Eric Bolling Talks To Benzinga Before Launch Of New Show: Money Rocks
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This is part 1 of a 2 part interview.
Q: We're excited about your new show Money Rocks. Could you tell our listeners a little about that?
A: It's premiering Monday at 8 o'clock. It's a look at stories across music, sports, celebrities, politics, and business, basically just any entertaining business walk of life stories. It's a really different look, stuff you're not going to see 5 times a day on the various networks. We're gonna have some big-name guests. The first guest is Sir Richard Branson. Lee Dewyze, who just won American Idol is on Tuesday. Tony Gonzales, the tight end for the Atlanta Falcons. It's a show with different looks and different kinds of people, all about money.
Q: That's very exciting, no one can get enough of Richard Branson. So what kind of topics will you be discussing with Richard Branson.
A: Virgin is celebrating the 10 year of service between England and Las Vegas. We talked about why he went from music, remember Virgin Records, to Virgin Airlines, and what's next, what's he looking at, like Virgin Galactic bring people to outer space. And he also talks about how we are treating BP and whether the administration is being fair. Just a really interesting guy who has a lot of opinions and a lot of fun, perfect for our show. He's a risk taker, a rebel, and a rockstar.
Q: So having guests like that, are there going to be panels or is it basically one-on-one with guests?
A: It's a little bit of everything. We want to bring people into our studio. Our studio is gorgeous. They really did the studio up beautifully for Money Rocks. So we want people to come in and sit down in person. We're doing a lot of satellite stuff because a lot of it is entertainment. We're going to be hooked up to Vegas and L.A. a lot because they're there. We're going to have Ted Nugent in next week; we may keep him around so he weigh in on some business stuff, for fun, to give everyone a look at what goes on inside his mind. They have us a lot of creative freedoms which is fantastic.
Q: You have the sports background, you went into business and now you're back in entertainment. Let's go back to your Pittsburgh Pirates days. Your career ended due to injury. Was that very upsetting for you? Did you know right away you wanted to be in business after?
A: So I'm five years old and all I want to do is to play baseball for a living. I'm fortunate enough to play high level college baseball, and I was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was a dream come true. Very early in my second minor league season, I was playing third base, turned, threw a ball, and tore my rotator and knew that was it. It was three or four days before the organization said we'd love to rehab you, but at 22 you're not that rehab-able. You can rehab a 17 year old but at 22 I was almost getting old.
So what do I do? I had nothing going on. I had just left Duke University so I burned that bridge. My girlfriend at the time said her father was a trader, why don't you try that. To make a long story short I found my way into the commodity business through that contact and ended up loving it. I spent 17 years on the energy trading floor. The sports really prepared me for that kind of trading. I didn't work for anybody, if I made money it was mine, if I lost money it was mine. It was very self-motivating, high pressure, competitive. All the things that make a successful trader also make a successful athlete, so the transition was great. Turns out, the next turn into TV, you really need the same things. I've never worked harder in my life, and, boy, if you want to talk about competitiveness. If I take a week off, which I haven't done in years, someone is there to step in and take over your show and you may not ever get the seat back. So that same thing translates; the sports background is helpful.
Q: You're one of the hardest working people in media. You have a Sunday show in the mornings, a weekend show, and a daily show. Do you ever take a day off?
A: No, no. I've been been fortunate enough that when there's a fill-in need for Fox and Friends, Cavuto, or even O'Reilly or Beck I love it. It's good for our show, and I have a blast doing it.
Q: O'Reilly being the top rated cable show, I remember all the financial channels and message boards saying "Eric Bolling's hosting O'Reilly." I think you were on two, three nights, and you were great, everyone gave great reviews.
A: That was really a surreal moment. They start counting you down from 10, and I'm sitting there going "Am I really sitting in Bill O'Reilly's seat?"
Q: Were you nervous?
