On a quest for perfection: The CNN anchor has almost 30 years of broadcast experience and it shows.
IT TOOK only a matter of seconds after I sat down to begin my interview with Richard Quest that the CNN international business correspondent spotted an irregularity.
“You might want to remove whatever it is you have in your breast pocket because that can be seen on camera,” the renowned broadcast journalist suggested politely, his eyes fixed on the top of my light blue dress shirt.
Star2 was conducting a video interview with the 51-year-old British journalist and true enough, as I peered over my front pocket, I found a tiny piece of paper.
To say Quest has an eye for detail is an understatement. With nearly 30 years of experience in the business, he has an acute awareness of his surroundings and an unparalleled knowledge and experience as a broadcast journalist, be it in front or behind the camera.
Quest is incredibly hands-on (moments before the interview, he asked if he could be excused to put on make-up, and mind you, on his own) and well-versed in the technical aspects of a broadcast interview (contributing ideas on shots and angles to enhance our video production).
And in fielding questions, Quest’s responses were bold and to-the-point but unlike many newsmen, they were also rich in colour and personality. His gestures, too, were passionate and unbridled (at one point, even slamming his fist on the table).
What’s even more impressive, he displayed an unequaled level of professionalism, being still bright-eyed and chirpy despite having travelled to some seven to eight countries in the span of just two weeks prior to our interview.
“I think you’re born with it. I think it can’t be artificial,” he said when asked about his passion for journalism during an exclusive interview with Star2 at the Majestic Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.
Quest’s foray into broadcast journalism began in 1985 as a news trainee in BBC. The Liverpool-native worked his way up and became the North America business correspondent for the British broadcaster, bringing reports on major stock market and financial crises during his stint there.
In 2001, Quest joined CNN and branched out into news reporting, covering major news events such as the death of Yasser Arafat, the presidential elections in the United States and the royal wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, just to name a few.
Interestingly, Quest’s illustrious career in journalism got its start in law. “I had to have a career if it all went horribly wrong. My late father told me to get a decent job. He always said, ‘if you’re a journalist, you would have the best dinner party stories and the smallest car parked outside.’ And he was right,” said Quest who read law in the University of Leeds and was called to the Bar.
Today, he is one of CNN’s most recognisable faces, for the most part, thanks to his unorthodoxed approach in delivering business news. The Quest Means Business presenter breaks down the day’s business news into easy-to-understand, bite-sized portions plus injects a dash of wit and humour in the weekday programme.
But despite his wealth of experience, Quest admits he would rather sit on the sidelines when it comes to doing business on his own. “Let me make it quite clear, I could not sell water in the desert. I’m a hopeless businessman. I can tell you why this company is not doing well or why this economy is not performing well but I can’t do it myself,” he revealed candidly.
“I have huge respect for those men and women who every day put their money on the line and go into business, but I’m not one of those people.”
Quest was in town to film an upcoming episode of Business Traveller, a monthly programme that sees him visiting a different city in each episode, dishing out handy tips for business travellers.
Over the years, the CNN anchor has interviewed some of the world’s most prominent figures including the Dalai Lama, the late Margaret Thatcher and Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. Though grateful for the opportunity, Quest still harbours hope to speak to a few others before retiring.
“I’ve always wanted to interview Tom Cruise. He has a very varied, interesting life. There are questions I want to ask him. Secondly – John Travolta. He’s a pilot, I have a love for aviation and would love to discuss those issues.
“And the final one is Her Majesty The Queen. That is an interview that I will never get. She has never done an interview in all the years she has been on the throne. I don’t think she’ll invite me over for a cup of tea anytime soon for a chat,” he shared.
As CNN’s international business correspondent and the host of Business Traveller, Quest has had the opportunity to travel to countless cities in the world. So where does this travel expert prefer to pitch his tent? And where does he head to for a private getaway?
He offered: “I’m most comfortable in my hometown of London and where I live now in New York. I also love being on the beach in Spain where my mum has a little place. I love being down in Sydney in the summer and being in this part of the world (Southeast Asia). Two weeks ago I was in Moscow. I was freezing my bits off but I was having fun, too.
“So where do I like to be best? Where I lay my head at night.”
Watch the exclusive video interview on The Star's video channel, SwitchUp.TV.
Catch Richard Quest on Quest Means Business every Tuesday to Saturday at 11am, Business Traveller on the second Thursday of each month at 3.30pm and Best Of Quest on Saturdays at 7pm, all on CNN International (Astro Ch 511).