MEDIA: CNNfn’s Biz Buzz looks for more biz, less buzz

CNNfn’s entertainment-industry show has always been about the lighter side of business. But, as Claire Atkinson reports, its new executive producer is looking to get more serious

CNNfn’s entertainment-industry show has always been about the lighter side of business. But, as Claire Atkinson reports, its new executive producer is looking to get more serious

CNNfn’s entertainment-industry show has always been about the

lighter side of business. But, as Claire Atkinson reports, its new

executive producer is looking to get more serious

When executive producer Margaret Traub-Aguirre started work on CNNfn’s

entertainment-business show Biz Buzz, she did the honorable thing and

bought the staff Krispy Kreme donuts every day for a week.

But though Biz Buzz is about the lighter side of business news, there’s

nothing sugary about Traub-Aguirre. She wants to make it a much harder

news show than it was under her predecessor, senior producer Jill

Abramson, who quit to join about three months ago.

Traub-Aguirre comes to CNNfn from ABC’s Good Morning America. (Her boss,

Shelby Coffey III, president of CNN Business News and CNNfn, is also new

and from ABC; he took over from Lou Dobbs at the beginning of this


From a makeshift office in the corner of a CNNfn spillover building on

Ninth Avenue in New York (the main location is in Penn Plaza),

Traub-Aguirre says the show won’t be carrying pieces on jewelry

designers in New York’s East Village anymore. Instead there’s a hit list

of entertainment’s movers and shakers that she’s hoping to tempt onto

the program.

Fulfilling that task has so far involved doing the New York party

circuit and making the introductions. In July, the new executive

producer was at a Talk magazine party for writer Joe Esztherhas. She

mingled with Talk publisher Ron Galotti and editor-in-chief Tina Brown,

as well as legendary journalist (and Brown’s husband) Harold Evans.

They’re all people she’d like to have on the show.

Traub-Aguirre mentions others, including Joe Roth, the chief of new film

studio Revolution, and possibly the heads of the Hollywood talent

agencies, such as CAA.

To perhaps steal some of CNBC’s thunder, she wants to tie stories more

closely to the markets. ’We’ve been giving the show a harder edge and

making it more in tune with the markets,’ she says.

But not everything has to be directly tied to stocks. Traub-Aguirre says

she’ll look at private companies doing interesting things. But for the

most part Biz Buzz covers music, entertainment, advertising and the


’There was a lot of fashion and sports before. A little of that is fine,

but we want to focus it more on the media and entertainment,’ says the

producer, who is already negotiating with bosses to increase her time

period from 30 minutes to an hour.

Small ratings, big guests

Though ratings for the channel are not available because of its limited

cable distribution, the show doesn’t want for lack of interest.

Traub-Aguirre has been told that Time Warner chairman Gerald Levin even

watches the show. The channel’s small ratings have not hindered Biz

Buzz’s ability to book top-name guests, who have included Motion Picture

Academy of America chief Jack Valenti, CEO Deanna Brown,

musician Winton Marsalis and CEO of music site Michael


Entertainment Weekly writer Dave Karger is dropping the number of times

he appears on the show to talk about box office figures, but Sandy

Drayton, the magazine’s director of public relations, is looking to fill

the slot with someone else. ’It is always good experience for our people

to be on TV, and I never have to worry that it isn’t an appropriate

place for them to be,’ Drayton says.

Traub-Aguirre has been trying to break news on the show. When executives

from the advertising industry and the Screen Actors Guild showed up for

a segment on the commercial-actors strike and were forced to wait in the

green room together, she quipped, ’If you want to negotiate here, we can

break some news on air.’

While Traub-Aguirre claims Biz Buzz is in a league of its own in terms

of content, many PR pros admit they find it difficult to distinguish

between Biz Buzz and other shows, such as CNBC’s Squawk Box or the

entertainment-related programs on MSNBC. And the lack of ratings

information continues to irk more measurement-focused PR pros.

Biz Buzz is six years old, and the new chief is looking to make some

changes to more than just the content. ’It has a kind of passe look and

feel,’ she says. ’It can be so much better. There is nothing to stop us

changing the look.’ But any alterations to the soundtrack and graphics

will come only after Traub-Aguirre is satisfied with the editorial


Biz Buzz currently airs after The N.E.W. Show (New Economy Watch)

weekdays at 6 pm and precedes Moneyline, which begins at 6:30. Booker

Raluca Minea schedules around three live guests per show. Taped pieces

usually run at around three minutes each, while live guests fill around

five minutes of air time.

Sharing the buzz

While there is some overlap on subject matter between the separate CNNfn

shows - Microsoft rulings and judgments against Napster being cases in

point - they don’t share guests. Biz Buzz often uses other CNNfn

correspondents and shares footage on big stories. It will also sometimes

share packages with CNN counterpart Showbiz Today, which airs at 4


CNNfn’s official news gathering alliances include Fortune, eCompany Now,

The Industry Standard and The Financial Times. But outside the CNN

empire, Traub-Aguirre has done much to build some informal alliances

with Web sites and magazines that cover the industry. The executive

producer talks frequently to media pundits at and trade

publications The Hollywood Reporter and Variety.

Traub-Aguirre is a veritable media junkie but admits it’s hard to keep

up on so many different industries. The former Associated Press reporter

reads hard copies of around seven newspapers a day, alongside the likes

of Brill’s Content, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, New York and

Entertainment Weekly.

Traub-Aguirre is open to taking calls from publicists and is eager to

hear about CEOs of public companies. ’We always want good stories.

Sometimes it can be really busy and other times so slow; it really is

feast or famine.

There are so many publicly held companies, so it could be helpful to us

to hear from them.’

However, if you are pitching a complicated Web site, you’re unlikely to

hold her attention for long, so she suggests e-mailing the details.

’I’ll follow up if I’m interested,’ she says, reminding pushy publicists

not to be too eager. ’You want me on your good side.’


Biz Buzz


Five Penn Plaza

New York, NY 10001

Tel: (212) 714 3341

Fax: (212) 631 7662



Executive producer: Margaret Traub-Aguirre

Producer: Jill Grobowsky Bergus

Field producer: Carolyn Purcell

Booker: Raluca Minea

Host: Beverly Schuch.

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