Our new series DIY (Do It Yourself) Economy looks at people who lost their jobs in the recession then created their own job. Roger Panitch lost his job as a pharmaceutical salesman, then as an executive recruiter. He cashed in half his 401(K) retirement savings and bought a franchise– hauling junk. It's the first time he's ever been his own boss and he loves it.
KELLY: Executive Producer & Professional Juggler Twitter:@KellyFrankCNN
I grew up with Brokaw and Jennings as the journalists who shaped me, thinking Hemingway was the greatest writer who ever lived, certain I would marry George Michael and believing I could grow up and do anything. Three out of four ain't bad. For a living, I brainstorm, prod creative, wonderful minds, jump through hoops, negotiate space and time, exist in multiple places at the same time, influence and inform mass amounts of people and occasionally lose my cool. It's called Executive Producing and most days, I'm the luckiest girl on earth. So thanks for allowing me to be. I've worked for NBC and FOX along the way. My career has taken me from Columbus, Ohio to Milwaukee to Phoenix to D.C. to around the world. In a previous life, I had a mean curve ball that paid for my English degree. I'm a diehard Buckeye fan, have two ridiculously gorgeous golden retrievers who leave dog hair on everything I own, like my guacamole spicy and *may* have a minor addiction to Neil Diamond and all things Apple.
EP NOTE: I'm very proud of this show. The reason this show is what it is, is because of the team that builds it. Ali and I are so fortunate to have such talent and interesting perspectives working alongside us. As you will see by what you are about to read–they are very unique, smart & interesting in their own ways. We have fun. We hope it shows in what you see.
SARA: Producer & Fashion Guru Twitter:@SaraMcCNN
News is my passion… but coming in a close second is volunteering - especially to improve the lives of women and children. I’m originally from Texas, although I haven’t lived there since I was in college. I do make annual treks home – those wide open plains and starry skies make it a hard state to stay away from. Other true loves: traveling, reading, observing, dancing, laughing, eating chocolate ice cream, watching college football … and yes, dare I say it: the mall.
CHRISTINA: Producer & Resident Geek Twitter:@ChristinaCNN
“I have a blast working with one of the hardest working and best dressed men in TV news. And no, I’m not just saying that ‘cause he’s my boss. I am the resident science geek and space nerd on the show. I handle The Big I segment that airs Monday-Friday around 1:50pm EDT every day. Having worked & lived in Nashville, Little Rock and Orlando, I do have to say that Atlanta is my favorite city thus far. And without sounding too much like a personal ad, I love the beach, the mountains, reading, writing, but not arithmetic.”
CINTERRO: Writer & Segment Producer
When people ask me what I do at CNN, my response is that it depends on the day of the week, and it really does. I spend the first part of the week either writing or copy editing for Ali’s shows. On the weekends, I’m in the control room as the PM fonts editor. I came to CNN in September 2006, and I only recently joined Ali’s team in June. Before CNN, I worked as a line producer for more than 10 years in Atlanta, West Palm Beach, Florida and Columbus, Georgia. I graduated from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Telecommunication/Film.
JESS: Production Assistant, Segment Producer & Keeper of the World Cup Ball
I’ve grown up a Georgia peach, so it’s great to be with CNN here in Atlanta! I recently graduated from the University of Georgia, where I studied Broadcast Journalism and International Affairs. I also studied economics abroad for a while. I started out at CNN as an intern with Ali and the gang, and they have kept me on. Most days I work on the Your Money and Off the Radar segments – financial and science news. Yes, I may be the nerdiest member of the team and yes, I’m completely fine with that. I love helping tell the news to all of you! In my off time, I enjoy finding the best new mashups, singing, and traveling. I also believe that an ice cream a day keeps you happy – and, therefore, healthy. CNN won’t confirm this one for me, but that’s not stopping me.
BHASKAR: Copy Editor & Resident Heartbreaker
I’m bald, I have glasses and the ladies love me. Remind you of anyone? Yes it’s true, I’ve often been accused of being Ali’s evil twin. Hopefully that’s not my only qualification to be the Velshi team’s copy editor, a role in which I manage the writers. By manage, I mean “yell at them incessantly!” Actually, not true. I’m privileged to work with some of the best writers in the world, and I simply strive to make them just a bit better.
