Jon Friedman's Media Web
Dylan Ratigan exits MSNBC6/11/12 12:01 AM ET (MarketWatch)
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- I don't think we have seen the last of Dylan Ratigan as a public figure.
Ratigan says he is leaving his show at MSNBC for points unknown.
For now, that is, I counter.
Will he find a new gig on TV -- or perhaps try his hand in politics? Right now, it's anybody's guess.
Ratigan has hosted a show on MSNBC (CMCSA) , beginning at 4:00 p.m. Eastern time, for the past three years. He wants to try to make a difference in society. Doesn't that sort of sound like a budding politician?
Ratigan told the New York Times: "Once you've said your piece, you can either keep saying it -- and then it's a job, good job, pays well, everybody knows your name, it's great -- OR you can decide what you're going to do about it. And the answer is, I don't know, in order to figure it out, I have to dismount."
Do you believe him? Can Ratigan actually say farewell to a life on TV?
Can someone who has so evidently loved proclaiming his views on such hot-button issues as the failures of politicians, the broken economic system in America, and the need for campaign-finance reform, simply stride off into the sunset? I doubt it.
If Ratigan is being totally sincere, however, he has taken the most original attitude toward television stardom in recent memory. It's rare when someone bolts from the tube in his prime. Already a cable TV star, he can look forward to a long life in front of the camera. He hasn't yet reached his peak.
Then again, the New York Times noted that Ratigan's "current contract expires this month." He may soon be fielding TV offers.
Before joining MSNBC from CNBC, Ratigan had reportedly been considered for a position at ABC News (DIS) . He is an attractive TV-news figure because he brings a sharp intellect and an irreverent style to an industry which rewards people who have strong personalities.
What separates Ratigan from the pack is his commanding knowledge about the stock market and economics, which he gained in his years at Bloomberg and CNBC. The financial angle is ever-present these days in politics. Ratigan understands the relationship between the markets and the White House.
Ratigan is always thinking ahead. As he was leaving CNBC in 2009, he told me, while we sipped cups of on coffee in his apartment in lower Manhattan, that he was strongly considering writing a book for children about the economy. (Pssst, I'm still waiting to see that volume, though Ratigan did write a book since then, for adults, about how the world works.)
A few years ago, NBC was pondering who would take Conan O'Brien's place at 12:35 a.m. Ratigan told me, in total seriousness, that he wanted to succeed O'Brien. Ratigan, a bundle of restless energy, had total confidence that he could make the leap to entertainment.
It is believed that Ratigan's last show will take place on June 22. He was always willing to take on the most sensitive business and political issues of the day.
Trust me, Ratigan always thinks big. I should know -- I sat next to him at Bloomberg News for a while in the late 1990s, before I resigned and joined MarketWatch in 1999.
What always struck me about Dylan was his enormous sense of ambition, tenacious work ethic and fearlessness. When he was breaking in on Bloomberg's stock market reporting team, Ratigan got into the habit of taking a tape-recorder with him when he interviewed Wall Street traders. He would then force older journalists in the newsroom -- me included -- to listen to his conversations. He wouldn't let us walk away until we had thoroughly critiqued his work.
As I recall, I told him not to dominate the interview so much -- showed you how much I knew. One of Ratigan's trademarks is now his rat-a-tat-tat delivery.
Ratigan made his mark at Bloomberg as a successful mergers-and-acquisitions reporter for the wire. Up to that point, nobody at Bloomberg had cracked the M&A code and gotten a steady diet of scoops about big deals.
What will Ratigan do next?
He is a born crusader. That's why we may eventually see Ratigan try to launch a career in politics.
But I also find it difficult to believe that Ratigan can somehow resist TV's siren call. Anyone who has had gained a following finds that a good deal of his or her identity is wrapped up in an on-air persona. You love the adulation.
Further, when you are the host of your own TV show, like Ratigan, you wield a tremendous amount of influence on the public. You decide what the viewers will see and hear. You can project your beliefs onto the folks watching at home. Next to holding a political office, it's probably the most seductive job imaginable for people who want to air their points of view.
If you're a fan of Ratigan, don't be too disappointed by his exit here. I suspect that we haven't seen the last of him yet on TV.
MEDIA WEB QUESTION OF THE DAY: What would you like to see Dylan Ratigan do next?
What do you think? Feel free to post your comment below.