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Trish Regan Leads Fox Business’ Push Into Live Primetime

When Trish Regan was last spotted with a major presence in primetime TV, she was doing a CNBC documentary about the business of marijuana.  As she makes a return to the timeslot, her current network is betting she’s going to smoke her competitors.

Regan was last Thursday rehearsing her new primetime show at Fox Business Network headquarters in midtown Manhattan, holding forth from the same studio where veteran Neil Cavuto had just given viewers a few phrases about the effects of President Trump’s policies on a plunging stock market. Regan had some cautionary words of her own. America had “an hourglass economy,” she said in an ersatz commentary segment not meant for air. “If you’re in the middle,” she warned, “you are the ones feeling the squeeze.”

She intends to amplify a focus on dinner-table economics when she launches “Trish Regan Primetime” this evening at 8 p.m.  Regan says she’s eager to present both sides of an issue – something that was instilled in her when she was growing up in New Hampshire. “Everyone was willing to hear the other side, because it’s so small and everyone was willing to stay friends,” she explained. “You had to, because you were going to see them down the street at the movies on the weekend or at dinner down at the coffee shop.”

Fox wants Regan to do more than lure viewers concerned about how stock-market news affects their pocketbook. The debut of her program this evening heralds a new focus on giving Fox Business viewers more live programming – even when the DJIA and Nasdaq aren’t in active flux.”People want timely information when they want it, and you just can’t turn that on and off, and then wait for the next morning to find out what happened that day,” said Brian Jones president of Fox Business Network, in an interview. “There’s a place for taped programming, and Netflix and Amazon have made that clear, but in business news it is moving way too fast to wait until the next morning to serve your viewers.”

The show is likely to get a boost on just its second night in existence. President Trump, who seems to be eager to make more press appearances than he has in the recent past, has agreed to do an interview with Regan on Tuesday. Topics on the table include the economy, his recent comments on the Federal Reserve, and the coming midterm elections.

“There’s an appetite for something different” in primetime news, Regan suggests. “I think what I bring to the table is a lot of intellect, some fairness and the desire to get the story right and make sure the viewer is presented with lots of opinions and lots of opportunity to think for themselves.” She will be the only female anchor among the cable-news networks at 8 p.m. She will be up against Tucker Carlson on Fox News Channel; Chris Hayes at MSNBC; and Anderson Cooper at CNN. Fox Business’ traditional rival, CNBC, tends to air reality and documentary programming during primetime.

Not too long ago, Fox Business followed a live hour of Lou Dobbs with a taped hour anchored by Kennedy, the irreverent libertarian. Kennedy started broadcasting live a few weeks ago. Starting tonight Fox Business will air more live programming in primetime than it has in the recent past – and viewers may not get as much pop-culture whiplash as they might have when transitioning from Dobbs to the former MTV VJ.

Regan wants to put a spotlight on the plight of the middle class, as well as on explaining the policies that may have driven big market moves during the day. Viewers should not expect her to cover earnings and corporate news as they happen – once the markets are closed, that sort of thing tends to slow to a trickle. But she will seek to illuminate policies that affect American wallets. “I feel very strongly that there need to be better policies directed at helping our middle class, and that’s not a left or right issue, although each political party tries to grab it and run with it,” she says.

Regan also intends to run commentary segments, and Fox Business’ Jones says those will be labeled so viewers know they are hearing opinion as opposed to a news discussion.

Fox Business is just the latest stop for Regan, who has worked at a variety of news outlets. She has logged time at CBS Marketwatch, CNBC, and Bloomberg Television. She joined Fox Business in 2015. While at CNBC, she reported two documentary projects.  “Marijuana Inc.: Inside America’s Pot Industry” and “Marijuana USA,” about the growing marijuana industry. Her book on the subject, “Joint Ventures: Inside America’s Almost Legal Marijuana Industry,” was published in the spring of 2011.

While parts of the Fox News primetime empire are famously partisan, Regan says she’s interested in presenting all sides of the story. “I’m an independent. I vote both sides. I don’t see myself as political. I see myself as wanting the best policy and I don’t think that has to be exclusive to one party or another,” she says. “I’m open to all ideas. I’m open to anyone who has an idea, regardless of whether they are left or right.“

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