Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Financial Journalist Louis Rukeyser Dies

Louis RukeyserLouis Rukeyser, formerly the host of the long-running weekly PBS television series Wall Street Week, died Tuesday at the age of 73. Known to millions of stock market investors as the silver-haired wise man of the Street, Rukeyser's television show was as inviting to the amateur investor as it was to the savvy professional. Never able to fully suppress his trademark wry grin, Mr. Rukeyser consistently displayed rare wit he as rattled off groaner puns while covering the news about everything from the macroeconomy to the details of a potential investment. His showed featured a regular panel of commentators that included respected technical and fundamental market analysts, and each week he would interview a notable figure from the ranks of corporate executives, mutual fund managers, economists, and others involved in the world of finance. Even though he was a businessperson's journalist, he was not above taking jabs at both Democrat and Republican politicians. His humor was a blessing during rough times for investors: after one serious market correction, he dead-panned that he was thinking of changing the name of his weekly television show from Wall Street Week to Wall Street Wake. His sauve good looks of a well-heeled corporate CEO earned him the honor of being the only financial journalist ever to be named one of People magazine's Sexiest Men, an accomplishment for which he seemed at the time almost as embarrassed as proud.

Before hosting his famous Public Broadcasting TV show, Mr. Rukeyser served as a reporter first for the Baltimore Sun and later for ABC News. His stint as the host of Wall Street Week began in 1970 and would last until 2002, when the producer of the show, Maryland Public Broadcasting, wanted to set him aside in favor of younger talent. Rukeyser's on-air criticism of the producer ended the decades-long relationship, with Maryland Public Broadcasting claiming that it had "fired" him and Rukeyser responding that he had never been an employee. After he departed Wall Street Week, he launched a similar program on CNBC; but as he began to succumb to the ravages of a rare form of cancer called multiple myeloma, he asked the producer to cancel the series, which it did in 2005.

Louis Rukeyser will be remembered as a man who made finance and economics inviting to millions of people. Despite his light-hearted approach to covering the world of investing, financial analysis, and economics, he was able to draw serious investment advice from both his panelists and his guests. Regular viewers learned greatly both about the tools of the trade and about how to use economics and financial information.

In the disciplines of economics and finance, perceived by many as being the domain of all things boring and all people even more so, Louis Rukeyser stood tall as one who could make the dull become interesting and the arcane applicable.

The Dark Wraith stands down for a moment of respectful silence.

This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.

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