SBJ/Sept. 25-Oct. 1, 2017/People and Pop Culture

Plugged In: Amanda Busick, NHRA

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It’s the rare on-air talent that also doubles as a de facto producer behind the scenes, but that’s life for NHRA pit reporter Amanda Busick. The North Carolina native is part of a small broadcast team that is employed by the drag racing series and whose coverage appears on Fox channels. Busick — whose former stops include CampusInsiders as a reporter and ESPN as a stage manager — opens up about juggling duties in front of, and behind, the camera.


We’re lean and mean — we pull off things that you would think we have probably three times the workforce.




Photo by: NHRA
Working as a producer and on-air host:
I used to go on auditions and it would always be, “Do you want to be a producer or do you want to be a talent?” And it was always pick one, and I could never understand that because I feel like my work on camera can only breathe and represent itself from the work you do on the research and development side. It’s definitely not similar to my past roles; there’s a difference in gathering information for game day to this role where it’s more a newsroom role. What other organization could I dip in and pitch content ideas to our sales team or directly engage with our sponsorship team? That’s where it extends beyond just being in the broadcast department.

Working with the small NHRA content team: We’re lean and mean — we pull off things that you would think we have probably three times the workforce. It’s around 10 people (on the internal team), including the editing and shooting. For the shows, we probably have 65 to 80 people working. We’re working February to November, so these people are your family; you spend more time with them than you do your own family, so it becomes a lifestyle and you’re ingrained with wanting to build the profiles of these drivers. In college sports, you have to go through so many processes to get an interview with a player or coach. The idea that we can just kind of show up to some driver’s pit and they’re so welcoming — it’s just refreshing and it becomes you.

On working in tandem with Fox Sports: They believe in us. I think they’ve been just as open with us as we’ve been with them. On the programming side, [NHRA broadcast executive Ken Adelson] is constantly working with them and they’ve been brilliant with the opportunities they’ve allowed us. Having better time slots — the audience has always been there; now we just can find them. … We had three Fox Sports guys at our sponsorship summit we did in Sonoma speaking to the health of the sport on their side and what they’re seeing with numbers and how the NHRA is growing. To have a TV partner that is working so closely with the health and success of the NHRA, I think that’s a big testament to what we’re doing on all sides.

On experimenting with different content ideas, like the “Walk 1,000 Feet” feature she created this year to showcase drivers: The 2018 season starts in five months and I like to use the phrase “failing forward,” so when you try things and you push yourself and it fails, just always move forward with it. It’s a good learning tool and we’re all striving for bigger and better things. It takes that to make it happen. “Walk 1,000 Feet” was rooted in, “How do we show our drivers with their helmets off in a fun and engaging way?” I was really big on calling it “Walk 1,000 Feet” based on our measurement (of the standard drag strip) being 1,000 feet.

                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                            — Adam Stern


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