Memories of Mark Haines '68

First Person - Summer 2011

Although his college buddies always thought Mark Haines (left) would end up in radio, he made a name for himself on CNBC’s Squawk Box.

Mark Haines, founding anchor of CNBC’s morning show Squawk Box and co-anchor of the network’s Squawk on the Street, died unexpectedly in May at the age of 65. Denison Magazine asked his former roommate and friend, Doug Bibby ’68, to tell us what Haines was like before he made it big.

During our senior year, we lived in a place we called the Ponderosa. We named it after the ranch from “Bonanza,” one of the most popular television shows at the time. Our Ponderosa was a little farmhouse about five miles off campus. We had to put up signs that read “To the Ponderosa,” so people could find our place. We subsisted on beer and tuna fish and potato chips. Mark loved to eat mayonnaise sandwiches.

Mark treated clothes as community property. I remember walking across campus more than once and saying, “Gosh, that looks like my shirt,” and it was my shirt. He would wear it, and wear it, and wear it, and then I wouldn’t want it back.

Mark was a disc jockey for WDUB and easily the best that we had at the college. He had a fabulous voice—we always thought he’d end up in radio.

He was a very indifferent student, shall we say. I would go off to class in the morning, and he still would be asleep. He was an infrequent participant in classes, let’s put it that way, but he was so bright, he could coast through.

My wife and I invited him to our wedding, but Mark was always moving. So the wedding invitation came back with a “return to sender” stamp on it, and I kept it. And from then on, Mark would say, “I know you didn’t invite me to the wedding!” and we’d say, “Yes we did! Yes we did!” Finally, I took the unopened wedding invitation to him, and he almost teared up. He was really moved. I said, “Look, buddy, you were invited to the wedding. You were just moving so often no one could find you.”

Mark drove this Volkswagen with probably a couple hundred thousand miles on it. One time he was on the Long Island Expressway, and the car just died. So he took the keys, and he took the plates off—in those days they didn’t have all the identification numbers— and he left the car in the middle of the expressway. That was the way he was. He was a real free spirit. He did things his own way.

He was always broke when we were at school. He had some jobs at Denison, but he never had two nickels to rub together. He was always scrounging. But he was also the life of the party. He was always this oversized personality; everybody enjoyed being near him and his stories and his laughter. He was just fun to be around.

It was initially a big surprise to me when Mark, who showed absolutely no financial acumen at all when we were students together, all of a sudden appeared on this financial news network. We all were stunned that Mark would be interviewing all these titans of industry. But he jumped in feet-first and was a superb student of the market and a superb interviewer, and he just took to it like a duck to water. What made him successful wasn’t just the fact that he had such a facile mind, but that he could really do his homework and interview these guys like a journalist would interview them, and he had such a wonderful sense of humor. He was so funny—he just loved to laugh.

Published July 2011