Time Magazine has a fun profile of Jim Cramer’s entertainingly Beale-esque — and wildly successful — “Mad Money” show on CNBC. A snippet:
It’s minutes to airtime, and Jim Cramer is pacing the set like a caged beast. He scans the five screens on his desk, stops, punches some keys. “Hmm. The Chinese Google plays are up,” he mumbles. He furrows his brows, pokes a few more keys. “Whoa. Wells Fargo gave up on the brokerage business.” He’s talking aloud to himself, which is fine, because this is just a warm-up for the barrage of instant analysis he is about to unleash. Cramer’s knack for quick distillation enabled him to build a fortune as a fast-trading hedge-fund manager in the ’90s. Now he’s using the same reflexes to resuscitate ratings at the financial cable station CNBC, whose fortunes deflated with the Internet bubble.
Mad Money with Jim Cramer is a raucous investor show that features vertigo-inducing camera movement and the blustery, hyperkinetic Cramer bouncing around the set howling stock-market strategy. He punctuates his advice with a battery of noise effects: “Sell! Sell! Sell!” a voice booms through the studio after Cramer hits one of 15 large red buttons on the set; another one elicits a Hallelujah Chorus.
Gimmicky? You bet. But the program, in stark contrast to shows like the staid, departed Wall Street Week, is a clear success. Mad Money has boosted viewership in its 6 p.m. E.T., weekday slot 74%, to 176,000, and is on an upward trajectory. Cramer has the network’s highest-rated program in a slot that had been home to its lowest. Pleads program developer Susan Krakower: “Find me another Cramer, please!” [Emphasis added]
[obDisclosure: I write a weekly column on finance & investing for the Cramer-founded RealMoney/TheStreet.]