Stuart Varney is a busy man—and he’s about to get even busier. Varney anchors host of Fox Business Network’s market opening program, Varney & Company, a fixture of the network’s programming that’s often the highest-rated financial program on cable. But starting today, Varney takes on part of FBN’s prime time lineup as well, with the debut of American Built with Stuart Varney, which focuses on architects, engineers and historians and the iconic projects they created, like the Hoover Dam and the Hubble Space Telescope.
“When I first came to America, and this is a long, long time ago…almost 50 years ago…lot a lot of Europeans I was just astonished by the sheer size of the place. I mean, America is a continent, it is gigantic,” Varney told me last week. “Europe by contrast, is tiny. And England, I think, it fits twice into New York State. So the first thing you realize when you get here is how big this place is.”
Listen to my full podcast conversation with Stuart Varney here:
Varney says he was inspired by the visionaries who saw the size and scale of America and set out to build coast-to-coast railroads, skyscrapers and other projects that were audaciously bold. “That’s what led us to American Built, because it’s not a history show,” Varney said. “It’s a story of brilliant engineering, opening up a continent, and bringing perseverance, risk and innovation to the engineering marketplace, so to speak.”
The show is also something new for Varney, whose role on Varney & Company—as he puts it—is “rock and roll TV”—a largely unscripted and unpredictable three hours with breaking news coverage, live interviews and in-studio conversations. For American Built, Varney gets to spend time crafting a story. “You can work on the script a little bit longer, you can match the video a little bit better, you can tell the story and take a little time…you can hone the product.”
Varney says at 73, he still enjoys the rush of live television, and the opportunity with the new show to flex an entirely different set of storytelling muscles. “I love what I do,” he told me. “I think it’s a privilege to be able to sit at Fox as an obvious foreigner, even though I am an American citizen, it’s an honor to be able to sit there and tell America what’s going on…I mean that’s the remarkable thing about America, isn’t it? Where else in the world could a guy with an obviously foreign accent tell the locals what’s going on in your society?”
And yet even after all these years, as one of the most familiar faces in business television, Varney says he has people see him on the streets of New York City and express surprise that he’s there. “To this day, people will think that I live in London and I’m broadcasting from London.”
And sometimes, yes, they ask him to say one particular thing in person. “They’re surprised to see me on the streets of New York and they still come up to me and say ‘say it, say Bond, James Bond.’”