Baby, I’m back,’

The Associated Press
Saturday April 20, 2002

NEW YORK — A Wall Street TV showdown began Friday night as financial journalist Louis Rukeyser returned to the air. 

Less than a month after his unexpected exit as host of public television’s “Wall $treet Week,” he was back with a brand-new show, “Louis Rukeyser’s Wall Street,” on financial cable network CNBC. 

“Well, as I was saying when I was so rudely interrupted,” he began, wearing his avuncular smirk, “welcome back.” 

“How has Wall Street behaved in my brief, unintended three-week absence?” he continued. “The financial markets went on a three-week crying jag, ending only this week .... Purely a coincidence, I’m sure.” 

The 69-year-old Rukeyser is poised directly opposite “Wall $treet Week,” the program he created 32 years ago then quit last month rather than go along with producer Maryland Public Television’s plan to demote him and bring in younger hosts. 

The format for Rukeyser’s new show seemed almost identical to his old show — a leisurely and gentlemanly chatfest with market experts discussing financial affairs, conducted in what looked like a woody, leathery salon. 

Over on PBS at the same time, “Wall $treet Week” was hewing to somewhat the same format, but instead of Rukeyser, it was Ray Brady, formerly of CBS News, who filled in. 

Taped a couple of hours before airtime, Rukeyser’s new show originates from CNBC studios in Fort Lee, N.J., while “Wall $treet Week” continues from MPT headquarters in Owings Mills, Md. 

It was in March that MPT created a firestorm by announcing plans to modernize the show and naming Fortune magazine editor Geoffrey Colvin as host. That revamped version, to be unveiled in June, will be called “Wall $treet Week with Fortune.” 

Longtime fans of Rukeyser were aghast at the news, but immediately Rukeyser put himself on the market and, April 9, announced he would set up shop at CNBC, which is offering the program to PBS stations as well. 

Despite being a commercial network, CNBC is airing his show with underwriter support and no advertising interruptions — the same sort of arrangement public television enjoys. Shrewdly hedging its bets Friday, Oppenheimer Funds partially underwrote each rival show.