The Today Shows Willie Geist on Country Life vs City Living | Serendipity

    lindsey wheat interview

    willie-the-great-2After graduating from Vanderbilt University in 1997, Willie Geist began his television career as a producer at CNN Sports Illustrated. After several years covering sports, and a stint as a producer for The Situation with Tucker Carlson, a new opportunity for Geist presented itself — this time, in front of the camera, substituting as a host on MSNBC’s Morning Joe in 2007.

    He was natural from the start, with viewers immediately noticing his easy charm and relatable humor. This on-air charisma eventually landed him a permanent co-host gig on Morning Joe, along with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. Two years later, she, too, began hosting Too Soon With Willie Geist. These days, Geist is still on Morning Joe, then walks down the aisle on 30 Rock to co-host the Today show. Also a bestselling author, he has written American Freak Show and Charged. Become a Millionaire Overnight and Lose 20 Pounds in 2 Weeks or Your Money Back!, a satire of the popular self-help genre. Geist’s third book, Good Talk, Dad: The Birds and the Bees…and Other Conversations We Forgot to Have, was published in May. she co-wrote it with her father, bill geist, the award-winning special correspondent for cbs sun day morning . They talk about fatherhood, sports, childhood memories and more in a funny and touching way. The book tour has been a special moment for Geist and her father, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1992.

    geist and his wife (his high school sweetheart), christina, have a seven-year-old daughter and a five-year-old son. the family divides their time between manhattan and lewisboro, ny, where they recently bought a new house.

    Do your children watch you on television every day?

    They don’t see me on TV any day! my wife wakes up with the kids and says, “let’s say good morning to daddy!” she tells me it lasts about 10 seconds before they say “change the channel!” and she has to put on nickelodeon, or whatever cartoon she chooses that day. I think they are vaguely aware of what I do, but they don’t care one bit. which I love.

    How has the transition been to a new house and life in the country?

    We’re new to the area and have been cooped up in the city for a decade, so we’re going to let go of all this pent-up frustration outdoors. Every meal I’m at the grill making too much food for four people saying, “I’ve got steak, chicken, and burgers!” and my wife will say, “who eats all this food?” we’re just enjoying our outdoor space and backyard, barbecuing, watching the kids jump in the pool. we’re doing what I think a lot of families do in the summer: swimming, fishing, hanging out together. that is much more difficult to do in the city. westchester makes it easy and charming.

    What are your favorite summer activities?

    1. riding a bike in the park by the river. my daughter turned seven and just learned to ride on two wheels.

    2. go to a Yankees game during the day, like on a Wednesday afternoon.

    3. we have a small roof terrace in our building [in the city]. My wife, our two children and I go there on weekdays, early when there is a nice breeze. we carry a picnic basket in the elevator and have a picnic on our roof.

    4. we have our new york state fishing licenses! So when we’re in Westchester, I take the kids fishing. there’s a great tackle shop on route 35, cross river bait & address, and they are amazing there. we go there and buy worms and the basics and just sit on the edge of the pond and cast a line.

    5. Oh, and we really like going to the hardware store! I’m not going to lie to you.

    So you’re playing with the new house?

    exactly. again, it’s a question of [country] versus city. as in stop & buy, for example, my children did not know what to do with themselves. They were like, “what is this place?” it’s just a grocery store but they are used to the city where there are two aisles and you have to shuffle through all of them. they’re dancing down the aisles here.

    It’s like that for me, but with the hardware store. It’s like a candy store when you have a new house: you imagine doing all these great projects. Like, I’m going to need that drill for when I get the barn ready or… probably something else I’m never going to do.

    You always look confident and cheerful on TV; You have said that this is something natural for you. Have you ever been impressed by someone?

    my house was a huge rolling stone house growing up. my parents love stones, my uncles loved them. so those guys, they were gods. a few months ago i had the opportunity to interview mick jagger in mississippi, where she was filming. he’s the executive producer of the james brown biopic, so i have to go on set and meet him.

    I didn’t know what was going to happen when I met him. would I be in panic mode because this guy is one of my heroes? Or would it be like seeing an old friend? you’re sitting in a chair with mick jagger three feet away from you, and he’s going to sit and talk to you and listen to your questions, i mean, that’s great! oddly enough, and I think it was just because I know so much about him, I felt totally comfortable with him.

    willie-the-great-3What other TV show hosts do you admire?

    well, honestly, this may sound like homerism, but I really admire matt [lauer]. I always have. He is so good at what he does and I learn a lot from watching him. I sit in my office and I watch how he handles segments and how he interviews people, and I study it, for sure. the same with brian williams, i watch him a lot. and i had the opportunity to co-host morning joe on msnbc with joe scarborough and mika brzezinski. I don’t need to drop 30 rock to learn what it’s like to be a really good broadcaster. it’s great to be on set with people I really admire and hang out with them.

    do you think you have more anonymity in the city or in westchester?

    new york city people are great. what I love about them is that they are so nonchalant about everything. i don’t know what it’s like in los angeles, i’ve never lived there, but in new york everyone pretends not to see you. I take the subway home from work every day, and the guy sitting on the opposite bench takes the newspaper from him and just nods his head in acknowledgment, like “I know who you are, tough guy.” i love that i think westchester is like that too. people just say “hello” in a nice way. feels small town. listen, i’m not brad pitt, anonymity is not an issue for me, i don’t travel with a bunch of bodyguards. I love to go out and people are friendly in both places.

