From the Editor

Drescher: TV’s Charlie Rose, at 72, is at the top of his game

jdrescher@newsobserver.comMarch 7, 2014 

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"CBS This Morning" co-hosts Norah O'Donnell, Charlie Rose and Gayle King visit the New York Stock Exchange on December 10, 2013 in New York City.

SLAVEN VLASIC — Getty Images

Four jobs? One person? Please. For most of us, that’s too exhausting to consider. But television journalist and North Carolina native Charlie Rose couldn’t be happier. Rose, who calls himself a dreamer, says he’s living his.

In an interview this week, Rose ticked off his four jobs:

1) He interviews some of the most important and interesting people in the world on “The Charlie Rose Show,” which airs each weeknight on public television.

2) He hosts “Charlie Rose: The Week,” a fast-paced, 30-minute show which airs Friday nights in most markets, also on public TV.

3) He co-anchors “CBS This Morning” each weekday with Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell.

4) He’s a correspondent with CBS’ “60 Minutes” and recently reported a piece on Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com who owns The Washington Post.

Rose, 72, grew up in Henderson, 40 miles north of Raleigh, and still owns a house there. He received undergraduate and law degrees from Duke. He has had a distinguished career and is widely considered one of the best TV interviewers in the business, if not the best.

The N.C. Press Association recently named Rose its North Carolinian of the Year. Les High, editor of The News Reporter in Whiteville and president of the Press Association, said Rose has “raised the task of interviewing to an art form.”

A little more than two years ago, when most people his age were well into retirement, Rose took on a new job with CBS’ morning show, which historically has lagged in the ratings.

“It was my kind of challenge,” Rose told me. “They had never been able at CBS to get it exactly right in the morning. … I thought this time they wanted to do it the right way. I thought the experience I had lended itself to making it work.”

TV networks face the same challenges that other mass media do. With more choices, audiences have fragmented. CBS’ evening news has 6.5 million viewers on weeknights – a little more than half of what it had 20 years ago. However, the network morning shows have held on to most of their audience.

The “CBS This Morning” team focuses on hard news and analysis. It’s still in third place, but Rose says viewership is up 25 percent since the show re-launched. He enjoys the work and is proud of the team.

When Rose went to work at CBS, he didn’t give up his shows at the Public Broadcasting Service. He has hosted “The Charlie Rose Show” since 1991. How does one mortal hold big jobs at two networks? Naps, Rose said. One in the morning and one in the afternoon keep him fresh.

Rose lives in Manhattan near Central Park. He awakes between 4 and 5 a.m. and arrives at the nearby CBS studio at 6 a.m. He’s on the air from 7 to 9 a.m. He leaves CBS by 11 a.m., exercises and has a light lunch. At 1 p.m., he heads to PBS, which also is nearby; that’s where he tapes his interview show from 5 to 7 p.m. “It’s not a boring life,” he said.

Of his interviewing style, Rose said: “I pride myself on smart questions. I pride myself on precise questions. I pride myself on making it a conversation so that you get more out of it. Too many people make the interview about them. It’s not about them. It’s about the guest.”

In the midst of our telephone interview, Rose’s phone rang. He broke away for 30 seconds, then returned. Former Vice President Dick Cheney was lined up to appear Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” Rose will be the substitute host. In his spare time.

Drescher: 919-829-4515 or jdrescher@newsobserver.com; Twitter: @john_drescher

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