Monday, October 20, 1997

Maria Bartiromo

Harris: If you flip around the channels, you may have stopped on CNBC, the business channel. And the reason you may have stopped is our next guest, Maria Bartiromo, who has been at CNBC for a couple of years, but is probably best known for being the first reporter to be live on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange while trading was going on during the day. And she has done so well for herself, she's so hot, that CNBC has given her her own show. It's on at 7:00 every weeknight, it's called Business Center and it just debuted last week. Here is Maria Bartiromo.

Bartiromo: Hi, thanks for having me!

Harris: So, what was it like being the first one on the floor of the Exchange? Were they beating you up a lot in your first week?

Bartiromo: A little. It was really interesting because you had something new to all involved. I mean, here I am, the first person to come down trying to be the person in the middle of all these men and women running around all over the place trying to get their trades done in a hurry. And there are these people who are watching not only a reporter, but a woman, come into their territory out of nowhere. I mean, in some cases they probably thought I was crazy because it appeared I was talking to myself because the camera was so far away from me, because it is up on a ledge, and they had no idea when I was live and when I wasn't live.

Harris: It must be weird for them because, to them, you are just some person staring up into space and talking out loud.

Bartiromo: That's right. So it took a little time for both sides to get used to, but now everyone down there is very respectful and they know what I'm doing and I try and keep out of their way and they try and keep out of my way.

Harris: Is it extremely stressful? Because the other day I was watching this show and it wasn't about business, it was about stress, and you were on it. They showed you doing your makeup on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and they showed all these different flashes of stress. Is it very stressful down there?

Bartiromo: Yes, it is very stressful, just because you have activity and news happening as I speak. So in many cases none of the stuff I come out with is scripted. Often, a story will break or there will be a very large crowd of people standing around one of the posts down on the floor, and it's obvious that somebody knows something because there is all this buying interest in one stock down on the floor. It's sort of finding out what is happening and going with it as it's happening. In many cases, it's sort of breaking news and you just go with it, so it is a little stressful.

Harris: But, it's also a mosh pit, and are there still guys that elbow you as they go by? Have you had to elbow them or kick them as they go by?

Bartiromo: Oh, yes! I'm just kidding. But certainly when someone does bump into me, well, I'll bump back.

Harris: Good for you!. The other thing you are known for, Maria, is being one of the best dressed women on TV.

Bartiromo: Oh, thank you.

Harris: I don't know how you got your company to give you one heck of a wardrobe budget, or did that all come out of your closet?

Bartiromo: Much of it is the Bartiromo closet but there is one company that does provide me with suits -- and that's Kennar -- but often, I really have my own tastes and do often go on shopping sprees myself.

Harris: In fact, I hear it is working so much that comedian Richard Lewis hit on you by phone long distance, didn't he?

Bartiromo: He did! Actually I was doing the nighttime updates, the news updates which is not business at all. They had just asked me to pinch hit for someone else.

Harris: Is that the two minute thing during Geraldo?

Bartiromo: Yes, so I get this phone call from this guy named Richard Lewis, truthfully I didn't really know who he was because the name just did not ring a bell at first. So, I said, I don't really know who you are. And he said what, are you crazy, are you kidding? And I said no. So he sent me an 8 x 10 photo of himself. He wrote on it, "Dear Maria, stop stalking me or I'll get my family after you. -- RL" He then sent me these tapes of him and we've really developed a rapport since then. He is definitely a really funny guy and he has really started watching the stock market action after that.

Harris: So, did you date Richard Lewis?

Bartiromo: No, no. He just came by the office and I just kind of showed him around.

Harris: That's not what he came to see, Maria.

Bartiromo: Well, he did come by one afternoon when he was in New York and I showed him around the office.

Harris: "Oh, this is Joe Kernan's desk! Oh, that's very interesting. Thank you very much!"

Bartiromo: [laughs]

Harris: All right, Maria, I have worked up a little quiz for you this afternoon, and I know you have to run because you do Business Center at 7, so let's do this quiz, okay?

Bartiromo: Oh, gosh, okay.

Harris: Here we go. Classic rocker whose money you would like to have one month's interest from: Paul McCartney or Mick Jagger?

Bartiromo: Paul McCartney.

Harris: More powerful woman: Hillary Clinton or Andrea Mitchell?

Bartiromo: Andrea Mitchell, definitely.

Harris: You know, every day I live in fear that Andrea Mitchell will do something that will annoy her husband, Alan Greenspan of the Federal Reserve.

Bartiromo: I hope she's keeping him happy.

Harris: She better be keeping him happy day and night or else the whole world is going to collapse. All right, CBS stock -- that's our parent company -- buy, sell, or hold?

Bartiromo: I'm sorry, I can't comment. I just don't know.

Harris: Are you allowed to own stock?

Bartiromo: We are, but long term and very non-speculative. And given my position, I'm not supposed to make recommendations.

Harris: Have you made any bad investment choices yourself?

Bartiromo: No, it's really just long term, mutual funds and stuff so I can't really think of any big bombs. You know, the market's been so strong.

Harris: Okay. Sexier billionaire: Ted Turner or Bill Gates?

Bartiromo: Ooooh, I'd say Ted Turner.

Harris: You want to go for C, none of the above, right?

Bartiromo: [laughs]

Harris: Next, body piercing. We're going to do a Harris Poll on this later. Do you have any pierced body parts?

Bartiromo: Just my ears.

Harris: Body piercing in men: turn on or turn off?

Bartiromo: Turn off.

Harris: More fun: profit taking or bargain hunting?

Bartiromo: Bargain hunting.

Harris: More important: a guy's interest rate or his long bond?

Bartiromo: His interest rate.

Harris: And which is the worse NBC sitcom, Jenny or Suddenly Susan?

Bartiromo: That's not fair! NBC is my parent. I love them all.

Harris: Of course you do. All right. Business Center is on CNBC at 7. And Maria is live on the floor of the Exchange something like thirty times a day.

Bartiromo: Well, I've actually cut it down because of my new show but I am definitely there all day long.

Harris: I hear the ratings were good for your debut last week and good luck with the show. Thanks for coming on with us.

Bartiromo: Thanks for having me. Have a great day!

Copyright 1997, Paul Harris.
Transcript by Phil Egenthal.