    You are no stranger to morning television. your show too early with willie geist was at 5:30 a.m.

    I know! I woke up at about 3 o’clock. and now, I wake up a little later, like 4:30 a.m. m. I do morning joe, which starts at 6am. m., and then I run and do the today program. It’s still early days, but it’s a bit more civilized.

    What is the biggest trip you have taken for the show today so far?

    this year, i would say sochi, russia, for the olympics. I probably never would have gone on my own if it wasn’t for this amazing job that I’m privileged to have. you know, I got to go there with my friends, my co-hosts and my producers, and we had a great time. they are all in the same hotel for three weeks, go out, do their work, see the country a bit; I’d say that was probably for the best.

    Does covering the Olympics fill the void of covering sports like you did when you were with cnn sports illustrated and fox sports net?

    You know, I think so. I love sports, that’s how I started my career, as a producer. but I think what I’ve realized being in the news now for almost 10 years is that I love sports more as a fan than as an employee. when you work in sports, it’s a job. there is no cheering in the press box. there is cheering in the stands. I loved it, but it took some of the joy out of it.

    The good thing about working for nbc is that we have the olympics until the end of time, which means you get to go to the olympics every two years.

    With your busy schedules, do you and your wife have time for date nights?

    We try to date at least once a week, but usually more. you know, we love our children, but it’s important to spend time without them. We don’t usually go to the movies because my wife says that if we have two hours we shouldn’t sit in a dark movie theater and not talk to each other. so we usually get together with friends and go out to eat. we are still learning about some of the places in westchester.

    Are you a techie? Do you have a favorite device?

    You know, my whole world is on my iPhone. but I am known in my family to be frustrated by technology. I have no patience for the printer that doesn’t work, it never works, it’s always connected to the printer three floors above you. still, my wife would probably say I’ll take my phone to my deathbed.

    What advice would you give someone looking to get into broadcasting?

    Volunteer to do anything from the start. even if you are away from work. say, “I’ll go for a run and do that. just be open to doing anything. If you’re working in television, don’t walk in on your first day and announce your plans to be on television. because that’s what everyone wants to do. just work hard for a while, prove yourself to everyone around you and they will see that you work hard. At that point, once you have established trust, you can start asking questions like “what do you think I should be doing? I’m thinking of going on the air.” some people walk in and you ask, “what do you want to do?” and they just say, “I want to be on TV.” so you know they’re just there to get ahead of you, they’re not there to invest in what you’re doing. I think it’s good to be ambitious, but first work hard at your job.

    then I suggest you practice writing. writing is a gift that can get you through a lot. I think being a good writer is key to everything in this business. if you can write, you can be self-sufficient and you can always create your own content and speak with your voice, and you won’t always depend on other people to get your message.

    willie-the-great-4Your father, CBS Correspondent Bill Geist, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and you’ve been very active with non-profits that raise awareness and funds to fight the disease.

    My father was diagnosed 22 years ago, but he made it public two years ago on the cbs sunday morning show. he was weird, because the first 10 years he had it, he didn’t tell me or my little sister. there were no outward signs, so we didn’t know something was wrong. we thought he was slowing down a bit, but we said, “well, I guess dad is getting a little older.” in hindsight we should have asked more questions, but we didn’t because we were young. he’s the kind of person who doesn’t want people to worry about him or feel sorry for him. he did not want to be known as “the sick one”. The funny thing is, by the time he told everyone, that he’s 20 years old at the time, everyone knew. everyone on TV could see it, and all of our family friends knew about it. It was time. he just needed to break that tension and not make it difficult and awkward for people, and I think he’s glad he did, because he received a lot of love and support, not only from his friends and family, but also from all the viewers of his show. /p>

    You two are very close. Has your relationship changed since you became a father?

    His diagnosis didn’t change how I feel about my own children, it’s more of a good lesson for them that things happen, and people you know and love get sick, and you join them and love them. My dad gets up every day and goes to work despite having Parkinson’s. he gets on a plane and flies to cover a story and appears on television. I think that is a good message for children, that they see that things will come in life, and what matters is how you handle them.

    Has he been with you on the book tour? Do you travel together?

    He has been there every step of the way. We didn’t really know how to go in because you have good days and bad days with Parkinson’s, but he’s been on fire, he’s funny and charming and himself, he’s been his best self. I honestly don’t know how he’s doing it. I mean, I’m exhausted. you go out, you do these events, you come home late, I get up early and go to work, so I don’t really know how he’s doing it, but man, he’s doing it.

    What are some of the things you have to do for the summer?

    We just bought this little 12 foot rowboat called a jon boat. I’m going to take the kids fishing. nothing fancy, you paddle out on one of the reservoirs in westchester and sit in a boat, eat a sandwich, have a drink. you catch fish maybe you don’t fish. but it will be fun.

    oh, and my wife and I are going to see jay-z and beyoncé on tour. I have to do that! and I think drinking a lot of bourbon in the backyard will be a high priority.

    Related articles



    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here

    Share article

    Latest articles