As an advocacy journalist, John Stossel has a reputation as someone who shrugs the status quo in favor of getting to the heart of an issue. His time spent in local news, the network news magazine 20/20 and numerous television specials has earned him nineteen Emmy Awards, the respect of viewers, and the occasional disdain of guests (most notably when he was physically assaulted on air in 1984 by professional wrestler David Schultz).
Now, at 62—an age when most men ride comfortably on the road to retirement—Stossel is making a somewhat radical change in his career. In September, it was announced that he would be leaving ABC after 28 years to anchor a show on the fairly new FOX Business Network.
It will be unlike the planned, produced, and carefully edited pieces we're used to seeing. Simply called Stossel, this new program will feature a panel of experts debating topics such as economic liberty, owning your own body, legalizing drugs, legalizing prostitution, health care, what creates prosperity, and more. All of this will be at the mercy of a unpredictable live audience.
It's a move that would be stressful to any man and one that Stossel admits wakes him up at night, worrying. So, I had to ask; Why do it?
"I have fun speaking at colleges. Students say things like, 'How can you defend business and capitalism! It's evil!' and I like answering the questions. It's a lively exchange. I thought would be fun to try on it TV."
Fun? Maybe, but if history has anything to say about it, the reporter in Stossel will inevitably find himself in stressful situations. And I imagine those moments will make for riveting television. What about after? What about when he leaves the studio after a particularly draining intellectual brawl. How will he recover from that? The same way many of us do. By exercising—which he prefers to do alone.
"No trainers. I hate being watched and told what and how many reps to do! I like going at my own pace. Fox has a gym in the building, which is great, but the TVs only play Fox shows. I find I can do aerobic stuff longer by watching things like Law and Order reruns"
Sometimes a guy needs to break away the monotony of the usual fitness regimen. Let's face it, working out can be boring. Some guys rock climb, others take up kickboxing. Stossel took up volleyball.
"I've always liked the motions of passing, setting, hitting. Mid-life, I joined the Dominican players in Central Park. When they figured out that I wasn't going away, they taught me."
He plays whenever and wherever he can. Such as popping into pickup games with players in Central Park. However, he ultimately prefers the beach.
"Sand is kinder to my old knees. Years of soccer and basketball and volleyball on the Central Park asphalt destroyed the cartilage—kids, protect your knees!"
"The big players can't jump as high on sand, so it's harder for them to pound the ball into my face. Also, two steps and a dive covers the whole court."
The insane life of television professional often makes eating healthy all but impossible. Stossel's diet is evident of that. While he has a favorite healthy food (watermelon), it was his two-a-day Dove bar habit that caught my attention. I probably won't be going to him for nutrition advice.
"Pig out late at night. Skip breakfast. Exercise a lot. I guess the first two are pretty bad advice, but that's what works for me."
Now, on to that iconic mustache. You know I had to bring it up. The thing's almost as famous as the man. It's even got a Facebook Fan Page all its own.
Readers may recall that I had recently taken part in a charity called Mustached vs. Cancer. For me, the growing of a mustache could only come from the result of a lost bet, a dare, or a charity. So I'm always curious to find out why a man would do such a torturous thing on purpose.
"I look young. That's great now, but when I was 16, it sucked. So as soon as I had enough facial hair, I grew a beard and mustache. The beard itched, so I shaved it off. When I was 30 my wife asked me to shave the mustache. When I did, she paused and said, 'Grow it back.'"
At 62, John Stossel has set himself on a new path (or at least an altered path). I wish him luck on this journey—and with his diet (seriously).
So what else do we have to look forward to from the man? I think this new program will keep him busy for a while, but if he needs ideas, I've got some.
He could always exploit the popularity of his mustache. Perhaps creating a series of children's books in which the mustache solves crimes and rights various wrongs.
He could chisel out a new athletic career by forming a professional beach volleyball seniors league, filling the asphalt courts in Central Park with sand.
How about a consulting firm that informs the public on political issues combined with knee rehab? OK, I'm not sure how that one would pan out, but there's more ideas where that came from Mr. Stossel. Give me a call, we'll chat.
Tune in to Stossel, Thursdays at 8:00 PM/ET on FOX Business Network