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Salkin bringing Wall $treet Week to the Web

The once-celebrated Maryland Public Television-produced financial news program Wall $treet Week is back, sort of. The program, off the air since 2005, has been revived as an online-only publication focusing on long-term financial advice.

Jeff Salkin, anchor of MPT’s State Circle program, got MPT to license the name to him and enlisted the help of former Nasdaq President Alfred Berkeley and former Nasdaq Vice President Maribel Aber to provide investors with what he calls a “high-level, low-decibel source” for their financial and economic news.

Salkin said he wants to provide what he says other financial news sources neglect: long-term financial advice.

“Nothing really replaced the old Wall $treet Week television show as a high-level source for individual investors,” he said. “There’s a ton of financial news out there, so much of which is directed at the short term and day traders, but it may not be appropriate for more long-term oriented investors.”

Salkin said he thinks that although the original show sputtered after founder and host Louis Rukeyser was forced out by MPT in 2002, now is the time to bring the Wall $treet Week brand back into the financial news market.

“It’s been dark for five years now, and we think there’s an opportunity to have a fresh start with that,” he said. “So the idea is to use the same brand and have the same mission, but with new technology and new people.”

And launching solely online allows Salkin to avoid some of the pitfalls of building viewership that television shows often face.

“One of the advantages to launching online is there isn’t overnight ratings pressure,” he said. “We’re perfectly content to launch online and watch it build slowly over time. It doesn’t matter what the Neilson ratings are the first week, so we have a long-term horizon on it.”

The new Wall $treet Week relies solely on subscriptions for revenues at the moment. Although Salkin said he may consider adding advertising revenue streams later on, he’s convinced that the subscription model works for financial news.

“There’s a pay wall up, so with interviews, Part A is open to everyone, but parts B or C are behind the pay wall,” he said. “With the subscription model, the one place it’s shown to work is financial media, so obviously the Wall Street Journal has been the biggest success with that. This is a segment of the media world where the subscription model has been successful.”

Although Andrew Leckey, president of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, disagrees with Salkin’s argument that financial news lacks long-term views, he said using the Wall $treet Week brand could prove to be very successful for the new publication.

“They could have a future, provided they put forth a strong brand and a strong personality and identity going forward,” Leckey said. “That’s what made the first Wall $treet Week so successful. It’s all about branding these days.”

Leckey added Wall $treet Week could benefit from trying to plug into the same PBS audience that tuned in to the original program for three decades.

“I would guess if they have some way to connect with the PBS audience, there’d be an opportunity to get some really good viewership on their site,” he said. “But it all depends on how long people are willing to look at video online. But that’s a question for all web sites.”

Salkin said that although it’s impossible to replace Rukeyser, who died in 2006, bringing in Berkeley and Aber will provide the new Wall $treet Week with considerable credibility.

“I’m not sure there is anybody who could fill [Rukeyser’s] shoes, so we’re not trying to,” he said. “We have a kind of ensemble approach: I’ll be doing some, but [Berkeley] brings incredible depth of understanding of the financial world, and he’ll be the primary interviewer for the website. So there isn’t a host per se.”

Salkin stressed that the focus is on long-term investment.

“You can probably find other, better sources to tell you that individual investors are ill-advised if they’re trading rapidly, and we think there isn’t anything out there that talks exclusively to the long-term oriented individual investor,” he said. “CNBC has a show, I believe, called ‘Fast Money.’ Our objective is to be ‘Slow Money.’”