excuse to push away from here this weekend. Therefore, there will be no post here on Monday June 16, but I’ll return on Wednesday June 18. Enjoy the weekend! – GP

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21 Responses to “The Unsung Heroes Of IndyCar”

  1. Bent Wickerbill Says:

    Agree 100% George, the entire IMS Radio crew is excellent and greatly improved by Paul Page over what it had been and Pippa is indeed a breath of fresh air as well. Whenever possible I stream them for every practice and qualification and I will also occasionally listen them in lieu of the television broadcast … Great stuff….!!!

  2. Doug gardner Says:

    Pippa is the star George. Paul has improved since Indy. He called Marco Michael the entire race. Slipeed once on helio and called him Mears, but I think he has shaken off the rust. Pippa is outstanding. As are the other drivers doing broadcast work. Bell, Tracy, even dario for a short bit. Just very insightful and willing to pass it on.

  3. Phil Kaiser Says:

    Hey George, it’s the spelling police again! LOL! The plural of “hero” is “heroes.” Hero’s is a contraction meaning “hero is” or “hero was” or “hero has.” Hope this helps!

    Couldn’t disagree with you more on Paul (“Wrong”) Page then or now, especially when you haven’t heard him call a race this year! He is as out to lunch as he’s ever been, perhaps even more so now that he’s nearly three times Pippa’s age. I was talking off-air the other day with someone who knows (and you know) and they said they love the guy, but his time has obviously passed. During the Indianapolis 500 this year three quarters of the race went by and Page never even told his radio audience once what lap the field was on, not one time! That is a fact! What else is he there for? Call me and I’ll tell you what I know, but this guy shouldn’t be anywhere near the booth for IndyCar, his day (if he ever had one) passed long ago….

    Sorry to be so critical, but we need better in IndyCar if we’re ever going to advance our sport, no two ways about it.

    Phil Kaiser
    Indianapolis

  4. Phil Kaiser Says:

    Forgot to say I agree with every bit of acclamation Pippa is getting; she is very good in the booth and her “Queen’s English” is SO refreshing to her! And the rest of the guys are very good as well!

  5. Phil Kaiser Says:

    Jeez, I meant to say “refreshing to hear.” Now I need the spelling police! LOL!

  6. Hal Bush Says:

    Obviously, beauty is in the eye of the beholder or in this case the ear! I listened to the radio call of this year’s 500 while I was sitting in my Paddock seats. I was NOT disappointed. Page called a great race and I know that I was well informed because I know what I am talking about. Call me, too, George and I’ll tell you WHAT I know.

  7. Ron Ford Says:

    Mike King’s voice just grated on me. Paul is an improvement in that regard, but he does make a fair amount of mistakes. I’ve been wondering how boogity, boogity, boogity would sound with Pippa’s accent. Since it is radio, perhaps the best attribute an announcer should have is the ability to create vivid images in your mind as you imagine what is happening. That Lone Ranger guy would be awesome.

    On TV I prefer a more understated approach rather than the Leigh Diffey screaming. Dario is fun to listen to and adds lots of insight of course.

    George, if you have time after calling Phil and Hal, have your people call my people and I will have them tell you what I know.

  8. Ryan Johnson Says:

    Every time I think of Paul Page I go back to the 500’s he called in the late eighties and early nineties and when the race would be in its closing stages he would either 1) be completely silent for a few laps and let the viewer take it in as if he was there in attendance (something that is rare, if not non-existant these days) 2) He would portray unbelievable excitement flawlessly, but he would do it in such a subtle way that it appeared he wasn’t even trying. To this day, I still believe Page to be the best racing broadcaster I have had the pleasure to listen to. That’s coming from a twenty-five year old who may not have a lot of years to draw from, but one who knows that he doesn’t need a lot of years to draw from to know that Page is just simply one of the finest.

