The late violin virtuoso Isaac Stern once told us that if you can sing or play Mozart, you can do anything.
To which Trish Regan attests. “It’s so true,” she says. Regan is perhaps best known as the only female host in TV’s coveted 8 p.m./EST slot since the October debut of “Trish Regan Primetime” on Fox Business Network. But she was once a lyric coloratura — so talented that she received a contract from Bremen Theatre in Germany, a country that knows a thing or two about composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
During her student days at the New England Conservatory in Boston, she says, “I sang all the ‘-ina,’ ‘-ana’ roles” — referring to opera shorthand for Mozart’s ingénues and maids, parts that require high, light, flexible voices. So when she began anchoring “Street Smart With Trish Regan” on Bloomberg Television in 2010, she was nervous, but only briefly.
“I thought, ‘You got this.’ I didn’t have to sing, just speak — and in the English language, not Italian, French or German.”
Moreover, all the preparation that goes into classical singing — all the hours she spent as a Phillips Exeter Academy student, listening to recordings of soprano Renata Tebaldi and tenor Franco Corelli in the bedroom of her Hampton, New Hampshire, home, where she grew up the daughter of a journalist mother and a father who was an amateur jazz pianist — has brought her to this moment.
“Music taught me the importance of a work ethic and of an ensemble,” she says, a lesson she continues to apply now that she has made the shift from the afternoon to evening format. (Previously at Fox, she was the host of “The Intelligence Report With Trish Regan” at 2 p.m.)
Since “Primetime” comes on long after the stock market’s close, she says, “we take a far more macroeconomic view, looking for things fundamentally from a political and economic perspective. For example, this article will come out after the midterm elections, but how will the midterms affect the economy? The caravan (of migrants that recently made its way from Central America to the U.S. border) will have an important affect on trade with Honduras and Guatemala.”
This leads to the inevitable question about whether or not Fox’s conservative political slant determines what is essentially a business program.
“I’m my own person and I have my own views. That’s what affects me most. I’m not influenced by what some opinion provider is doing.”
Regan is fond of quoting Neil Cavuto, senior vice president, anchor and managing editor of business news for the Fox News Channel and the Fox Business Network: “We’re not red. We’re not blue. We’re green.”
Perhaps its her Yankee roots — not Yankees roots, she’s a Red Sox fan — but Regan has always had an independent streak that has enabled her to make some tough choices. One was to forgo a professional singing career.
“It was a very hard decision,” she says. “Anyone who is set on one path and life and has to make that choice knows how challenging it can be. …I worked hard at it. I was good at it. But I didn’t love it.”
As her uncle, a Connecticut economics professor, advised her, “You have to weigh your opportunity costs” — what you might’ve gained had you chosen another alternative.
Making the choice more bittersweet: Regan received the opera contract at Bremen Theatre the day she got into Columbia University, where she ultimately majored in history.
Another fork in the road would soon present itself. While at Columbia, she got a job at Goldman Sachs analyzing emerging markets in Latin America.
She filed news reports every day, which she liked — so much so that when a full-time position there was in the offing, she had other ideas in mind. She thought of her mother’s career in print journalism and her own fifth-grade reports for the Hampton Union. Regan got an internship at NBC News. She had found her path, one that would take her from CBS in 2001 to CNBC to Bloomberg Television to Fox, which she joined in 2015.
Regan is still singing, if for a smaller audience. Remembering her days performing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” particularly as Miss New Hampshire — she represented the state in the 1994 Miss America pageant — she made a recording of the National Anthem and “God Bless America” for her children, twin daughters and a son. The kids have helped inspire her to mentor women and mothers-to-be.
On girlboss.com, she recently wrote an impassioned op-ed about the need for mothers to bond with their newborns, something she regrets not doing more of. Regan took six weeks off after her daughters were born and only three after the birth of her son — not because she was pressured to cut her maternity leave short by CNBC and Bloomberg Television respectively — but because she put pressure on herself.
“What I now realize,” she wrote, “is that I was striving to prove something — to myself, to my bosses and perhaps even to my gender. As a kid I used to love wearing a T-shirt that read, ‘Anything boys can do, girls can do better.’
“But women should never be made to feel this way. We prove ourselves every day and don’t owe anyone any more proof. Women shouldn’t have to feel bad about taking time for themselves and for their families, if they choose that.”
It’s a viewpoint that Regan conveys to women — and — men on her team: Strive for a work-life balance. And she practices what she preaches. Though she misses the dinner hour with her family because of her time slot, she makes sure she has breakfast with the kids each morning and drives them to school — tag-teaming family responsibilities with her supportive husband, an investment banker, at their Fairfield County home. (“We love it here,” she says. “I don’t know why we didn’t move here sooner.”)
You might say that for Regan, it comes down to what another singer, Aretha Franklin, once sang — “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”
“I want the people I work with to know that they’re valued and I value their contribution to the world.”