FOX Business anchor and host of Varney & Co., Stuart Varney is well-known among Naples viewers. Varney, who was born in the United Kingdom but became a U.S. citizen in 2015, has been in television for more than 40 years. His résumé includes stints at power-hitters such as CNN, CNBC, and, since 2004, FOX. At his winter home in Naples, the father of six and grandfather of nine tunes out by relaxing by his pool and spending time with family. Here, the veteran newscaster talks broadcasting and life in Naples. —Judy Martel
NI: How did you get started in broadcast television?
Varney: I have a business background; I graduated from London School of Economics, and in the mid-1970s I was in California and happened to see an ad in the San Francisco Chronicle that read, “Wanted: entry-level newscaster.” I applied and got the job. It was for an early morning business show on a very small station [KEMO-TV] in northern California, but I got my feet wet and I found I liked it. I was there about five years when I was fortunate enough to get a call from Ted Turner, who was starting CNN. I became the first person to broadcast out of New York on the first day on the air. That’s my claim to fame.
In the beginning, did you know how successful CNN would become?
We knew right from the start that this was an extraordinary experiment that was going to work. It was the first 24-hour news channel, which gave us the space to cover topics like business in depth. From the start, the business show was a success, and it gave me my launch, I guess.
Now you’re at FOX and your show, Varney & Co., just celebrated its tenth anniversary. For three years running, it has been the top-rated market program. Why do you think it’s so successful?
The audience likes our approach. I never use jargon like P/E ratios or QE3 because I think that puts a barrier between you and your audience. I concentrate on business and economic trends; for example, how the retail industry is faring in the age of online selling, or what effect the internet has had on our economy. I think we’re a hit because we entertain as well as inform.
You’ve been in the U.S. since the mid-1970s and a citizen since 2015. What is it about this country that appeals to you?
I was traveling around the world and on the road for about four years when I came to San Francisco. As soon as I put my foot on American soil, I liked it. The people are open and friendly, and there is opportunity wherever you look. I’ve never looked back. I’m an American, here to stay. Life’s been good to me; America’s been good to me.
How long have you lived in Naples and what drew you to the area?
I’ve owned a home here for about 15 years. I like the Gulf Coast, and I rather enjoy the beaches of Naples at sunset, and it’s always a glorious sunset because it’s over the water rather than the land. I think the beach at sunset is the highlight of Naples.
Describe a perfect Naples weekend.
I would fly in on Friday afternoon and go to Mercato for dinner. Then I’d head to the beach for the sunset. The next day, I’d do very little; maybe hang out a bit by the pool and be with family. I have a daughter who lives in Naples with her husband, and three other daughters come down with their children, but my two sons—one in New Zealand and one in Australia—aren’t able to be here as often. We get together as much as we can. I don’t have many hobbies in Naples. I’m a dull sort of fellow. I don’t golf. I don’t sail. I don’t own a yacht. Unwinding, that’s what I do in Naples.