On Monday, CNBC’s Closing Bell originated from its Post 9 set at the New York Stock Exchange for the first time since March 19, 2020. Co-anchors Wilfred Frost and Sara Eisen were thrilled to be back on familiar stomping grounds. We caught up with the CNBC duo after their show, and here’s what they told us about their return to on-site broadcasting.
*This Q&A has been lightly edited for clarity purposes.
TVNewser: How was broadcasting from the NYSE today? It has been a long time.
Frost: It certainly has been. It’s great to be back, frankly. The same way that I didn’t like doing it from home, and it was great to go back to Englewood Cliffs initially, it’s an extra step now as well to get back where I feel like we belong.
Eisen: It was amazing to be back and I never could have guessed we would be gone this long. We had been talking about Covid on CNBC early, as it first emerged in China, and I had been pessimistic about it spreading in the U.S. But I couldn’t have imagined this sort of impact. Returning was a bit emotional, which surprised me. Little things you take for granted, like saying hello to everyone when I walk in, the security guards, the traders, my colleagues in tech operations and on air, it all felt more significant and so healthy.
Were you at all nervous going into the Stock Exchange this morning?
Eisen: No, I’ve been anchoring the show in studio off-and-on for months now and have been excited to be back. Obviously, like all of us, it’s been an adjustment to try to return to normal, but I know the NYSE and CNBC have been preparing for months. Plus, I’ve been vaccinated, which gives me a major sense of relief and comfort about going back to work inside with people.
Frost: Not nervous at all. I don’t think I’ve been someone in the camp of being overly concerned during the whole of the last year, but the main reason being is one isn’t concerned when you know the right precautions are being taken. CNBC has been just outstanding throughout, both when we started going back into Englewood Cliffs, and I knew all of the right steps would have been taken before we came back here.
Talk about broadcasting on site now versus before the pandemic? What changes are you having to make in the studio?
Frost: Sara and I started being back together in person in Englewood Cliffs a few weeks ago, anyway, and that was a really noticeable, great shift because you remove that little delay, which I think is most noticeable compared to the previous interaction you’d have, which is so often in the show with your co-anchor. And you experience it also, obviously, with interviews, but I think it’s less relevant in a sort of typical question then answer, question that answer type stage. So already, it was great to be back in the same place with Sara, and obviously additionally, now to be back in the set, which I think is our is always going to be our long-term home.
I would say as well, I think they’ve only back up to 40%, or 50% in terms of traders, but I felt the buzz of being back in here either way. I felt it really at the close. I’ve got a little over-excited as the noise builds. And we did the close today, which happened to be a big sell off day. So there was lots of fun anyway, all of all of that was great. And I think you know, as I said, it’s great to be back with Sara in person I look forward to whenever the time is right, to be back in person with our interviewees and guests as well.
Eisen: So much of our show was always about on-set interaction: me and Wilfred next to each other, [CNBC senior markets commentator] Mike Santoli joining us often, guests sitting alongside us. We have none of that for the time-being as Wilfred and I are socially distanced and we have yet to have guests on set. Live TV has to be a little more structured when everyone is in different remote locations. Even so, being at the Exchange is special and I look forward to IPOs and other market events we’ll be on-site for.
Anchoring from home for all these months, are there any habits that you picked up or general learnings that you’re going to bring back with you into the studio?
Frost: I didn’t really enjoy doing it from home. I think it’s remarkable that we were able to—and again the way CNBC pivoted and made the necessary adjustments to allow us to all broadcast from home—It just shows the digital revolution that we’ve all been witnessing in recent years. That was truly remarkable. But personally, I miss that in-person aspect of live television, with your co-anchor, and obviously the quality that the studio brings with multiple angles and all the other equipment. I missed not being around people, in terms of prepping for the show — whether that’s traders you can speak to the build-up, or colleagues in Englewood Cliffs, it makes a world of difference. I love the way tech has enabled us to have more flexibility, but personally, my view is I like being back in and around people.
Eisen: Well, I learned that I can do my own hair! Actually, I’ve come to appreciate our hair and makeup team and a professional production operation more than ever. What may be a bigger change for me is work when I’m off-air. I spend a lot of time meeting with executives and sources and have been able to keep that up over the phone and on Zoom meetings.
Sara, you spent a number of years anchoring mornings (both early and mid), and now you focus exclusively on afternoons. How has your daily routine changed, and how do you prepare for two hours of Closing Bell each day?
In general, my routine doesn’t change much. Whichever show I’ve anchored, I spent most of my day working on guest bookings and preparing for the show. I don’t have to set my alarm as early! The biggest change to my routine is having two sons, 3 and 1, at home, who are amazing, but not very supportive of me getting work done. Overall I think it’s healthier for them and for me to be out of the house and going back to work.