  9. I’m never able to listen during the race, but I always download the podcast to listen during the week: http://indycarradio.com/index.php/media/podcasts/

  10. 给我打电话。

    • dzgroundedeffects Says:

      什么不对您的订单?送货非常快一如既往。请接受我们谦卑的歉意。40鱿鱼是一个相当大的订单。

  11. SkipinSC Says:

    George,

    I did something this year for the 500 that I never would have considered with Mike King on the IMS radio broadcast: I DVR’d the TV, and hooked my laptop into my outdoor sound system so I could enjoy the race (on radio) at poolside instead of wasting a gorgeous day in front of a TV. It was very “Old School” and reminiscent of how I listened to the 500 as a kid.

    While I don’t have a recording to backcheck, I have my doubts about Phil Kaiser’s claim that Page failed to mention the lap count, especially because of the unprecedented number of consecutive green flag laps to open the race, which as my memory serves were noted on several occaisons.

    I completely agree on the chemistry between Page and Pippa Mann. It feels as though they’ve been working together for years. A couple of the turn reporters could use a little “mellowing down” as there are still a couple of “screamers,” but overall, I found the broadcast enjoyable and may repeat the process for Pocono.

  12. billytheskink Says:

    Page was an excellent choice to replace King simply because of the passion we know he has for the sport and the nostalgia many fans fell when hearing him call a race. At least a handful of people have tuned into IMS Radio network broadcasts more often this season simply because of Page’s presence.

    As far as his competence goes, I have not struggled with it, but I also have not forgone the television broadcasts for radio coverage for more than a handful of laps this season.

    Pippa’s improvement as a radio analyst this year has been tremendous, no doubt helped by Page’s less-dominating presence.

  13. I was glued to the radio broadcast of the qualifying weekend and enjoyed it immensely. I felt very clued in and was very ready for the television broadcasts that Saturday and Sunday. Frankly, it very added to my month of May. I amy not listen much to the radio broadcasts but if the Indy Qualifying is any indication then the radio listeners must be enjoying themselves.

    With that said, I will put the earphones on and listen to the radio broadcast for Milwaukee.

  14. dzgroundedeffects Says:

    I’ve listened to two full races, St Pete and Detroit 2. IMS radio has been markedly improved in my view. Pippa has been terrific – obviously very prepared, smooth, and adds interesting racing and technical bits which I appreciate immensely. Paul has been a bit rusty, but even so, a welcome improvement. It seems the technical side (remote mics/switching) has also been inconsistent and, while I appreciate the ‘eagerness’ to paint a picture for the listener, I’d agree that the remainder of talent bring it down just a notch to have a more composed and professional feel.

    Overall an improvement with the added unexpected delight of Pippa’s rapport and skill on the radio.

  15. I was disappointed with the IMS call during the 500. I much more prefer the PRN/MRN radio calls I hear at other tracks.

  16. as a kid growing up within the blackout zone for television, my best memories of the 500 were formed by listening to the race on radio in the back yard. still enjoy listening to it, only now on satellite radio instead of transistor. I enjoy listening to P Page and hope he continues until he wants to quit, but then I wouldn’t mind if Pippa took over the big chair, because I think she’s that good.

  17. I have heard much of the radio work this season. Paul’s use of the drag racing lingo the first weekend and part of the second bothered me a bit, but he has put that behind him and seems to be pretty much back in rhythm with IndyCar racing now.
    He has struggled a few times with drivers’ names, as mentioned above.
    Pippa is very good, maybe even to the detriment of her aspirations to be on the track. Some people who could make a difference, mike see her as a greater value to IndyCar from the booth, rather than in a car, and that might affect some financial decisions.
    I find is interesting in this age of of TV and internet, and all that we can see through both avenues, that we are even discussing radio broadcasts.

  18. usgpaustin Says:

    Reblogged this on USGPAustin and commented:
    Just found your blog and enjoyed reading your latest post about IndyCar radio. Great stuff. Also been reading about Pippa Mann and did not even realize she’s in the booth. And Paul Page…did not know he was doing broadcasts either. Fully agree that not a single one of these personalities is going to be perfect, but Paul Page is a consummate professional and amazing at what he does.
    Thanks for the post, a good read.
    USGPAustin on WordPress

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