FBN’s “The Willis Report” anchored by Gerri Willis celebrates its 100th episode today at 5pmET. TVNewser hears it’s one of the best performing shows on the network, and she is FBN’s top female anchor. This morning TVNewser got a chance to speak with Willis about her transition from CNN to FBN.
TVNewser: You moved from CNN to FBN in March. How has the transition been?
Gerri Willis: It’s been so much fun starting up this show. We’re having a ball. We just have so much freedom to do what we want to do, and I feel like this has been just a gift. The way I’m interpreting consumer news now includes you as a taxpayer too. We’re also really looking into what Washington is doing as they spend your tax dollars and run up record deficits and debt. We have a segment at the back of the show that is a round table where we discuss some of the fun stories of the day. It’s not all doom and gloom. There’s a lot of lighthearted fun. And then there’s a lot of tactical, ‘how do you fix this financial problem? How do you overcome this hurdle?’ We try to give a lot of “How to” in the show as well. I am just bringing our viewers information in a way that’s easily consumable.
TVNewser: When you were hired, Roger Ailes said, “Most of the CNN talent have been restrained from showing what they can do. We’re looking forward to providing Gerri with a platform at Fox Business to showcase her financial acumen and television expertise.” Have you been able to do that on FBN?
Gerri Willis: It’s been a great opportunity. And believe me, here they really come through on what they promise. I’ve been given so much freedom to build this show. We’re really looking after people’s wallets. We’re a watchdog. We’ve been covering this foreclosure fiasco. We’ve been interviewing key people in the story. We have them on every day. We’re taking the banks to task; we’ve also taken Washington to task with what they’re doing with our taxpayer dollars. So everybody’s fair game here. We’re the advocate for the consumer, and I couldn’t be happier. I am thrilled to being doing this. Roger Ailes has been wonderful to me and to the show. He’s been very generous. I can’t say enough good things. Frankly, it’s that simple.
TVNewser: What does FBN’s new tagline “The Power to Prosper” mean to you?
Gerri Willis: I think we give people the tools, whether you’re a small business operator or an investor, to make your own wealth, to open up your own life, to provide for you. That’s what we’re looking to do here. We try to do that every day on the show, not just on a tactical investing level, but also in terms of providing you the information you need to know as a consumer, as a tax payer. The cool thing we’ve done is this segment of the show that we call “Back of the Envelope.” This is a segment that we’ve done that breaks down some of the more complicated concepts. It’s a segment that I’m heavily invested in where we describe a problem at length in front of a big screen, and we show as well as tell. So we show you the numbers with charts and graphs, and illustrate what I’m talking about. So you can get it two ways instead of just one. We’re throwing everything at the wall to hope that people really get it.
TVNewser: I see that you were on Twitter to announce the launch of the show, then you disappeared from the twittersphere (like so many others). Why is that?
Gerri Willis: We’re getting back to that in the coming weeks. We have a plan that we’re going to roll out. Frankly, as the show started, I’ve really focused on the show itself, making sure that we were doing what I felt like we needed to do. I think the payoff is there. The emails I get, the people that come up to me in the grocery store, I think people are really getting into it. I think we’ve been able to get people over from CNN to FBN for the show. It’s really gratifying to see.
TVNewser: With the recent firings or resignations of Rick Sanchez and Helen Thomas for saying things their bosses deemed inappropriate, do you think there is a hypersensitivity to personal opinions given publicly by news reporters, analyst and producers, and do you worry it could happen to you?
Gerri Willis: No, I don’t. I feel very confident in the show day-to-day: the help and assistance and clarity that we’re giving people. I feel like I know what I want to accomplish, and FOX has certainly given me a lot of backup, confidence, and a real push to make this happen. So I’m not afraid, no. At the end of the day, what I try to do every day is help viewers understand where their money is going, and help them dissect how it could be better and move ahead. It’s not necessarily about opinion here. We’re really talking about your money and your dollars. At the end of the day, Fox just hires smart people. I have a lot of confidence in what we’re doing. The team I have is just fantastic. We’re having so much fun.