There's a dirty little secret about producing a television show like "TheStreet.com." If I've done my job right, I have very little or nothing to do when we actually tape the program. I know that divulging this doesn't exactly provide great job security, but it happens to be the truth. All my work is done in the days and hours leading up to the show. But in those 30 minutes when we're "on air," the writers from
are doing all the heavy lifting. Taping the show at 7 p.m. on Fridays doesn't make things any easier for them either.
We made a key decision in the planning stages of the show. To capture the right feel and tone of what's really happening on Wall Street, we had to tape
the bell on Friday. It's the best move we've made. How could we bring you a show that prepares you for Monday's opening bell if we don't even know how things wound up the prior week?
Now a dose of reality. All the folks you see each week on the program work for a living. (Except of course chartist
Gary B. Smith
. He boasts that he "trades for a living from home." In reality, Gary sleeps until 11 a.m., conjures up a couple charts and pulls the trigger on a few trades while lounging on a leather sofa in his terry cloth robe and slippers.) But while most everyone else is starting their weekend by 7 p.m. Friday, it's "lights, camera, action" for our writers. They have to be as sharp as they've been all week. It's our job on the show to make sure they are.
A producer is only as good as his or her staff. Mine is top-notch. It's also small. Besides me, there are our great host
, associate producer
, who will take over for me if I ever get a vacation, and production assistant
. Like any good PA, William is utterly indispensable. That's all we've got. But it's enough because they're so good. All the sharp writing, banners, street smarts and topics you see in the show come from this group. They do it all. That is, until 7 p.m. Friday when the spotlight is on our writers.
is constant motion, constant energy. Just being exposed to him energizes you. What's refreshing is that he genuinely cares about one thing: you the viewer, you the investor. Jim runs a hedge fund, and because of this we don't tell him any stocks that will be covered in the show until after Friday's closing bell. Our show has full disclosure and we go to great lengths to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest. By the time we roll tape for the show, Jim's into hour 16 of his day. He's already traded thousands of shares at his fund and probably written close to a dozen stories for
Web site. Yet if we have good stocks and topics to talk about on the show and we get him a Diet Coke, Jim's money in the bank. In the "business" we call Jim "great television."
Here's what makes Jim even better:
. The two complement each other. If you subscribe to our Web site, then Herb has probably saved you a ton of money with his daily "Herb on TheStreet" column. He's the watchdog on the site and on our show. Herb has two goals that I know of: protect you the investor and make me crazy. He achieves both spectacularly. Most weeks Herb assures me that "Stock Drill" will be a disaster. That the stocks our guest has picked "have no tension" and it will be a boring segment. Of course, each week Herb delivers great insight and interplay on each of those stocks. But there again is the value of Herb. The naysayer that he is challenges us to make the show better each week. Lately Herb has liked some of our ideas. Frankly, that makes me nervous.
Among the many fun parts of this job is coordinating the "Chartman" segment with Gary B. Smith and
. Every Friday night Gary B. makes his way to
Washington, D.C., bureau, goes into a phone booth and emerges as "Chartman." His kryptonite is the 12 p.m. Thursday deadline I give him each week to email me his charts for the program. Why Thursday? Well, Gary's charts are three-dimensional. They zoom in, zoom out, have cutesy comments on them -- heck, they practically do a little dance for you. All that production value takes a lot of time. Early in the week we discuss the segment for the upcoming program. Gary and Adam spar on those conference calls just like they do on the show. But here's why "Chartman" works so well: Gary and Adam like each other. They truly like each other. It also doesn't hurt that Adam is a superb reporter on the fundamentals of a company, but respects what Gary does as a technician.
The final "regular" on our show presents me with a dilemma every week. He's
, the editor-in-chief of
. So that means he's also my boss. That puts me in the position of telling my boss what to do. Telling him when he's good or when he's bad. Telling him how to improve. Even telling him how to dress. I know this sounds like fun, doesn't it? Well, it is. But here's Dave's revenge: He's ALWAYS late! We ask everyone to arrive about an hour before taping for make-up and for my peace of mind. People always ask me what I would do if someone didn't show up. I say not to worry because I have a plan. Truth be told, I have no plan. I need everyone to show up. I think Dave knows this and makes me sweat it out every Friday. While I'm waiting and worrying, Herb assures me that Dave is just going to forget about the taping and not show up. Thanks Herb. This week Dave strolled in about 20 minutes before the show, unpacked his brand new shirt, went on TV and said a bunch of smart things.
There are tons of logistical aspects to the show I could bore you with: research, rundowns, graphics, meetings and more meetings. It all gets me to 7 p.m. Friday. That's when we tape what we hope is the most useful and informative show about personal investing there is. It's also when, if I've done my job right, I have nothing to do.