Erin Burnett Is CNBC's Secret Weapon

Erin Burnett Is CNBC's Secret Weapon

For the coming war between CNBC and Rupert Murdoch's planned Fox Business Channel, the scrappy incumbent is grooming a secret weapon.

That weapon is a petite, blue-eyed brunette who makes her home at a cluttered desk in a cramped studio overlooking the New York Stock Exchange, where she is typically typing furiously on a laptop or asking questions by phone. Erin Burnett, 31, is a co-host on CNBC's Squawk on the Street (weekdays at 9 a.m. ET), solo anchor of Street Signs (2 p.m. ET) and a frequent guest on network shows, including NBC's Today. Since making her debut on Squawk during its relaunch in December 2005, the program is up 142% over first quarter 2006 in adults 25-54; Street Signs is up 57% in the demo.

Burnett rises every morning at 5 a.m. and hops in a car bound for the NYSE. Once there, she makes calls, checks e-mail, sets up potential guests and reads the papers--all while getting her hair blown-out and her makeup applied. "She's a natural," says Jonathan Wald, senior VP of business news for CNBC. "She's both energetic and solicitous, but she never appears fawning."

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