Louis Rukeyser: 1933-2006
Longtime Wall Street Week Host
|Rukeyser hosted Wall Street Week for 32 years.(CNBC Photo)|
GREENWICH, CONN. – Louis Rukeyser, whose 32 years as host of the PBS series Wall Street Week pioneered the field of financial-advice television programming, died yesterday at his home in Greenwich, Connecticut. Rukeyser succumbed to complications of multiple myeloma, a rare cancer of the bone marrow. He was 73.
Rukeyser, a former newspaperman, began hosting Wall Street Week in 1970 and remained with PBS until 2002, when he left following a dispute with the network. He then moved to CNBC, where he hosted Louis Rukeyser’s Wall Street. His final show aired October 31, 2003, after which he was diagnosed with bone cancer.
Rukeyser acquired his interest in financial matters from his father, Merryle Stanley Rukeyser, who became financial editor of the New York Tribune at 23 and wrote a business column for the International Tribune News Service for more than thirty years.
Louis Richard Rukeyser was born Jan. 30, 1933, in New York City. He grew up in the nearby suburb New Rochelle, and through his father developed an affinity for newspaper work at an early age. He published a story in the New Rochelle Standard Star at age 11, and was contributing stories to various New York-area newspapers while still in high school. He attended Princeton University, where he served as president of the Press Club, after which he was hired by the Baltimore Evening Sun. He returned to the paper as chief political reporter after serving two years in the Army. Rukeyser went on to work for Sun bureaus in London and India.
Rukeyser began his television career in 1965, when he left the Sun to join ABC News, where he served as Paris correspondent and as chief of its London bureau. He returned to the United States in 1968 as the network’s chief economics correspondent.
In 1970, when Maryland Public Television was looking for a host to guide a show on economics and financial management, producer Ann Truax Darlington thought of Rukeyser. With ABC’s permission, he did Wall Street Week job as a sideline to his full-time duties. Two years later the show had become so successful and time consuming that he left ABC to devote all of energies to it.
Rukeyser’s engaging on-camera presence and knack for discussing economics and finance in accessible, jargon-free, easy-to-grasp language made him a favorite among viewers and, along with Alistair Cooke and Big Bird, one of public television’s early stars.
In 2001, PBS and Maryland Public Television began discussions with Rukeyser about revamping the show in an effort to draw a younger viewership. He resisted their overtures to reduce his role in the broadcast, and was scheduled to leave the program in June of 2002, when his contract was up. In March of 2002, he denounced the two organizations on the air and was dismissed two days later.
A month later he had moved to CNBC, and in defiance of PBS more than 150 public television stations began carrying his new show. PBS canceled Wall Street Week in June of 2005 in light of reduced ratings following Rukeyser’s departure.
In addition to his television career, Rukeyser continued to work as a journalist and author, and he enjoyed further success through financial newsletters, lectures and investment seminars.
Rukeyser is survived by his wife, British journalist Alexandra Gill, and three daughters.