Louis Rukeyser, Longtime Wall Street Week Host, Dies at 73

The 73 year old hosted the PBS program “Wall Street Week with Luis Rukeyser” from 1970 until 2002, offering a sardonic take on the goings on in the markets and using his band of stock picking experts he referred to as his “elves” to predict the market performance for the next week.

“He was a pioneer in economic reporting in television. Right up to the time he got ill, he was at the top of the heap,” Bud Rukeyser told the Associated Press, adding his brother had been “a giant at what he did.”

During his time on PBS, he earned a reputation as a savvy commentator, labeled by the San Francisco Examiner as “one of the most accurate economic forecasters in the country.”

“He brings to the tube a blend of warmth, wit, irreverence, thrusting intellect and large doses of charm, plus the credibility of a Walter Cronkite,” Money magazine wrote in one cover story.

TV Guide called Wall $treet Week one of the best programs on American television and wrote, “Louis Rukeyser’s opening remarks on the week’s business events are crafted gems of wry commentary; his airy and adroit handling of his big-shot guests is a pleasure to watch.”

But in later years, a fight with the producers of Wall $treet Week, Maryland Public Television, led to Rukeyser’s departure in 2002. MPT, looking to update the program, looked to demote Rukeyser and bring in younger hosts to make the program more appealing to a younger audience.

Rukeyser instead left MPT and that same month started another program, “Louis Rukeyser’s Wall Street,” on the financial cable channel CNBC. The program also appeared on numerous local PBS stations.

In the end, both programs largely failed. Rukeyser appeared for his last program on CNBC on Oct. 31, 2003, after which he went on medical leave for surgery to relieve persistent pain in his back. PBS’ successor program, “Wall Street Week with Fortune,” failed to garner new audience and was eventually cancelled in 2005.

In May 2004, he announced that doctors found a low-grade malignancy during a follow-up exam.

Rukeyser’s diagnosis of multiple myeloma, a rare bone marrow cancer, started a long and largely private battle with the disease that on Tuesday claimed his life.

Despite the broadcasting spat, analysts and market watchers remembered Rukeyser as one of the superstars of their world.

“He has been a financial institution,” Michael Holland, a New York fund manager and sometime Rukeyser guest, told the Associated Press. “No one can replace him. He brought financial journalism to a new level with his trademarks of honesty, humor and fairness. He always looked at both sides of the issues. His only bias was toward optimism.”

Rukeyser is survived by his wife, Alexandra, three daughters and two grandchildren.