CNBC's Schacknow: Catching The Rats -- And The Story

Year of the Rat

Some days, a story just screams to be on television. I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes, stories get on the air just because the pictures are compelling, but this morning’s rat rampage at a New York City Taco Bell/KFC was the perfect TV story in every way.

Our New York City affiliate WNBC-TV was on the scene, well before the start of "Squawk Box." Morning assignment editor Marc Epstein saw the first report that aired, in which a multitude of rats, apparently right out of central casting, streamed out of their hiding places as if on cue. Marc then started the process of getting the video and setting up our own coverage.

This story was perfect for us, not only because of the compelling video and excellent reporting by WNBC-TV’s Adam Shapiro, but because it was most definitely a corporate story as well: Yum! Brands, you’ll no doubt recall, recently spent weeks dealing with an E.coli outbreak at Taco Bell. Adam was kind enough to do double duty by appearing on CNBC air as well as WNBC, and by the time "Squawk Box" was over, it was obvious that this story would impact Yum! Brands shares.

In case you’re wondering, we did call Yum! Brands immediately to get a response. One did come, but not until just after 10 a.m. This put us in one of those interesting situations where we knew more than the reporter on the story, at least momentarily. We’d sent CNBC’s Scott Wapner to the site to continue our coverage, but being out in the field, he had no way of immediately knowing that Yum! had finally responded. He was about to go on the air, but luckily, we had time to tell him from the control room about Yum!’s response, and he deftly incorporated it into his report. It was so smooth, you would never suspect that he’d only learned that information moments before. That is, unless some big mouth like me writes it in a blog.