MEDIA: Power Lunch: CNBC’s midday business dim sum - CNBC goes head-to-head with other daytime business shows, but manages to stand out by having a softer, quirkier edge. Claire Atkinson gives you a taste of how to pitch

If CNBC’s Power Lunch were a midday meal it would have to be Chinese.

If CNBC’s Power Lunch were a midday meal it would have to be Chinese.

If CNBC’s Power Lunch were a midday meal it would have to be


The two-hour weekday dim sum offers bite-size interviews surrounded by

market data and served with sweet and sour news about publicly traded


But unlike the other shows on the cable business channel, Power Lunch

takes a softer, less market-driven approach. Airing from noon to 2 pm

and hosted by veteran business journalist Bill Griffeth, it is described

by producer Ramona Schindelheim as the channel’s ’fun spot.’

While other business slots are looking for the news makers (it is

followed by so-called money honey, Maria Bartiromo, on Street Signs, for

example) Power Lunch identifies trends or gives business advice. Recent

guest John Peterman discussed why his retail chain, J. Peterman, went

bankrupt even with all those mentions on Seinfeld.

The show’s off-beat nature is a natural for Internet companies, which

are an endless source of fun ideas. Power Lunch invited Chris

Mac-Askill, CEO of, to explain his site, which sells books

that you print out on your home computer. Hi-tech industry commentator

Esther Dyson was also a recent guest.

The October schedule is heavy with Internet coverage because the show is

due to be on the road in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. However,

Schindelheim admits she wants to widen her coverage: ’We need to get

back to doing more than tech companies.’ She advises anyone pitching her

to ’try to think of creative types of business - not everyone is

interested in the regular tech firms.’

To create stories, the show generally picks three reporters from a CNBC

pool and uses regular correspondents from The Wall Street Journal and

Dow Jones newswires. Dow Jones has a significant stake in CNBC following

its 1997 decision to merge its interests in its own European and Asian

news channels with NBC’s cable news channel.

In terms of the weekly lineup, the Journal’s medical reporter, Michael

Waldholz, appears on Mondays, while national small-business editor Kevin

Salwen is featured on Tuesdays. Power Lunch uses Internet writer Kara

Swisher on Wednesdays, tech correspondent Walter Mossberg on Thursdays

and film critic Joe Morgenstern on Fridays.

Schindelheim has been producing the show since January 1997. She works

from 8 am to 4 pm, meticulously stringing together five-minute segments

into two hours. Almost everything on the show is live, and the producer

is reluctant to take pre-recorded video interviews. However, corporate

videos illustrating a particular business idea are often used.

Each day Schindelheim books around seven guests for a range of segments

that include ’Make Your Money Work,’ a personal finance show that

features experts who give advice over the phone.

While small-business specialist Salwen does cover companies that are not

on the market, being on the big boards is otherwise virtually a

requirement for getting on the show. ’Only pitch companies over dollars

100 million market capitalization,’ says Schindelheim.

Power Lunch is also particular about putting only chief executives on

the air. Schindelheim has lately booked the likes of AT&T’s Leo Hindery,

Jr. and Sun Microsystems’s Scott McNealy. ’We only feature the CEO

because they can talk about every aspect of the business - the money,

the marketing, the profits,’ she says. ’They have the whole take.’

Schindelheim used to be a sitcom writer and it shows in her sense of

humor. She commissioned Salwen to do a piece on a man who had figured a

way of making money out of sewage. His idea was to freeze the waste as

fertilizer and turn it into snow to spray over fields, turning them

white instead of brown. Biochemical companies didn’t believe he could do


Salwen, who does not cover product stories, explains that the piece

illustrated how you have to pay to demonstrate your idea if it is

difficult for people to believe you. His advice to PR pros: ’If you want

to pitch something to Power Lunch, pitch it to me at the Journal. I am

looking for stories that transcend industries and teach lessons about

how small companies operate. I look at trends, change and


Power Lunch has obviously made a name for itself in the business


’It covers a wide variety of industries,’ says Elliot Sloane, principle

of New York-based PR agency Sloane & Company. ’Other shows are more


Many viewers keep a watchful eye on the graphics-laden screen where the

latest stock prices scroll along the bottom and company data run down

the side. Sometimes there is so much written information on the screen

that talking heads are reduced to the size of postage stamps.

While many viewers tune in during a lunch-time workout or over a

sandwich in the office, CNBC is unable to count them; ratings company

Nielsen records only in-home viewing. Power Lunch isn’t one of the

network’s top-rated shows but it has grown in home viewing. It has leapt

from an average 169,000 households in 1997 to 372,000 this year. The

channel is now seen in 70 million US and 147 million worldwide


According to Schindelheim, Power Lunch has even influenced Time

magazine’s choice of cover. The show featured a piece on the publicly

traded firm Spanish Broadcasting and the growing influence of Latin

Americans in the US. The piece was illustrated with a Ricky Martin

video, which was in turn seen by a Time reporter who, a few weeks later,

landed Martin on the May 24 cover.


Power Lunch


2200 Fletcher Avenue, Fort Lee, NJ 07024

Tel: (201) 585 2622 (switchboard)

Tel: (201) 585 6350 (general news desk)


Executive producer of market hours: Elyse Weiner

Producer: Ramona Schindelheim

Segment producer: Chris Moon

Segment producer: Kerima Greene

CNBC staff

Reporter: David Faber

NYSE reporter: Bob Pisani

Nasdaq-Amex reporter: Tom Costello


Medical reporter: Michael Waldholz

National small-business editor: Kevin Salwen

Internet reporter: Kara Swisher

Technology correspondent: Walter Mossberg

Film critic: Joe Morgenstern


Reporter: Bob O’Brien

Reporter: Larry Bauman

Host: Bill Griffeth.

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