Every once in awhile an on-air team comes along that is a network’s and viewer’s dream. They complement one another. Each person on the team understands his or her role. There is an air of mutual respect but not stiffness. Candor, and humor, comes through. Because everyone on the team trusts one another and probably even likes one another and so each person can be themselves.

TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” which was originally just Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith, was like that. And remains so, even with the addition of Shaq. So, too, currently is CNBC’s “Squawk On The Street.” The show airs weekday mornings from 9 to 10 a.m. Hosted by Carl Quintanilla, it also features Jim Cramer as the outrageous clown and David Faber as the more reserved, responsible straight man—who is often able to get off a few good comebacks. Costello had Abbott; Hope had Crosby; Lewis had Martin; and Cramer has Faber.

Quintanilla, as host, is seamless. He keeps the vehicle from swerving outside of its lane or into oncoming traffic. He sets up his two experts time and time again, either by knowing when they’ve exhausted a given subject and moving them on to the next topic or by mentioning a story from Barron’s or the Wall Street Journal that either can sink his teeth into. Carl never gives his own opinion because he recognizes that that’s what Cramer and Faber are there for. He’s not insecure about it, that he needs to sound intelligent to have them (or us) respect him. Carl’s the Ernie Johnson of financial TV.

Cramer brings name recognition and bodacious behavior. He’s the Chuck of this crew. He also has the bona fides. With two degrees from Harvard, neither in business or finance, Cramer nevertheless was insanely successful as a fund manager in his thirties and forties. He’s also a former print journalist and is a prolific writer. He likes to play the clown, but he really does do his homework and does know his stuff.

Faber is the serious student given to the subtle verbal jab. He’s also very telegenic for, again, an erstwhile print guy. Unlike Cramer, he never gives an opinion without having sourced it thoroughly. Cramer shoots from the hip; Faber takes an X-ray of the hip, undergoes a 30-day waiting period for said firearm, goes to a shooting range, and then fires.

This is a highly functional trio. There are other “stars” on CNBC: Andrew Ross Sorkin from 6 – 9 a.m. who, unfortunately for him, shares a set with Joe Kernen. And Downtown Josh Brown, a hedge fund manager who often appears on CNBC’s noon and 5 p.m. shows, would be the guy you’d most want to have a beer with. I also like Guy Adami and Tim Seymour, both on at 5 p.m., very much. And as for the women folk, let’s give shout-outs to the L.A. gals, Jane Wells and Julia Boorstein (in New York, I think Morgan Brennan has some serious chops but none of these three have a regular daily desk spot on the network).

If you want to dip your feet into financial television, turn on CNBC at 9 a.m. weekdays. You’ll learn a little something while also being entertained by the banter (and, yes, Cramer eats his words far too often which is not to say he’s wrong but rather that he does not enunciate properly; it wouldn’t hurt to improve upon that). It’s “Inside the NBA” for fans of lower case bulls.

One thought on “TV’S TOP TRIO

  1. This was great! I’d never thought of Carl as Ernie & Cramer as Chuck but that’s a perfect analogy! Alas, I rarely get to see Squawk on the Street but I enjoy when I do. I 1st saw & liked Carl as the host of the earlier-in-the-day Squawk Box & have often wondered if Carl moved over to join Cramer & Faber because he just couldn’t take Kernen anymore or because he wanted to “sleep in”.

    Even though I wrote something here some weeks back fairly critical of Cramer, I do mostly enjoy watching him. In fact, I did watch his evening show every weeknight for more than 4-5 years. However, I did learn that with his fast pace/gotta grab the TV audience by saying something outrageous schtick that his “analysis” of whether a stock is a good long term investment is NOT always something to ‘take to the bank’.

    I also like Guy & Tim but rarely get to watch Fast Money. Back in late 2008 & at least thru 2009, a repeat of Fast Money was on late at night & that’s when I was able to watch every weeknight. Unfortunately, CNBC stopped that. Of course, the various market guys/gals particular take is how to make FAST money, while my interest is more “slooooooow money”, but I did still learn a lot from that show.

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