As the first South Asian presenter in mainstream international news for the BBC, Riz Khan caught the attention of CNN in Atlanta, Georgia in the early 1990s. The popular American channel was looking to expand its international presence by launching a fully-fledged channel specifically geared to a global audience.
Riz was headhunted by CNN in May 1993, and 11 months later, CNN International (CNN-I) launched from a new facility at the landmark CNN Center in Atlanta. Riz became a senior anchor for the channel – also its first of South Asian origin – and hosted some of the biggest breaking news stories and special events of the 1990s – including the ground-breaking, historic live coverage in 1998 of the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Riz returned annually for that coverage, making him a household name across the Middle East.
A big turning point in Riz’s career came in July of 1996, just in time for the Olympic Games in that city, when he launched his own show on CNN-I – Q&A with Riz Khan – the world’s first live, interactive daily programme for a global audience.
The huge success of Q&A led to the creation of a second daily edition – Q&A Asia – aimed at also giving viewers in Asian countries a chance to interact live with newsmakers, celebrities, and other key figures from politics, business, entertainment, sport, and the arts.
The Q&A brand became synonymous with Riz and continued to thrive until Riz left CNN International in May of 2001 in order to further diversify his range of work experience.