Back when I was in my teens I discovered Wall $treet Week With Louis Rukeyser. I immediately loved it. Lou had a striking resemblance to the picture of George Washington in the $1 bills, was a lover of puns, each week had one guest (among them his wonderful dad, Merryle Rukeyser, and Larry Kudlow) that always had something interesting to say about finance and economics, and a nice group of loyal regulars to which he referred to as “the elves”.
After the first show, I watched that program faithfully every Friday evening of my adult life (first on PBS, then on CNBC) until Lou became too ill to continue. In my unmarried days I wouldn’t go out on a date until after Lou’s show was over, and one or two of the guys became Lou fans. I even married a Lou fan. Years later, Lou would have loved to see the photo taken on the day I gave birth where the new baby was watching Lou’s show. One of the baby’s first sentences was “Lou’s on!”
The single most unique characteristic of his program was that the format remained unchanged over the years (the set decor only changed a couple of times, I’d say, once per decade). You expected substance, not novelty.
Tim Ferguson is Remembering Rukeyser, and mentions that
While most of us in the press have a low tolerance for sameness, a belief that freshness sells, the fact is that most people need familiarity or consistency in their lives–even when it comes to imparting information about something as ever-dynamic as the markets.
Relatedly, Rukeyser’s basic and enduring optimism about equities and shareholder capitalism, tinged with smirking jabs at the grasping lameness of the typical broker, was a lodestar for his public through even the bad years. As long as you weren’t a “bond ghoul” or a “gold bug,” Lou had a fundamentally reassuring message. Luckily, perhaps, for him and his fans, things worked out that way over time.
I don’t think it was “luckily”; if Lou had been foolishly optimistic his audience would have moved on to something else — we know time is money. Lou’s skills as an interviewer were outstanding, to the point where he consistently, week after week, always got a good interview from each guest.
Lou had a great sense of humor, and according to this article,
After a market slump, he considered changing the name of the show to “Wall Street Wake.”
Because of Lou, I’ve managed my finances successfully. When I met Larry Kudlow at the Pajamas Media event in NYC, I asked him to thank Lou for me.
Larry posted yesterday in his blog,
it was Lou Rukeyser who spawned the Investor Class by bringing investment news and opinions every week to millions of people in a clear way that they could understand and act on.
He introduced the general public to numerous financial experts with diverse opinions, always presented with clarity and good humor.
Lou was brilliant man and a classy gent.
James Grant, another of Lou’s regulars, wrote the NYT obituary.
Twice a year in his show Lou had guests’ contributions, and I still remember the old couple that wrote a song that went,
I just want to be another Louis Rukeyser
(technorati tag Louis Rukeyser)