The Cable Show, the trade show for the National Cable Television Association, is underway this week in Chicago. And last night at the gala event of the week, the Cable Hall of Fame, CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo became the first female journalist inducted into the Hall. (CNN’s Bernard Shaw and trade publisher Paul Maxwell are also members.)
We talked with the Money Honey this morning between panels she’s moderating at the trade show. She’ll also be anchoring “Closing Bell” from Wrigley Field this afternoon, because tonight the Brooklyn native and Yankees fan is throwing out the first pitch as the Cubs take on the Milwaukee Brewers. “I’ve been going to Central Park to practice,” Bartiromo tells TVNewser. “It’s 60 feet! I just want to get it over the plate.”
TVNewser: Congratulations. I know it’s a busy day for you. What an honor. The Hall of Fame is mostly made up of cable innovators and executives. How did a journalist get on that list?
Maria Bartiromo: Thanks Chris. They tell me I’m the first female journalist on the list and I’m in awe of that. When they asked me to join this illustrious group that includes John Malone, Ted Turner, and Jeff Bewkes, I started to think about my career. Where has the time gone? I started my career as an intern at CNN covering live events, producing under Lou Dobbs. That was 20 years ago and now it’s been 19 years at CNBC covering the financial ups and downs. I feel incredibly proud — proud to be part of this industry.
TVNewser: Who are some of the people behind your success?
Maria Bartiromo: For sure it’s been [former NBCU CEO] Bob Wright, [FNC & FBN chairman & CEO] Roger Ailes, [CNBC President] Mark Hoffman; [former GE chairman & CEO] Jack Welch has been an amazing mentor to me. The producers and writers. Lulu Chiang is my right arm. But I have to look back to the beginning, Roger Ailes who put me on the air and Bob and Suzanne Wright for always supporting me.
TVNewser: A lot of the talk this week at The Cable Show is about the long term viability of cable, with platforms like Netflix and new devices like the iPad taking eyeballs away from cable, which has had a virtual monopoly on subscription-based viewing for decades. What’s the future hold for you and your network?
Maria Bartiromo: I think from a content standpoint it’s really a positive. It’s another screen, another device, another vehicle. That’s what my general session is about this morning. I’m speaking with [Robert Marcus of ] Time Warner Cable and [David Haslingden] the head of FOX Networks. It really is a sea change. The economic model that we know has been turned upside sown. But viewership on the iPad is not measurable the way it is on cable. Netflix is creating an opportunity and I think some see Netflix as an interloper and some see it as an opportunity for more distribution
TVNewser: What’s CNBC been like without Mark Haines?
Maria Bartiromo: It’s been a very sad time. I worked with him for 10 years on “Squawk.” Most of us grew up with Mark. One of the greatest things about Mark is he worked for the viewer. He will be missed. He has left an incredible legacy on the cable industry and CNBC. I miss him.
TVNewser: So what’s more exciting: being inducted into the cable Hall of Fame or throwing out the first pitch before a Cubs game at Wrigley field?
Maria Bartiromo: That’s a really good question. I guess being inducted into the Cable Hall of Fame. I was so proud to be working at CNN 20 years ago. But Lou Dobbs wanted to restructure the newsroom and I was on the assignment desk, so Lou promoted me to senior producer for the morning shows and I was upset, because it would put me on the overnights again, and take me out of the field. So after all my crying — I used to cry on the 22nd floor of CNN — I went back and put together my reel. Re-shooting the stories I’d produced. And I sent it to CNBC and Peter Sturtevant and Roger Ailes said “we want to put you on the air.” I went to Lou and I said, “Lou, I’m leaving.” And he said, “Maria, you’re making the biggest mistake of your life.” And, as I said last night at the gala, “Tonight proves a different story.”
TVNewser: Lou is there in Chicago for Fox Business. Have you told him that story… or have you seen him?
Maria Bartiromo: I haven’t spoken to Lou in a long time, but if I see him I’ll give him a big hug.
(Interview has been edited and condensed)