Bloomberg Radio’s Masters in Business, 4th Anniversary

Four years ago this week, the first Masters in Business podcast broadcast.

It is hard for me to grok what this has become. The original concept was similar to what I had in mind at the start of the Big Picture: as a news and media junkie, I wanted the financial press to be better — whether it was data analysis or context or longer term thinking, or just having less noise and more signal – I wanted the blog to present information differently than the standard MSM operating procedure.

Financial media (how can I say this politely?) presented an opportunity for improvement.

Over the years, I have kvetched (see e.g., thisthis and this) about its shortcomings. The blog reflected that with print journalism; the podcast was an opportunity to do the same with electronic media.

My favorite complaints were all there: the stock picking approach was terrible; interviews were focused on all the wrong things; and the endless forecasting — When is the Fed going to tighten? Where is the Dow going to be in an year? What’s your favorite stock — ALL OF IT was just so much missed opportunity.

Rather than just kvetch (as I so often do in these pages), I wanted to do something about it. Why not have an adult conversation with accomplished, intelligent people? Can’t we ask better questions than those 3 above? Can’t we find out who these people really are? How did they got to be so accomplished and successful? Find out who/what influences them? What do they read?

Most importantly of all, What can they teach the rest of us? 

Embracing that approach was key when MIB launched 4 years ago. Speak with accomplished people from all walks of life, find people who can make us smarter, better, more enlightened, regardless of what your day job is. The emphasis was initially on investment, business, and finance, but the range of sources has expanded naturally.

When I re-read the preview announcement from 4 years ago — Coming July 12, 2014  — one thing that is clear is that original mission is still the driving force.

The biggest change is that I have learned to get suck less at doing these over 4 years through sheer repetition. Check out any one from the first year – it is unlistenable.

It has been a fantastic ride, and as I so often say, it is the most fun I have all week.

Bloomberg LP was very supportive of the idea. They recognized it was working, dedicated more resources to MIB, including a dedicated producer/booker/audio engineer. Other podcasts at Bloomberg (and elsewhere) soon followed. The company’s embrace of podcasting has been very encouraging. So too has Mike Bloomberg’s — he has said some very nice things about the show: “I listen cause nothing else is on over the weekends.” But in all seriousness, he has given good counsel and made some smart observations about MIB, and has been a big supporter of these interviews. I could not possibly be more appreciative (who could ask for more support than that?)

Blogs are mostly a solo operation, with the writer doing most of the creating – I start early each morning in my office when it is quite and still dark out. Unlike the blog, the podcast is a collaboration, filled with the talents of many wonderful people make it happen each week.*

Pushback to the mainstream financial news was a prime motivating force in both instances. I hope that in some small way, the influence of the blog has been to make some folks in the financial press a little smarter about how they cover finance and business. And I hope that the podcast has the same effect: making electronic media better at informing and educating the investing public.

Thanks for listening.

 

 

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* Michael Batnick is a driving force behind much of the deep dive research; if you really like a question, the odds are he is behind it; Al Mayer, then head of radio at Bloomberg, personally taught me, week by week, how to become better (or at least how to suck less) — to listen to answers, follow up and push the conversation. (“When a guest on air tells you he murdered his wife, don’t just skip to your next question.“). Anthony Mancini, current head of radio, has been an enthusiastic supporter, and has encouraged more creative interviews, including our occasional road trip. Charlie Vollmer was my first audio engineer, and taught me many radio skills I was oh so obviously lacking. He also taught me some technical skills that allowed me to take MiB on the road. David Shipley and Tim O’Brian of Bloomberg Opinion have been steadfast supporters of the show – it is Bloomberg Opinion product. Taylor Riggs coordinates everything in ways I could never manage as booker/producer. Madena Parwana is my audio engineer/producer, who not only keeps me on time, but makes the show sound so much better! If you enjoy listening they

 

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