Bill Geist was born in Champaign, Illinois, and graduated from Champaign Central High School. He served in the United States Army as a combat photographer with the First Infantry Division in Vietnam. He attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, graduating with a BA Communications (1968), and the University of Missouri, graduating with an MA in Communications (1971). He later returned to the University of Illinois, giving the speech at the 2005 commencement.
Geist began his career in 1972 when he joined the Chicago Tribune's Suburban Trib subsidiary, where he worked as a reporter and columnist until 1980. From 1980 until 1987, he was a New York Times columnist; his "About New York" column appeared twice a week during this time. In August 1987, he joined CBS as a correspondent, where he contributes to CBS Evening News, 60 Minutes II and, occasionally, CBS Sports. He appears regularly on CBS Sunday Morning hosted by Charles Osgood, where he offers the Everyman's perspective on American pop culture and current events. CBS News | Bill Geist | March 6, 2003 17:38:02
Geist is the bestselling author of a number of books including:
Toward a Safe & Sane Halloween & Other Tales of Suburbia (1985)
The Zucchini Plague and Other Tales of Suburbia (1987)
City Slickers (1990)
Little League Confidential: One Coach's Completely Unauthorized Tale of Survival (1992)
Monster Trucks and Hair in a Can: Who Says American Doesn't Make Anything Anymore? (1994)
The Big Five-Oh: Facing, Fearing, and Fighting Fifty (1997)
FORE! PLAY: The Last American Male Takes Up Golf (2001)
Way Off the Road: Discovering the Peculiar Charms of Small Town America (2007)
Geist's awards include a 1992 Emmy Award for his report on the 66th anniversary of Route 66 and a 2005 Emmy Award for his report on the small Mississippi town that is home to the Viking Range Company.
He married his wife Jody in June, 1970. They live in New York City and have two children: a son, Willie Geist, who works at MSNBC as a co-host of the show Morning Joe, and a daughter, Libby Geist, who is an award-winning documentary film producer (Crazy Love, Black Magic, Ring of Fire).