"GUTH": Lead Writer, Segment Producer & Political Junkie
Ronald Reagan was president, gas cost $1.20 a gallon and tween heartthrob Justin Bieber was five years away from being born when I started work at Headline News (now HLN) in January 1989. CNN was not yet nine years old; Headline News had just turned seven. I was 12. In my earlier youth I attended Northwestern University and produced local newscasts in Lexington and Louisville, Ky. I moved to CNN just before the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, and though I’ve always been, and always will be, a “writer,” the job itself has grown and changed – and grown - along with the network, the business and the world. I hope to keep growing with it.
WALT: Writer, Segment Producer & hands down-team expert on all things Afghanistan
A diehard print journalist who mysteriously ended up in TV after a brief stint on a small newspaper in east Tennessee and 11 years in Asia reporting for UPI and the Atlanta-Journal Constitution (back in the days when it was a real newspaper). Along the way, I covered wars, military coups, Cory Aquino’s People Power Revolution, political assassinations, the Pope, Charles and Diana (we exchanged pleasantries at a Tokyo reception), the madness and amazement of the Indian subcontinent, opening of China to the U.S., Orwellian North Korea (actually it’s much worse), the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan where I became known as Walter of Afghanistan after a three-week trek with my Mujahideen (Afghan freedom fighters – don’t confuse them with the Taliban),bizarre and fascinating Japan (at the time a 21 century country in the 20 century), the intrigue and freighting Burma (now ruled by thugs under the name of Myanmar), seductive and mysterious Thailand, Summerset Maugham’s Malaysia and Singapore, former British colony and world of Suzy Wong Hong Kong, romantic and gambler’s paradise Macau, the Golden Triangle, and Graham Greene’s Vietnam, especially the war ghosts of Hue and Da Nang. My advice – be adventurous and answer the call of your Wanderlust.
DENNIS a.k.a. "D-Lo": Vista Wall Producer (that's the big ol' TV screen behind Ali!)
I arrived at CNN in 1999 after 10 years of living in Hawaii. I earned my my BA in Journalism from the University of Hawaii, armed with the editorial knowledge of producing local news in the Aloha State and smelling of pineapples and coconut oil, I began my career in Atlanta as a Video Tape Editor. Cutting my fair share of voice-overs, sound bites and reporter packages – this would lay the ground work for my keen understanding of the power of pictures when telling and selling a story. Fast forward to May of 2010 where I was chosen as the Vista Wall Producer – you may know it simply as ‘The Wall.’ It is my job to hatch creative ideas on how to fill that enormous wall with video, graphics, reporter live shots, and the kitchen sink. I work closely with Ali, the Executive Producer, Line Producers, Segment Producers, and the fantastic technical staff to create wall elements the viewer can’t ignore
JASON a.k.a. "JReid": Associate Producer (also can be seen as the Ali Velshi Team Resident Basketball TV Expert during March Madness) Twitter:@JReidCNN
If I were a tree, I’d be a Redwood; namely because I’m tall and my hair bares a shade of red… or ‘burnt orange’ as it’s been called. I started at CNN almost 4 years ago as a VJ. Almost immediately I drew attention, mostly because of my height and the booming voice I used to give anchors time cues in commercial breaks. I’ve worked in various capacities since that fateful day in August of 2006: VJ, Editorial Assistant, Assignment Editor, and the title I’ve attached to various e-mails for the past year or so: Associate Producer. So what does that mean? Where there’s a camera, there’s raw video. Where there’s raw video, there’s a guy like me waiting on the ‘production line’ ready to make some sense of it and help tell the story that our expert writers carefully put together each day. Outside of the daily TV grind I’m an avid runner, coffee drinker, smiler, and part-time geek. I read just about any blog dealing with tech/gadgets and I’m certain my bank account thanks those crafty writers for keeping it active. Born and raised in the south, but unfortunately don’t have the accent to prove it (still working on that after all these years).
MICHAEL: Senior Director, Master Problem Solver, Mr. Solution and just all around Fix-It Man!
My career in Television News started here at CNN. After earning a BA in Speech Communications/Broadcasting from Penn State, and a Master's degree in Media Arts from The University of South Carolina, I was hired as a Video Journalist (see also entry level position). Today, after much hard work and luck, I am the Director of the Ali Velshi Show; the smartest show at CNN.
Senior Editorial Producer a.k.a. Master Booker! Twitter: @MarieCNN
Born and raised in the Bronx, NY-home of my favorite NY Yankees, Fordham University (my alma mater), and the other "Little Italy"-I’m a news junkie—having most likely been born with a newspaper in hand and transistor radio by my ear! I’m originally from the world of news-talk radio, spending my formative career years with the best in the business, then moving on to the world of CNN where I honed my craft during primetime at 8pm. I now have the extraordinary privilege of working with the brilliant and oh so stylish Mr. Velshi! I handle ALL things guest and editorial related for the smartest broadcast on television, and have names, numbers and ideas in all parts of my brain! I truly love my job and this outstanding, accomplished team…I get to do what I always wanted to…pretty wonderful and rare! I’m a super proud mom of the finest young man and athlete I know, and wear multiple hats at all times!!
