Willie Geist

Willie Geist Headshot

Personality • Journalist

Birth Date: May 3, 1975

Age: 49 years old

Birth Place: Evanston, Illinois

As the son of broadcast journalist Bill Geist, it was presupposed that Willie Geist would become a recognizable face on television. It was sports, however, that appealed to the younger Geist. The 6'4" Geist showed talent in football and basketball, but he fell short in both during college. He finally chose to follow in his father's footsteps by studying journalism, but kept his focus on sports, beginning his career editing at CNN Sports Illustrated.

In 2005, with a decade of production experience under his belt, Geist stepped away from sports and into the political news arena as a senior producer on "The Situation with Tucker Carlson" (MSNBC, 2005-08). With the firing of controversial broadcaster Don Imus in 2008, Geist became a fill-in host for MSNBC's early morning news slot. His glib, genial presentation garnered instant attention. Soon he was co-hosting "Morning Joe" (MSNBC, 2007- ) with Joe Scarborough, and launching his own series, "Way Too Early with Willie Geist" (MSNBC, 2009-2012). Geist's witty, politically liberal voice garnered fans for both shows, as well as Geist's well-trafficked blog, "Zeitgeist," and numerous books which he authored or co-authored.

His breezy amiability also made him a perfect fit for the position of third hour host on "Today" (NBC, 1952 - ) where he had first appeared as an occasional replacement for host Matt Lauer. With his affable, game-for-anything attitude and impressive journalistic credentials, Willie Geist was one of morning television's most genial and genuine personalities.

William Russell Geist was born on May 3, 1975 in Evanston, IL, the son of journalist Bill Geist and social worker Jody Geist. His little sister would grow up to be Libby Wildes, an award-winning documentary producer. Geist wanted become an athlete, and in high school captained both the football and basketball teams. In college, however, Geist discovered a talent for journalism as the editor of Vanderbilt University's student newspaper, The Vanderbilt Hustler.

Upon graduation, Geist began his professional life as an editor cutting highlight reels for CNN Sports Illustrated, a 24-hour sports news channel that launched in 1995. Geist's sports knowledge and glib on-air personality eventually won him work as a field reporter for CNNSI, where he covered such major sporting events as the Super Bowl, The Masters golf tournament, and the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament. His career on the ascendant, Geist married the girl who had been his sweetheart since sixth grade, Christina Sharkey, in May 2003.

The following year, Geist joined the short-lived sports show, "I, Max" (Fox Sports Net, 2004-05) with Max Kellerman. When that series was cancelled, Geist found work as a senior producer on "The Situation with Tucker Carlson" (MSNBC, 2005-08). Though that series would likewise be cancelled due to poor viewership, Geist continued contributing work to other NBC news programs, including "NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams" (NBC, 1995- ) and "Today" (NBC, 1952- ).

In April of 2007, Geist became the substitute co-host for MSNBC's 6 a.m. news slot after the firing of controversial TV and radio personality Don Imus. The job came none too soon for new father Geist, whose first child, daughter Lucy Geist, was born the following June. By the end of the year, Geist was also the permanent co-show of "Morning Joe" (MSNBC, 2007- ) with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. A second child, son George William Geist, was born in 2009, perhaps not coincidentally in the same month that Geist premiered his own series, "Way Too Early with Willie Geist" (MSNBC, 2009-2012).

Developing his own journalistic voice - intelligent, wry, and politically liberal - Geist launched his own video blog, "Zeitgeist," on NBCNews.com and began attracting an average of two million viewers each month. In 2010, Geist's satirical "American Freakshow" hit bookstore shelves and immediately rocketed up the New York Times bestseller list. The seemingly ubiquitous Geist also held guest host duties at "Today," filling in for host Matt Lauer. In 2012, Geist announced that he would be joining "Today" on a more permanent basis as the co-host of the show's third hour. Though he would leave "Way Too Early with Willie Geist" to do so, he remained a co-host on "Morning Joe," as well as a contributor to NBC News and NBC Sports, for which he anchored the coverage of the 2012 Olympics in London.

By John Crye

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Morning Joe: The Attack on the Capitol, One Year Later

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Morning Joe Election Recap

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Sunday Sitdown With Willie Geist

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The Choice: Georgia Runoffs With Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, and Willie Geist

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The Choice Election Night With Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski and Willie Geist

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2016

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