Nightly Business Report history

Nightly Business Report (NBR) is the nation’s most-watched evening business news program. It is carried by public stations across the nation. NBR is also seen around the world, and segments of the program are available online and through various multi-media and educational platforms. But its early beginnings are rooted in local television.

When Nightly Business Report premiered on January 22, 1979, on South Florida’s public television station WPBT, it was a 15-minute local program. At the time, few realized that it signaled the start of a new era in TV news, as television’s first daily business news program.

The idea for a business news program had come from several businessmen on the WPBT Board. Linda O’Bryon, who was WPBT’s News Director at the time, headed the effort to get NBR on the air. In the fall of 1978, she was approached by senior management and asked to create a daily business news program. She developed the program concept and expanded the editorial staff to launch NBR (then called “The Nightly Business Report”). Paul Kangas was among the first to join, signing on as its stock market commentator. O’Bryon and Merwin Sigale were the first co-anchors. The editorial/production team that launched the program included WPBT veterans Rodney Ward, Bruce Eibe and Jeff Huff, and Jack Kahn, who was the program’s first producer.

Within nine months, NBR expanded to a half-hour. Buoyed by the success of the program locally and by positive comments from viewers — both residents and visitors to South Florida — NBR was offered nationally through the public television syndication service now known as American Public Television. On October 19, 1981, NBR launched on 125 public stations around the country. The first regular commentator on the program was Alan Greenspan, then a private economist, who remained as an NBR commentator until his appointment as Fed chief in 1987. A number of public television stations supplemented the program’s newsgathering efforts by serving as “bureaus” for the program.

The timing of NBR’s national roll-out couldn’t have been better. Ronald Reagan moved into the White House and stock prices soon took off like a rocket, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average on a historic ride that took it almost straight up for the next two decades. The unprecedented bull market had a side effect — it brought millions of new investors to the market and to NBR. Over the years, NBR’s coverage has extended far beyond Wall Street. NBR crews have gone to the Persian Gulf, Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan and China.

In 1998, respected financial journalist Susie Gharib joined the anchor desk with Paul Kangas. Gharib anchors from the heart of New York’s financial district, while Kangas remained at the program’s production center in Miami. NBR is currently broadcast television’s only network evening news program that originates from two cities on a regular basis.

In March 2005, NBR became part of the PBS national program service and its website hosted by PBS.org. NBR is also seen internationally through Worldnet, the U.S. Radio and Television Armed Services network and on SBS Australia and Triangle Television in New Zealand. NBR operates three reporting bureaus with fulltime staff members – led by Suzanne Pratt in New York, Darren Gersh in Washington D.C., and Diane Eastabrook in Chicago – as well as bureaus in Denver, Silicon Valley, and Phoenix operated in partnership with the public television stations in those markets.

NBR’s anchors and reporters have interviewed sitting presidents (George W. Bush, Reagan, Clinton) former presidents (Carter) and corporate chiefs — ranging from Jack Welch to Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. Alumni of the program’s anchor desk include the late Del Frank as well as Dean Shepherd, Jim Wicks and Cassie Seifert. Neil Cavuto served as NBR’s New York bureau chief in the late 1980s.

Over the years, NBR has received numerous awards. In 2005, the program won its first national Emmy ® Award for extended coverage of China’s emergence as an international economic power, and in 2006 the website was honored with a Best In Class award from the International Media Council. Rodney Ward took the helm from Linda O’Bryon in 2006, serving as executive editor and senior vice president through 2011. O’Bryon is currently President and CEO of South Carolina ETV.

In 2009, Linda O’Bryon and Paul Kangas received the Lifetime Achievement Emmy ® for their pioneering efforts in business journalism. The honor was a fitting close to Paul Kangas’ legendary 30 year career talking stocks on Nightly Business Report. Paul’s last broadcast aired Thursday, December 31st, 2009 on PBS. He signed off by wishing the audience one final “best of good buys.”

Tom Hudson joined Nightly Business Report as the Miami anchor in January 2010, reporting on topics such as Federal Reserve interest rate policy, corporate governance and shareholder activism as well as providing insights to daily market activity. Prior to co-anchoring Nightly Business Report, he was host and managing editor of the nationally syndicated financial television program “First Business.”

On August 18, 2010, Nightly Business Report was acquired by NBR Worldwide, Inc., a private entity led by Chairman and CEO Mykalai Kontilai. The purchase marked the first time that a premier nightly news broadcast produced specifically for PBS and owned by one of its affiliates had been acquired by a private entity. Tom Hudson was named Managing Editor and Co-anchor, a newly combined position with both editorial and managerial responsibility in July 2011. That November, Rick Ray took over as CEO of NBR Worldwide, and the program returned to American Public Television for US distribution. Rick was the co-founder and CEO of television sports syndicator Raycom Sports.

“We are excited to reconnect with APT after a more than five-year hiatus, and are confident this move will greatly enhance the future growth of the entire NBR news enterprise,” said Rick Ray, CEO of NBR Worldwide, Inc. “We are grateful to all of the talented people at PBS and APT who have ensured the continued success of Nightly Business Report.”

Nightly Business Report is now available on public television, on the web at www.nbr.com, and on Facebook and Twitter @bizrpt.