the Times, and in pre-Internet days,
that was a chore. He got a call from a
guy who had a barber shop in the Bronx
who said there was a car in front of his
place for two days, unlocked, and the
guy was amazed that no one stole it.
This was 1980s Bronx. My dad took that
and made it into a hilarious story. It was
a nugget of trivial information, and he
made it great.
You live in Manhattan a few blocks
from your dad, who has Parkinson’s
disease. How has that a;ected your
So much of it now is based on my kids
[Lucie, 7, and George, 5]. We will
spend more time
with my dad
and mom, tak-
ing the kids out
to dinner or go-
ing to Riverside
Park or what-
ever. Frankly, he
wants to see his
grandkids and I
am just along for
What’s the most
sional lesson you
learned from your dad?
He was never a diva. It even sounds
funny comparing him to one. I think I
got his sense of humor and his general
skepticism. He has an amazing BS detector. The biggest thing I got from him is to
take your work, not yourself, seriously
Your dad wrote Little League Confidential (Dell, 1992) about coaching
you and your sister in youth sports.
What is your sports legacy today?
I can still dunk a basketball. I
recently did a piece about Michael
Jordan’s house in Chicago, which
he was trying to sell. He has a court
there, and Today had me go and put
on a Michael Jordan jersey. So I’m in
his house with his jersey on and repeating to myself, “You MUST make
this.” I did it, but I may never attempt
another dunk again. ;
GV | GV |
[ P E O P L E ] BY ROBERT STRAUSS
WILLIE GEIST AND HIS FATHER, BILL, are both journalists, but
until recently they never thought of collaborating. “We have always worked in our own lanes,” says the younger Geist, the 9 AM anchor for NBC’s
Today show. “We laugh at the same things, but never thought we wrote the same
way.” It turns out Geist and his dad, the longtime feature correspondent for CBS
News Sunday Morning and before that a New York Times columnist, had a lot to
share. Good Talk, Dad (Grand Central), which arrived in bookstores in late spring,
is a vibrant exchange between the elder Geist, 69, and his son, 39. In it, they tell
stories on each other—from teenage drinking to middle-aged angst to grandchildren envy to why they never had the obligatory birds-and-bees talk. The younger
Geist, a basketball and football star at Ridgewood High School before heading to
Vanderbilt University, took time after a Today broadcast to chat about his favorite
verbal sparring partner.
Did you always want to be in media
like your father?
My dad used to shoot some of his
pieces for CBS in our Ridgewood living room. There were cameras and
lights around, so it was like magic.
When he wasn’t in our house, he was
always doing something on some
interesting person, so, yes, I thought,
What a cool way to make a living, and
when I realized I liked to write, I
said, Well, I probably won’t be a doctor,
so why not take a shot at this thing in
What was your favorite piece your
dad wrote as you were growing up?
He had to write three times a week at
LIFE WITH FATHER:
Willie Geist, right,
and dad, Bill, tell
stories on each other
in their new book.
Q&A with WILLIE GEIST