How Fox Sports’ Mike Joy has changed with the times

There have been big changes in NASCAR since the beginning of the 21st centurySt century. New tracks were added, old ones disappeared, drivers and even entire teams came and went. The way champions are determined in sports is far different, stage races are now a thing, and some things that were once thought impossible now seem commonplace.

However, one thing has been a constant: the voice fans hear from their TVs during the NASCAR Cup race broadcast on Fox

Since 2001, Chicago native Mike Joy has been the voice fans hear on Sundays. At least during the first half of the NASCAR season. However, Joy, who was raised and still lives in Connecticut, didn’t just show up in a booth one day and start broadcasting. It’s actually been quite a journey for a man about to enter his 23rd yearrd back-to-back year calling for races on NASCAR’s biggest stage starting in just a few weeks.

“It was a long road to get there,” Joy said, reflecting on his first Daytona 500 broadcast. moving to radio, then CBS and Fox with first Formula 1 and then the start of NASCAR. in 2001.

“It was great working with them. I’m surrounded by really good analysts and journalists, producers and directors, (it) makes my job really easy. And I promise you, it’s still as fun as it ever was.”

During more than two decades in the NASCAR cockpit, Joy has seen many changes, not only on the track, but in the cockpit as well as in the transmission.

“I think the biggest advancement is the in-car GPS transmitters that handle all the scoring. Even the GPS in the car connects to our graphics,” he said.

This interface led to better information that could appear in the transmission.

“Fox was the first to move the running marker on screen in 2001,” Joy said. “And we watched it eight ways until Sunday: down the right side of the screen, down the left side of the screen, across the top, across the bottom. And what we finally settled on was what people were used to seeing: the stock ticker at the bottom of the screen on financial channels.”

The viewers couldn’t figure it out at first.

“We’re starting the races, we’re getting crazy mail,” Joy said, laughing. “People say, ‘the cars go this way, the ticker goes that way, ‘I have to put a piece of tape across the top of my screen or I get confused.’

But it didn’t take long for viewers to get used to the ticker.

“Like a Fox Box in the NFL with a constant display of scores and time remaining, I can’t imagine watching a race, whether on TV, cable or streaming, without a scoreboard and without constant updates of the positions,” he said. He said. “And then the default second line is the interval to the leading one. So, just by watching that ticker go across the screen, if I’m watching one particular driver and seeing if the gap is going down or going up, I can tell if he’s gaining on the leader, if he’s losing time on the leader and where he is in the race.”

Perhaps the greatest technical advances in sports came before Mike Joy worked for Fox.

“CBS was a pioneer with the built-in camera,” he said. “There were cameras before, but not cameras that would tilt and move and cover the action in different ways. This is something that a couple of colleagues in Australia pioneered. Peter Larson and John Porter brought it to CBS in the US. And Peter is still in charge of BSI which handles on-board cameras for motor racing, a range of remote and motion cameras for golf and other sports.

“We’re really proud of some of the things that we’ve been a part of pioneering that people might just take for granted as part of the coverage now, but they’re very important.”

Another thing that has developed in this century is social media. Joy said he can’t pay too much attention to social media during a race, but he remembers when it became important in NASCAR.

“Social media first appeared in racing when Brad Keselowski tweeted a picture of Juan Pablo Montoya on fire in a jet dryer at Daytona to red flag the race (2012),” he said. “That got everyone’s attention. And it got everyone racing on Twitter.”

These days, drivers regularly interact with fans on social media and teams always update fans during events. And Fox constantly monitors social media, including during the race. It has become another element that goes into the broadcast of the race.

“We have a person. Our stage manager, Andy Jeffers, monitors social media during the race,” said Joy. “And a lot of the time those discussions will lead us in interesting directions in the conversation that we might not have gone on our own.”

Away from the race, social media has been a good conduit from fans to those in the broadcast space. Joy once said that one letter can represent the opinion of 500 viewers.

“It was like a benchmark,” Joy said.

“With social media, the viewer has a direct connection with the people involved in the telecast. And it’s a powerful tool.”

Joy added that while social media can be offensive at times, it gets a lot of good ideas from viewers.

“We don’t watch the telecast, we do the telecast,” he said. “So I have a lot more information, camera angles and input than people see at home. So occasionally there’s a story we’re not telling, there’s a driver we’re not covering. We could miss someone zooming through the field. Someone may have had a problem at the pit stop that we didn’t detect was going to happen.

“I think it’s very good that the fans have the opportunity to weigh in and we welcome all shortcomings and any constructive criticism. And a lot of times that leads to interesting events.”

Social media and the internet have also changed the way broadcasters like Mike Joy prepare for a race.

“Well, one good thing is I don’t have to open any press release envelopes anymore and read it and highlight and take notes and stuff like that,” he said, laughing. “Now everything comes via email or via teams posting their own announcements on social media.

“So the preparatory work is easier than ever before. On the other hand, many fans have access to that same information if it’s already posted on social media…there are some stories that fall apart on Tuesday, live and die in discussions on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and by Sunday may no longer be relevant. Maybe they are.”

A constant stream of information provides access to all kinds of pre-race news and keeps Joy busy.

“I can promise you that every day I’m on the computer working on social media, whether I’m traveling or not, and I’m looking at things that we either need to take a closer look at when we get to the racetrack or stories that we need to develop further,” he said. “I’m not the only one who does it. I think all of our commentators and our producer kind of have an ear for those kinds of stories as they develop. Then we get to the track and you have PR people writing stories… it’s all part of the collaborative process. But the great thing is that it’s easier than ever when I started this business.”

When he started the business, it was definitely a collaborative process. In those days, developing stories meant going to the song’s media center.

“You’d talk to some of the writers you knew, share story ideas and share advice,” Joy remembers fondly. “Tom Higgins of the Charlotte paper could yell to Steve Wade of the Roanoke paper and say, ‘Hey, did you talk to Cale (Yarborough) this week? Has anyone talked to Cale?’” adding with a laugh. “Some other writer would jump in, ‘Yeah. I talked to him and he told me, blah, blah, blah’. And that’s how stories developed back then, mostly by word of mouth. It’s just not like that anymore.”

Since the beginning of the 21stSt Over the centuries, NASCAR’s popularity has grown quite a bit. And with that growth comes a big change in the media and the way stories are developed.

“You used to be wandering through the garage and someone would invite you to climb on the back of a tractor-trailer to eat a ballet sandwich at lunch,” Joy said. “You’d have 15, 20 minutes with the driver, the crew chief and the car owner just shooting and talking about stuff.

“Those opportunities simply don’t exist anymore. The driver’s time is limited due to other obligations due to exposure to the media and fans who are in the garage area. There are just a lot more demands on their time. Media availability is more structured.”

Continuation in part 2: What the future holds for Mike Joy’s Auto Guy

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