David Brancaccio

David Brancaccio is host and senior editor of NOW on PBS, public television's award-winning newsmagazine of investigative reporting and in-depth interviews. Among his beats: politics, human rights, national security, the environment, health care, and science policy.

In 1989, Brancaccio began contributing to the public radio program Marketplace. He was first named as the program's European editor based in London. Brancaccio became senior editor and host of Marketplace in 1993, but in 2003 left Marketplace to join Bill Moyers on NOW. Brancaccio was co-host for over a year prior to Moyers' retirement at the end of 2004.

In 2011, Brancaccio returned to Marketplace as a correspondent. He hosted the Marketplace spin-off Marketplace Index, a daily five-minute report on the day's business. In 2012, he joined the rotation of the Marketplace Morning Report.

A broadcaster for 33 years, Brancaccio also served as the long-time host of public radio's business program, "Marketplace," which won two of the top honors in broadcast journalism, the George Foster Peabody Award and the DuPont-Columbia Award. He and his team at NOW on PBS recently won an Emmy for a story on an innovative way to deliver health care in Africa and also took home the 2009 Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Coverage.

David is author of Squandering Aimlessly, a book about money and values in America, and his print work has appeared in newspapers including the Wall Street Journal, the Baltimore Sun, and Britain's The Guardian. He has appeared on CNBC, with Anderson Cooper on CNN, and with Rachel Maddow on MSNBC. David has a BA in History and African studies from Wesleyan and an MA in Journalism from Stanford.

Squandering Aimlessly

On the Road with the Host of Public Radio's "Marketplace"

Simon & Schuster, 2000

Poor, misguided fellow. David Brancaccio, host of public radio's rambunctious and eclectic business program Marketplace, used to think the big problem with money was getting some. Didn't he understand that during a time of bounty the big problem is knowing what to do with money once you have it? It took a conversation with one of the richest guys in America to set him straight.

"I think Warren Buffett's got the problem and Gates has the problem and Bloomberg's got the problem," the billionaire said. "And the problem doesn't just have to be at our level. It can be with people who have just a couple of million bucks." It was the second "just" in that sentence that made tears well up in Brancaccio's eyes.

Most of us once thought the problem was getting some money. Now what?

Squander: to spend or use something precious in a wasteful way. Squandering ranks even below "leaving it in a passbook savings account" on the list of the greatest personal finance sins of our age, according to Brancaccio, who hit the road to determine the right answer to the question of what to do with money. Brancaccio gets this question from Marketplace listeners all the time: What does one do with a lump sum, perhaps the proceeds from some stock options, the profit on the sale of a house, an inheritance, a bonus, a settlement, or even a modest accumulation in a savings account?

A natural storyteller, Brancaccio has a clear, intelligent, and delightfully offbeat way of explaining to his listeners the complexities of business, investing, and the economy. He has access to rivers of market information that should help answer this question of what to do with money. But data do not necessarily equal wisdom, so Brancaccio hit upon the idea of venturing out on a random "walk" to acquire some street smarts.

Imagining a windfall of his own and haunted by his own checkered history with money, Brancaccio embarked on a funny and irreverent personal finance pilgrimage. His travels took him from Minnesota's Mall of America to New York City's Wall Street to one of the poorest towns in the West. He encountered entrepreneurs in California, homeowners in New York, retirees in Arizona, and some folks following their lifelong dreams in Texas. A drifter in a desert offered advice. So did a U.S. secretary of the treasury.

Along the way, Brancaccio was challenged by a cascade of practical and philosophical issues: If consumption drives the economy, is there something wrong with saving? Is there such a thing as a socially responsible investment? Is charity an investment? If you can't beat a Las Vegas casino, can you beat the stock market?

While Brancaccio's journey was a personal one, his eye-opening adventures reveal a great deal about attitudes toward money in America at the dawn of the new century -- and they provide entertaining lessons about how best to spend, invest, and save.

