For CNBC’s Becky Quick, Katie Kramer Is ‘The Producer I Can’t Live Without’

By A.J. Katz 

This is the fifth installment of a TVNewser feature named The Producer I Can’t Live Without, in which prominent TV newsers and their longtime producers talk about their successful partnerships.

“Katie and I are connected at the hip and at the brain, which is kind of the way you need to operate with someone,” Squawk Box co-host Becky Quick tells TVNewser. “She’s amazing.”

The “Katie” of which Quick speaks is Katie Kramer, the supervising producer of CNBC’s popular, long-running morning show Squawk Box. In addition to being Quick’s producer, Kramer is her partner in crime, her “safety net,” and sounding board when it comes to all things professional and even personal.


Quick and Kramer have one of the more demanding jobs on TV — coming up with compelling business news content and probing some of the world’s most high-profile figures in business, politics and sometimes pop culture over three hours each morning. And they’re talking to a highly-educated and discerning audience. The duo have been successful together for nearly a decade and don’t appear to be stopping anytime soon.

It’s rare for an on-air talent to work closely with the same producer for so many years and we thought it would be interesting to hear from Quick and Kramer about their longtime professional relationship and why they continue to thrive together. Below, part one of our two-part conversation.

This conversation has been lightly edited for clarity purposes:

TVNewser: How did you end up working together?

Kramer: I’ve worked at CNBC for a little more than 15 years. Becky and I started working together almost 10 years ago. We started working together on a weekend show that CNBC produced, which was business news for local stations. It was syndicated, called On the Money.

We started working together, but then we started doing many other things together that it made sense for me to move to Squawk Box full-time a few months later.

Quick: We are grateful to have as much of Katie as we can get. It started out with On the Money, but then we moved to Squawk Box.

We travel all over the place together. It’s a working relationship that’s so hard to explain. Katie can finish my sentences on things. I pride myself on coming up with my own questions, but Katie can write the questions I would write and sometimes even better. She’s so good at coming at it from the same perspective and knowing how to digest complex information; but then trying to ask questions that make it interesting. You get to share a brain with somebody, you really are going to get into a kind of groove.

Why do you think your partnership been so successful over all of these years? What’s the secret, or secrets to the success?

Quick: I would start by just saying “the sharing of the brain” part. Some great relationships work because people think so differently. A ying and yang. However, I think Katie and I work well together because we think so similarly. It’s not to say that we are blindsided only looking at one side of things, but Katie and I both look at an interview in kind of the same way, which is understanding the nuts and bolts of what’s really going on with some complicated things, but then trying to make that interesting to a broader audience.

We’ll sit down together sometimes and hash out questions. One of the ways we do it is we’ll both come to the table and start brainstorming and saying how we would get into it. Sometimes, she has prepared questions in advance, and I kind of work off of that. Other times, I tell her what I’m thinking off the top of my head, but we kind of pick up right wherever the other person is leading, and we’re able to run through with it. We’re very similar, I think.

Kramer: I always say to people that the job of a producer is to be the “safety net.” I always love when we have something that’s complicated to break it down to the essentials and come to the foundation of what questions we want to have answered and what information we need to have to do it.

It’s so important to do the research and be very broad in everything we’re looking at, but I think my favorite part of the process is when we start to distill all the information and just build how our conversation is going to go. I think that’s something Becky and I do very well together. We’ll say, “What’s the first question? OK, they’re probably going to answer with this…” And “What’s the next question? I want to make sure I get the sort of sense that if it’s a more difficult topic or push them any — where does that fit in the conversation?” It’s not a script by any means, but it’s like putting the blocks together so that you can go out and do it.

Quick: We don’t do this on a daily basis in terms of scripting out where we think we’re headed, or plotting out where the arc of the conversation might go; but for our big interviews, we definitely do. It’s always best when we just sit down and have a conversation together because it’s an organic thing. It’s kind of like a brainstorm of the super smart to the pop culture angles out of all these things.

There are a lot to choose from, but is there a specific broadcast of Squawk Box that stands out to the two of you?

Quick: I would say our time in Davos. We do it every single year, and it is a tour de force. There are probably 30 or 40 big CEOs, world leaders that we interview over a three, four-day period of time.

Kramer: We did more than 70 [interviews]!

Quick: The conditions are difficult. You’re in the snow and we did the broadcast outside for three hours. So, you’re sitting outside for three plus hours in the snow, trying to do back-to-back-to-back interviews. It takes months of preparation. It’s a high stress, tight wire act and you’re trying to make it all work. Hiccups will always come along the way, there are unexpected problems and we’re trying to iron them all out.

It’s a 22 hour a day job for the entire week we’re there. We live together, our apartments across the hall from each other, and we just leave the door open and kind of wander back and forth. It’s nothing but a flywheel when you’re there, just trying to survive that process.

It’s physically difficult, there is too much traffic, so you’ve got to walk everywhere, but you’re walking everywhere uphill in the Alps. There are obstacles everywhere and you’re in your snow, in your boots trying not to fall and being out late and starting early. And again, just trying to blow through these big interviews with [JP Morgan CEO] Jamie Dimon, followed by 15 minutes with [Goldman Sachs CEO] Lloyd Blankfein, followed by 15 minutes with the president of Mexico; back-to-back-to-back, knocking it out for three hours straight from the show and then doing a bunch of tapings in between; and maybe you get someone like Will I Am, Bono or Bill Gates. It’s a unique collection of some of the most complicated guests we have to try and book, and with the exception of the Covid year, we’ve done it every year.

Kramer: I was going to say Covid. Talking to people in our business, and we could talk for days about what happened in March 2020, how we managed to do what we do every day, and even how we got on the air every day.

I think we were a couple of months into the work from home scenario. Becky, Joe [Kernen] and Andrew [Ross Sorkin] are a three-legged stool on Squawk Box and they were each in their basement or spare bedroom doing the show remotely. We were all remote. Guests were beaming in from their living room or kitchen tables.

Then at the end of May and beginning of June 2020, just after George Floyd was killed and the response in terms of civil unrest in big cities, and then the response of the corporate community – I think it took all of us by surprise. Journalistically, it was a good surprise.  The first week of June that year, there was a major story that was part of the Covid experience for everybody, that was part of mainstream news.

CNBC had a wonderful spot {to look at} how the business leaders of the country were responding to something that was raw and emotional. And then that weekend, it became, “Oh my gosh, what’s going on?” Things are already are so surreal and crazy with the pandemic; then, where I live in New York City, there were people not far from my apartment getting involved in the mass demonstrations. There were cars on fire.

We cover the business world, we cover Wall Street, we cover the markets, and how do we find our way into the story? What was amazing was the CEOs of the biggest companies started speaking out, and started saying things that were personal and emotional. People started having these difficult and striking conversations around their workplaces. We had a crazy two weeks where we had the CEOs of AT&T, Walmart, Marriott, Johnson & Johnson, General Motors; the voices of America’s corporate community getting involved in this big story, and I think for us it was something we were all personally experiencing and then having the opportunity to tell the story. I felt so proud of our work over that time. All the relationships, all our journalistic ability, our ability to talk and have creative and interesting conversations came together for me in that story.