For the past several years, I’ve been producing some of the most important stories of our time, have met newsmakers from all over the world and not a day goes by where I don’t pinch myself! My passions include travel, music, all things Sinatra and fine dining……while holding a secret wish that I will one day realize my dream of becoming either a sommelier or wine/lounge owner–— but I guess that’s not such a secret anymore!
I came to CNN 2007 and worked my way up from studio assistant, to CNN International, and then coming over to the Ali show. Before landing in Atlanta I worked at an orphanage in Lesotho, Africa. I have also spent time in the slums of Kenya working at a Mother Teresa orphanage. I have a passion for anything involving Africa and the fight against HIV/Aids! I am originally from Jacksonville, Florida, and have no idea how I ended up living without a beach in my backyard. I graduated from the University of Florida School of Journalism so I consider myself an expert in Hurricane Coverage and winning National Championships, Go Gators! In my “free time” I am working towards my Master’s in Theology. I should be done in like four more years! My role on the team includes looking for video elements, creating segments that are visually interesting, and going on wild goose chases for the best images. My favorite thing about working with the team is the desire to take a story deeper, and the shenanigans that go on behind the scenes!
Allison: Floor Director & Moonlights as Ali's Hair Stylist
Proving that great things come in small packages, Allie, or “Little Allie” as I am known by the team hails from New Jersey (Not Joisey!) and I am the Chief Velshi Wrangler, also known as floor director. Using only my bare hands (and occasionally a cattle prod when Big Ali gets feisty), I make sure the boss gets to where he needs to be with minimum light glares off his head (we call them intelligence beams) and makes sure his cup runneth over… with cough syrup. My dream was to combine my three passions; journalism, helping others, and coffee. As Kelly said before, two out of three ain’t bad. I'm still trying to find a way to break into journalism…
Chris: Writer, segment producer and occasional copy editor
My journalism career began on a whim when I was a sophomore at USC (Go Gamecocks!). I walked into the local UPI bureau to ask about a part-time job. They sat me down at a computer and said "write a story." It showed up on page A6 of the New York Times the next day. And I was hooked. My junior year, I got a second job as a TV reporter, even though I looked 12. I spent way more time chasing stories than I did in class. After graduating, I did a little creative advertising work (my real major) for a couple of months. But I missed the news, so it was on to CNN. That was 1989. My first big story was the Alaska oil spill. Then came the Gulf War, sitting in court with O.J., Sept. 11th, more wars, another oil spill, and too many other stories in between to remember. Twenty-one years later, I still can't wait for the next big one to break. And I still have a full head of hair.
Doug: Writer & Segment Producer
I bring a unique historical perspective to the team, because I'm actually several hundred years old. Though you can't tell by my young looks. This is my 10-th incarnation. In 8 of my previous "lives", I died gloriously on the field of battle. Anzio, Gallipoli, the Alamo, Bull Run, all sites of my demise. It's through those experiences that I can bring a much needed glass-half-empty take on the stories of the day. In this current "life" I have steered clear of armed conflict, though for a time I wrestled professionally under the name "Jelly Donut." If you are wondering, in "life" number 3, I was a cobbler in Amsterdam, but died from an infection caused by a wooden shoe splinter.
We're marking the start of a brand new segment broadcast simultaneously on CNN Newsroom with Ali Velshi and around the world on Quest Means Business where you will have an opportunity to choose the topics that you want discussed.
Richard Quest will be teaming up with Ali to answer your questions on topics as diverse as technology, travel, finance, commodities and even pop culture. Our first topic will be on an issue that is integral to many of our lives – wheat. Wheat you say?! YES! Wheat!
Sixty percent of the world relies on wheat as a staple part of their diet and many more consume it daily. Since mid-June, the price of wheat has surged more than 50 percent on world commodity markets, fueled by Russia's decision to ban wheat exports after crops were devastated by drought.
The price surge shows that any variance or trouble spot in a large wheat-producing country (Russia is the world's third biggest wheat exporter) can be felt all over the world.
What drives sharp rises in world grain prices? Why is wheat so important? How does a price rise impact our decision to buy a loaf of bread?
Here's your chance to ask us and have your question answered.