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452,000: Viewers in the key demo who tuned in to him at the peak of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 mania, beating long­time ratings leader The O'Reilly Factor three days in a row

Why he matters: Throughout Jeff Zucker's tumultuous first year at the helm of CNN, Cooper, who reportedly pulls in a salary of $11 million, has been the one constant and has become the face of the CNN brand. But it was the mystery of a missing jetliner that, for better or worse, turned around a ratings cold streak for the 46-year-old newsman, with his exhaustive (some might say exhausting) coverage boosting viewership by 36 percent compared with the previous year. "I certainly understand those people who say it's too much," Cooper says. "Look, as somebody who flies all the time, I think it's fascinating."

Off-hours: The lifelong resident of Manhattan, who lives in a restored 110-year-old West Village firehouse with his boyfriend of five years, bar owner Ben Maisani, says: "It just sounds lame, but I can nap pretty much anywhere at any time. As we speak here, I could be asleep in five minutes."

Proudest accomplishment this year: "We did a documentary about the Boston Marathon bombing survivor Adrianne Haslet-Davis [that aired April 8 on CNN]. I met with her at the hospital days after the bombing. She'd had part of her leg removed, and she's a dance instructor. We followed her over the course of the whole year, showing the ups and downs she's gone through."

Guiltiest pleasures: Cooper says he has rid himself of his addiction to trashy reality TV, instead streaming dramas on Netflix like The Fall, a BBC mystery starring Gillian Anderson. "But I watch The Soup and Tosh.0 and Andy Cohen's show [Watch What Happens Live]," he admits. "It keeps me abreast of a whole lot of stuff that I don't watch live."