He is on TV almost every day but don't call him a star, a newscaster or even a journalist. Randy Cost is a broker who just happens to report financial news for WWBT Channel 12, the NBC affiliate in Richmond, Va.
The senior vice president at Morgan Keegan & Co. must be doing a good job. He's been the station's business analyst for almost 10 years.
The Richmond Times Dispatch praised him for his "no-nonsense, straightforward financial analysis." And in December 1999, the newspaper's readers voted him "the best financial adviser" in Richmond.
Cost says his secret to broadcasting success is simplicity. "I have a fourth-grade mind," he says. "By that I mean I take complex topics and make them so I can understand. I boil issues down to their simplest components."
His celebrity has good - and bad - effects on business. "I may get some clients because they like my views, but I've lost a few because of my strong views, too," Cost says. "I'm very pro-business.
I believe management runs a company to further the interests of shareholders. In one story, some employees went on strike over 16 cents. I said the strikers' actions were `beyond ridiculous.' Things like that upset some people."
Regardless of his clients' reactions, working in television has made Cost a better broker. "I'm more disciplined," he says.
"It has made me more aware of what is going on."
Truth be told, Cost stumbled into the TV job. "The NBC affiliate here put out a casting call and visited the bigger firms to let it be known that they were looking for someone to do business news on the early morning telecast."
He answered the call.
Cost still figures that the notoriety will wear off. He says, "I'm stunned anybody is watching" his five- to six-minute financial news report at 6:40 a.m. every day.
After his morning newscast, he's off to Morgan Keegan to serve his 725 clients. But he goes back to the station after work twice a week. Cost is so popular he does segments on WWBT's 5:30 p.m. newscast on Mondays and Thursdays.
"I was a rank amateur when I started," Cost says. "If the show is any good at all, it's a testament to the people at Channel 12. Their co-anchors are the greatest."
Cost views his TV gig as a public service, yet it cuts short family time with his wife Connie and 11-year-old son McGhee. "My wife is very supportive, but I'm ripped at 7 p.m.," he says.
Cost is not interested in moving onto greener pastures at the "Nightly Business Report" or joining Neil Cavuto at Fox News.
"They couldn't pay me enough to leave," he says. "My roots are here in Richmond and my family is No. 1. We're involved in this community and plan to say here."