A: No I wasn't nervous, I was thrilled. The excitement was just crazy. I loved it. And we did great, the numbers we put down those two days were phenomenal. They were O'Reilly-esque numbers, not Bill's numbers but they were close. Interesting you should bring this up. For our first show, on tape, I sat down with Bill and asked him, "You're the 8 o'clock big dog, what do I need to know?" And we just hit some really funny responses, so we're gonna play that during the first show.
Q: One of our readers, a relatively new commodities trader, wrote to us and wants to know how you dealt with big losses. There was a story in the Guardian about you losing $2 million while reading to your son's preschool class. Tell us about that day or tell us about how you deal with losses.
A: You have to have a stomach for risk, you have to be able to take those kind of losses. A lot of people can't do that, and they get out of trading pretty early. Many years ago, my son was in preschool, he's 11 now, so let's call it 7 years ago, for months he said "Daddy, you need to read a story for class." I said, "Sure, no problem buddy." He picked April 10th, April 10th finally comes and I'd forgotten about it, he says tomorrow is your day to read. I say "Sure, what book do you want to read?" He picks Spider and the Fly. We bring the book to his preschool.
Overnight some weather pattern had changed. It was supposed to be mild weather, well it was freezing. It was frigid weather, some Canadian air had come down, and natural gas was popping off the charts, it was just exploding. 20 cents, 40 cents, 80 cents higher. And I'm short, I was bearish. I'm sitting down and we started reading Spider and the Fly, and my phone is buzzing off the hook, and I can only think it's one of two things. It's either really good because the market turned around and I'm right, or really bad, really really really bad, because the people wouldn't bother me unless it was something really bad.
So I get through the whole Spider and the Fly and I'm sweating, I have this panic sweat on, and my son is just so proud, looking up at me. So I ask ok guys, are there any questions? It's such a compelling book, that 20 little hands out of 20 went up. So every kid had a question, and I'm dying and I get through the whole thing, and my son is just so proud. It was a bloodbath when I got to the trading floor, an absolute bloodbath. But you know what, I will never forget the look on his face while I was reading that book.
Q: Well, it's a story and obviously he won't forget you being in there reading it, and those things happen.
A: And he'll never know how bad that trading day was for me. Honestly, I would change the loss but I wouldn't change the chance to read for him. He's why I left Fast Money.
A: Yeah. I developed that show. I was the first one they called when they said they wanted to put that show on. I was the original. They called me first, they said do you know any other traders.
Q: Prior to Fast Money, were you doing any TV work on CNBC?
A: Just for them. CNBC would come down to the trading floor and say what's going on in oil? I'd do an oil hit here or there, drilling policy, White House policy. What's going on in gold?
So I'm doing that and they say we're thinking about putting together a brand new TV show about traders, about Wall Street, would you be interested? I said sure, let's do it. I go in, I interview, they say "you're in, let's figure out what the rest of this show is gonna look like."
We bring in 300 different traders to try out for the three remaining trader seats. We ended up picking Adami, Tim Strazzini, and Jeff Macke, and myself, we were the four original panelists. Then we went through the host. Melissa Francis was the first one who tried out, they weren't thrilled. Then it was Erin Burnett, they loved her, but she couldn't deal with the time commitment. And then Dylan [Ratigan] came along, and it was boom, this is it. This is the right show. We got an aggressive, kind of arrogant, four guys from the trading floor, it was like a locker room.
Q: And it was very successful, people loved it, and were addicted.
A: It was, it was. I think they blew it, but at first it was very successful, something new, something no one had ever seen before. It was five guys, we ribbed each other a lot. They changed the structure and I think they dropped the ball.
Q: Do you know why that show wasn't able to hold its talent?
I don't know. They lost Bolling? I don't know. You know, maybe it was because it was very heavy, kind of trader-esque, in the market. The financial downturn kind of turned people off. Don't forget that when we started in '05 everybody was trading, everybody. The guy down the street was trading.
More to come in Part 2 of the interview.
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