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Squawk Box Guest Host post-mortem
Posted By Barry Ritholtz On August 29, 2004 @ 6:57 am In Media | Comments Disabled
I usually scribble a few words after an interesting TV appearance — only I was so exhausted Wednesday, I couldn’t get to it. Here’s my belated post mortem:
My problems started the night before. I fell asleep at 10:45 pm, only to wake up at 11:15. I was simply too keyed up to get any sleep. Tossed and turned for hours. Finally, at 3:00 am, I went downstairs to watch a recently TiVo-ed Insomniac with Dave Atell (Tokyo). The show is amusing when you are awake, and somnolent when you are tired. I started it 3 times, fell asleep each time, and ended up with a grand total of 2 hours shut eye for the night.
CNBC sends a car for guests, and I noticed it sitting outside at 5:15am. We left at 5:37, and were at the studios in NJ 35 minutes later.
Working on so little sleep, I was running on caffeine, adrenaline and fumes for the full 3 hours of the show.
It started off pretty quietly — except for my embarrassing throat clearing kkrrhhhhaaarggggccchh just as Joe Kernan introduced the show. I typically only get nervous for the first few minutes or so — nervous energy, hyped-up dry-mouth, tight-throat type of stuff. Once I start yapping it fades away, but until then . . . A dozen people asked me about “The Cough,” and I had absolutely zero idea it even happened. On TiVo, you can see Joe Kernan stop and whip his head to look my way.
A rather inauspicious way to begin. (at least it wasn’t a Nobel prize  moment)
For future reference, someone on the show (anyone!) might want to tell the guest about the magic button. Theres a square, red kill switch on the desk which mutes your microphone. Had I known about this little gizmo, perhaps the audience might have spared the charming symphony of my kkrrhhhhaaarggggccchh phlegm.
After the first 10 minute segment, one of the crew announces we’re clear — off the air — and the promo for “The Big Idea with Donny Deustche” pops up: Tonite, Jenna Jameson, on her new book How to make love like a porn star.”
Genius that I am, I blurt out: I have to TiVo THAT. Everyone kinda laughs, and Kernan and I discuss Jenna and a few of her peer group. I’ll spare you the details, but it was very amusing — I manage to crack up the crew — and it immediately loosens me up.
Not the first time in my career that I can be accused of “playing to the band.”
A bit later, were back live on air. Dylan Ratigan and Joe Kernan are back and forth, talking digital cameras — Joe is apparently a technophobe, and talks about how he doesn’t even have a printer. I was born in Brooklyn, and it rears its head every now and again, especially when I am exhausted. I say “Printa” — which Kernan immediately hears and (good-naturedly) mocks — Printa — on the air.
During the next break, Joe Kernan announces: “This is what I love about this job.” Joe says he got an email from Dell — every purchase of a new Dell PC comes free printer that you can plug the camera directly, into even with the PC can be off.
Here’s the really cool part: The email is not just from Dell, its actually from MICHAEL DELL, who was watching the show. The guy is always selling, and thats one of the reasons DELL the company is such a smashing success.
Before the market opens, we do a segment with former Dallas Cowboy coach Jimmy Johnson. I get a few question in (Coach, given how the talent is spread so evenly around the NFL, what team do you think would be the most fun and exiting for you to coach?) which Johnson politely ducks, talking about structural changes in the NFL instead.
Dylan Ratigan tag teams with me, follows up on my question, and actually gets Johnson to say the Jacksonville Jaguars is a really interesting team. So if you kids down there are looking for a new head honcho, JJ is available, give him a shout. (Ratigan and I get do the same later with Homeland Security Secy Tom Ridge).
Before the Durable Goods number comes out at 8:30am, WSJ/CNBC reporter Steve Liesman does a long segment with me about the markets, employment and politics. We talk job creation, Payroll vs Household Surveys, the impact of the markets on politics. A quick break — then the Durable Goods number comes out, we do a few more minutes, and the segment ends.
During commercial, I tell Steve that some of his recent guests have been blowing smoke and bad data his way — we talk about the surveys, and I drop the bombshell — Did you know that of the 629,000 job number in the last Household Survey, a full 92% were only part-time gigs? He finds this hard to believe, I tell him to check out BLS. We shake hands, and off he goes.
Later, I get to ask Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge a question live on air (on the Chemical industry vulnerability). Ridge has a thankless job, and is one of the overlooked good guys in the administration. You can understand why he is retiring.
On the last segment I get 30 seconds to talk about Volume — If it doesn’t show up soon, we an expect to revisit the recent lows, blah, blah, blah.
The show ends at 10:00 a.m., I thank everyone — handshakes all around — and the producer walk me off the Squawk Box set. As we head into the main office (that huge cube farm you see in the background sometimes), Steve Liesman runs up to us. He’s been all over the BLS site, he cannot confirm my position, want’s to know where’s my data from.
I say BLS — If you have a screen for me, I can show you. “Lets go.” Long story short, after hunting all over BLS, Steve gets the Chief Economist of BLS on the phone (I wish I had that power!). He puts us on with a very senior quant geek, and it turns out I’m right. (I’ll have an upcoming analysis of this soon).
Steve’s a terrific guy, we chat a bit, and then he’s off in the next day or so to Colorado to harass Chairman Greenspan.
All in all, it was a very cool experience, and I’m looking forward to doing it again, when Mark Haines returns from vacay. Also, a little sleep under my belt before guest hosting might be a good idea . . .
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