Most days, Betty Liu interviews financial big wigs. She pores over newspapers, writes analyses and breaks down business news on the air. As anchor of Bloomberg Television’s In the Loop with Betty Liu, which airs from 8 to 10 am, she is a leading face of serious financial news.
But on one recent morning, her main concern was Ronald. Ronald the goldfish.
Son Dylan, 6, came charging up the basement stairs to tell his mother that he thought Ronald was dead. His twin brother, Zachary, was not far behind. Ronald was quickly forgotten, though, when the boys saw they had a reporter visiting—who they could shepherd around their house, showing off the Philadelphia Eagles flags they’d picked up on a recent trip to Philadelphia to visit their grandfather, pictures from their new digital cameras, and stamps that had their names on them.
This is Liu’s life, flipping from serious financial analysis to interacting with her two sons in their house on a hill in Millburn. She takes the two roles in stride, just like the international route she took to get here.
COFFEE BREAK: Betty Liu and her sons enjoy a timeout at Rockn’ Joe Coffeehouse & Bistro in Millburn. Right: Liu offers a friendly on-air smile.
Liu was born in Hong Kong. Her family moved to the United States when she was 3 1/2 years old, and they hopscotched across the country as her father, a doctor, worked on his residency training so he could practice medicine in the United States. Her family’s first stop was the tiny town of Ogdensburg, New York.
“We were the only Chinese family, though I hear they have a Chinese restaurant now,” she jokes. She calls Philadelphia her hometown. That’s where she lived from age 12 until she graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in English.
“I had no idea about business news. I knew I wanted to be a print journalist,” she says. While interning at Philadelphia magazine, she worked at the Public Spirit, a tiny local newspaper in the Philadelphia suburbs, for six months. “It was literally a three-person newsroom,” she says with a laugh. “I learned quite a bit.”
She later became a writer for Dow Jones Newswire, a job she held for two years before moving to Hong Kong to become the Dow Jones Taiwan bureau chief—the youngest ever in Asia.
“I’d always gone back to Hong Kong, but this was the first time I went back for a job,” she says. It wouldn’t be her last stop in Asia.
When she came back to the United States to write for the Financial Times, based in Atlanta, she got calls from CNN and MSNBC to appear on air to talk about Asian financial news.
“At the time, I thought, oh my God, they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel,” she says. She’d never had any broadcast experience, but she enjoyed the change of pace and the “adrenaline rush” of doing live television.
Liu thought more seriously of transitioning to TV when she became pregnant with her twin sons. “When I came back from my maternity leave, I realized if there is a time for me to do something different, the time to do that is now.” She got her wish, though not easily. In August 2005, she was offered a job at CNBC in Asia. Her sons were barely a year old.
“It was that moment when you take it or you never go,” she says. So she took it. Her then husband and sons joined her in Hong Kong three months later.
That job lead her to Bloomberg, where she’s been anchoring In the Loop with Betty Liu since 2007. In 2009—after renting while they got the lay of the land in the Garden State—she and her second husband, an Australian news executive whom she met in Hong Kong, moved to Millburn.
“We’d always heard about how great the school system is,” she says. “It’s really a mix of people who live and work in New York but also very much a suburban family town. It’s a comfortable place to live.”
Her favorite part of the house is the kitchen, even if she doesn’t get to use it often. Her schedule is demanding with the alarm going off at 3:45 am so she can be ready to go on the air at 8.
While she agrees the hours aren’t ideal, she loves anchoring. “Being able to give people the news, the analysis they want, knowing they’re tuning into your show, it’s a great feeling,” she says.
It’s an international lifestyle for the family. Liu’s husband travels abroad for work, and she and the boys travel to spend time with him every few weeks.
“When they get on an airplane, they know the whole drill. They’re probably better than me!” she says.
And as for the Ronald emergency, upon further inspection he was found to still be alive. Conclusion: he was taking a rest from his usual watery routine.
“It’s not about trying to do everything great all at once. It’s about focusing on one thing at a time,” she says. Whether that’s financial news. Or Ronald.
To Eat: The kids love Arturo’s, the Italian eatery just near us in Maplewood. They have the best wood-fired oven pizza and pasta. Their crust is nice and crispy and a little burnt on the edges, just like my husband likes it. For big Chinese family gatherings, we eat at King Chef in Iselin on Route 1. They have great Saturday afternoon dim sum and fantastic sweet and sour ribs! You can’t miss its big, round glass tower from the highway.When I lived in Hoboken, my sister and I used to trek out to Mitsuwa in Edgewater to load up on fresh Asian food and unusual Japanese treats.
To Shop: Obviously, the Short Hills Mall is nearby, so that is where I go when I need clothes. To Shore: My father has a house (in Ocean City) so we grew up loving the Shore. The perfect day for the kids would be for us to spend the early part of the day on the beach in the water, then walk along the boardwalk for funnel cake and pizza and then hop on the rides. And of course, the saltwater taffy—can’t miss that!