SELECTED REVIEWS FOR
Squandering Aimlessly
On the Road with the Host of Public Radio's "Marketplace"

From Booklist January 1, 2000
Marketplace is one of public radio's most successful programs. A business program targeting non-businesspeople, its audience has grown to more than 3.35 million in slightly more than 10 years, and it is now carried on nearly 300 stations. After a stint as its London correspondent, Brancaccio has been the program's host and senior editor for six years. Admirers call the show -- and Brancaccio -- irreverent. Brancaccio himself admits to being a "wiseacre" and suggests the best thing about Marketplace is its background music. Relying on the same sensibilities that have made his show so popular, Brancaccio now ponders what he (or anyone else) would and should do when confronted with an unexpected windfall of cash. For inspiration he turns to lottery winners, and in a series of 10 trips across the U.S., he tries to duplicate the various ways they have tried to capitalize on their good fortunes. He goes on a spending spree at the Mall of America, and he considers buying a house in Levittown. Brancaccio's journeys are filled with insights both amusing and instructive.
-- David Rouse

From Kirkus Reviews
The host of Marketplace, NPRs popular program about money, travels the country, Candide-like, in search of ways to spend a relatively small sum. Finding himself with a bit of spare cash, Brancaccio, facing the same quandary as the national government, can't figure out the best way to use the unanticipated surplus. So, for more than a year, he takes a financial pilgrimage. At his first stop, the redoubtable Mall of America, he foolishly parts with some of his money for mere consumer goods. Next, in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, he attends classes in socially responsible investing. Having uncovered the unexpected pitfalls of entrepreneurship at a California "Be Your Own Boss'' expo, he makes his way to Las Vegas to learn the differences between mutual-fund investing and gambling. Partly "to scrape the Vegas'' off his heels, he next heads for a little desert town in Nevada to explore giving in the form of community service and the expenditure of social capital. Thence to Wall Street itself, where mammon and Trinity Church confront each other. Brancaccio reviews the economics of home mortgages in Levittown, New York; considers country music as a dropout way of life in a Texas school devoted to the subject; contemplates retirement to Arizona and simply stashing cash in parsimonious Seattle. Although the author is not nearly as naive as he pretends to be, his reporter's knack of soliciting advice and experience from a variety of sources works very effectively. The bottom line is a nice synthesis of America's diverse views on ready cash and what to do with it. For those who want monetary entertainment but may not crave a gnarly financial tome, Brancaccio provides some surprisingly shrewd instruction and sound financial advice, all embedded in appealing reportage. A savvy journalist, he's as conscious of karma as of cash. A smart and engaging book about money and the American ways with it.
-- Copyright ©2000, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

NOW on PBS: On Thin Ice (4:43)

April 17, 2009

This video previews the one-hour NOW special, "On Thin Ice." In it, two men go on a remarkable journey high in the Himalayas to investigate threats to global water and food supply. David Brancaccio and environmentalist Conrad Anker -- one of the world's leading high altitude climbers -- adventure to the Gangotri Glacier in the Himalayan Mountains, the source of the Ganges River, to witness the great melt and its dire consequences first-hand. The two also visit Montana's Glacier National Park to see the striking effects of global warming closer to home and learn how melting glaciers across the world can have a direct impact on food prices in the U.S. 


Wisconsin Public Television Behind the Scenes (13:04)

December 3, 2009

Award-winning journalist David Brancaccio has a long history in public media. After working on public radio's Marketplace, he joined NOW on PBS in 2003, where he has been host and reporter since Bill Moyers left the show.

We caught up with Brancaccio when he visited Madison for the Society of Environmental Journalists annual conference.

He talked with us about his impressions of today's journalism, why public media journalism matters and the importance of the upcoming Copenhagen Climate Summit. 


How Republicans Stole '04 (Part 1)

July 29, 2007

PBS's "NOW" journalist David Brancaccio investigates how Republicans stole the 2004 elections by disqualifying voters.


How Republicans Stole '04 (Part 2)

July 29, 2007

PBS's "NOW" journalist David Brancaccio investigates how Republicans stole the 2004 elections by disqualifying voters.

To contact David or learn more about his events and activities, visit his personal website.