FOX Business Network Anchor McDowell Bringing Experience, Energy, and Passion to Business News
By Yolanda A. Heiberger
In our fast-paced world, television business news has become a staple of our daily information diet. Many people regularly tune in to FOX Business Network, where anchor Dagen McDowell and her network colleagues are infusing today’s business news with palpable energy and excitement. McDowell’s intelligence, wit, and down-to-earth presence have helped her establish a connection with viewers as she relates how the financial news of the day impacts their lives. An accomplished financial journalist and native of Brookneal, Va., McDowell also brings a spark of Southern warmth and authenticity to her role as co-anchor with Stuart Varney each weekday from noon to 2 p.m. EST. McDowell can also be seen on the FOX News Channel (FNC) as a business correspondent, and she makes regular appearances on two well-known FNC business shows, “Cashin’ In” and “Your World With Neil Cavuto.”
Though she readily admits to having a passion for all things business, McDowell says her entry into financial journalism was unplanned. After graduating from Wake Forest University with a degree in art history, she spent time in Colorado working in a series of odd jobs. “Then I decided to pack up my car and move to New York City, where I only knew a couple of people,” says McDowell. She considered a variety of entry-level positions, including one with the New York City Public Library, but landed an interview with the Institutional Investor’s newsletter division, an established, long-respected publication targeted to the financial industry. It was there that she discovered her passion for finance and business. “I took a reporting test, I passed, and I was hired,” recalls McDowell. “I had never thought about a career in finance and business, but I found it both fascinating and challenging. The 3½ years I spent there as a reporter gave me the best on-the-job training I could have received. I knew I had found my calling.”
With experience and passion now firmly under her belt, McDowell went on to write for SmartMoney magazine and Smart Money.com. She also wrote a successful personal finance column for TheStreet.com called “Dear Dagen,” an opportunity that ultimately led to her career in broadcast news. “When I was with TheStreet.com, FOX News Channel asked me to appear as a guest on the show ‘Cashin’ In’ when it debuted in 2001. Then in 2003, Neil Cavuto gave me the opportunity to appear as a regular guest on his show, ‘Your World with Neil Cavuto,’” recalls McDowell. “These regular guest roles allowed me to learn about television and become acquainted with the producers at FOX.” As a result, McDowell joined FNC as a full-time business correspondent in 2003. She has served as anchor on the long-anticipated FOX Business Network since its debut in September 2007.
McDowell and her husband, MAXfunds.com co-founder Jonas Max Ferris, split their time between an apartment in New York City and a house in Connecticut. Although she has lived in New York for 14 years, McDowell maintains strong ties to her Southern roots, visiting her parents-who still live in the rural community of Brookneal, Va.-at least twice a year. And she views her Southern upbringing-and accent-as sources of pride. But this dyed-in-the-wool Southerner admits there are plenty of perks to living in the Big Apple. “I love that you can do anything at any time, day or night,” she says. “Craving warm bagels at midnight? You can find them freshly made!”
In her conversation with Southern Beauty, McDowell gives insight into her fast-paced life as a successful, high-profile television business anchor and correspondent. And she speaks about the role her Southern heritage has played in enhancing her journalistic instincts.
Southern Beauty: What do you enjoy most about your job?
Dagen McDowell: I really enjoy business and financial news because it matters to everyone. It affects just about every decision you make, from how much you’re going to spend on Christmas gifts each year, to where you choose to eat lunch, to where you’re planning to send your children to school. It has a real impact on all of our lives. Also, I feel very fortunate to be able to bring my passion about business news to my job on the air. Television allows me to do this much more than writing ever did.
SB: What do you view as the most important aspect of your career?
DM: The most important thing for me is being completely accurate with the information we present and, at the same time, getting the information out to people quickly. We’re continually pushing ourselves to be better and rethinking everything we do. In this business, if you’re comfortable, you’re not doing something right.
SB: What is a typical day like for you?
DM: I usually get up around 4 a.m. and read several newspapers and Internet articles before I go into work. We have a meeting at 8:15 a.m., and I’m on the air from noon to 2 p.m. Then, I’m in meetings the rest of the afternoon.
SB: How has being a Southerner affected your perspective as a journalist?
DM: I know Southerners to be sincere, caring, and open. They’re also great conversationalists and very sociable. I think these qualities have helped me as a journalist in interacting with a variety of people. Also, Southerners are very passionate and expressive. I try to bring that passion to what I do here.
SB: If you could give people only one piece of financial advice, what would it be?
DM: Keep it simple and keep it cheap. Don’t get caught up in too many complicated investments; a few mutual funds are fine. And watch your fees. Low-cost investments are always best.
SB: To what do you most attribute the success you’ve had as a financial journalist?
DM: Drive, hard work, and not being afraid to ask questions in order to learn something. [Sb]
Photography courtesy of 2MK Studio/Alex Kroke and Robert Milazzo