Morning Routine

'Just like my 4-year-old': Willie Geist shares his morning routine

As a TODAY anchor and host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Willie Geist wakes up very, very early. Here, he shares his morning routine.

For seven years now, since I started hosting MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” I’ve been waking up in the dark. The two most common questions I get as a morning show host are, “What time do you wake up?” and “What time do you go to bed?” The general answers are “Too early” and “too late.” For you, though, I’ll be more specific about my routine.

With a premium on the little sleep available during the week, there are a few bedtime shortcuts I take. First thing is to shave the night before. It saves a few valuable minutes in the morning and ensures there are no last-minute, gaping razor wounds on the ole mug as I walk out the door to appear on national television.

All picked out: No chance of accidentally donning a tuxedo jacket with this pre-planned outfit.

Second thing is to lay out my clothes. Yes, just like my four- and six-year-old children do. Again, it saves time, but perhaps more importantly, you don’t want to be picking out clothes in the dark at 4:30 in the morning.

The lights stay off as I tiptoe around our apartment in near pitch black conditions so as not wake up my wife and kids at such an unreasonable hour. If you don’t live in a small New York apartment as we do, you can’t fully appreciate just how easy it is to wake up the whole joint with a dropped hanger or the misstep of a hard-soled shoe. One of the handful of times I did pick out my clothes in the pre-dawn darkness, I ended up wearing a tuxedo jacket, shiny lapels and all. True story. Luckily I caught my formalwear before I went on the air. In hindsight, it would have lent an additional air of gravitas to that morning’s broadcast.

With my face cleanly shaved and my clothes laid out, I usually go to bed by about 10 p.m., depending on the night. It can be later, but unfortunately it’s rarely any earlier unless I’m completely wiped out and I physically cannot remain conscious, no matter how good the Yankee game is. The alarm then goes off around 4 a.m., at which time I spring out of bed ready for the day – and by “spring out of bed ready for the day” I mean “hit the snooze button on my alarm a couple of times before dragging myself to the shower where the drops of water mix with the tears.”

Grabbing 20 more seconds of sleep in the elevator of my building.

I take a very quick shower, mostly to wake myself up dunk-tank style, throw on those laid-out clothes (always double-checking to be sure I’m not wearing a formal dinner jacket), tip-toe to the kitchen where I grab fruit or a granola bar from my kids’ stash — literally taking food from my children’s mouths — and bolt out the door.

Pierre with NBC security greets me every morning with a smile and a handshake.

I read through our producers' notes to catch up on all the overnight news, go through the morning papers and stop by the makeup room before “Morning Joe” goes live at 6 a.m. ET.

Getting spiffed up with Barbara Vesely, the crew chief of 'Willie's Pit Crew.'

The hair and makeup artists call themselves “Willie’s Pit Crew” because they get me in and out of there in less than three minutes. I’m not big on makeup and my hair hasn’t moved since 1987 so they’re able to change the tires and fill the tank quickly before they spit me out onto the set.

Donny Deutsch with Mike Barnicle on set, minutes before 'Morning Joe.'

When I’m finished with “Morning Joe,” I take the elevator downstairs at 30 Rock and literally run across 49th Street, which separates NBC’s main building from “TODAY”’s famous Studio 1A.

Here's the view running across 49th St. between studios.

I play a quick game of real-life “Frogger” dodging cabs and bolt into the side door, ready to sit down with Natalie, Tamron, and Al for our third hour of “TODAY.”

Meet Jean-Claude, the gatekeeper to TODAY's Studio 1A.

Here's Tamron greeting me in the wings, just before 9 a.m.


We’re off the air an hour later, and then it’s time to begin all over again the 12-hour process of laying out my clothes.

What's your morning routine? Tell us!

Earlier: Wake up like Natalie! Make her daily breakfast drink