Why he’s interesting: The veteran journalist has had a storied career: an original member of Good Morning America, his resume also includes an 11-year-run as host of The Geraldo Rivera Show and various Fox News shows such as Geraldo At Large. Let’s not forget Rivera’s turns on Dancing With The Stars and Celebrity Apprentice, where he shared screen time with his friend, Donald Trump. In September, Rivera announced that he would join Newsradio WTAM 1100 to host a one-hour daily talk show, Geraldo in Cleveland, and a weekly podcast.
Presidential Approval: The afternoon prior to the 2018 midterm elections, Rivera met up with an old friend at the I-X Center — President Donald Trump. Rivera has interviewed Trump more than 30 times, once on his debut episode of Geraldo in Cleveland. “I was shocked when he ran, shocked when he won the nomination and shocked when he beat Hillary Clinton. Even though I didn’t vote for him, I knew I was going to support him if he won.”
Suburban Bliss: Rivera, wife Erica Levy and daughter Sol Liliana’s move to Levy’s hometown of Shaker Heights may have surprised some of his media friends, but the native New Yorker is already a huge fan of the city. “Erica is thriving and so is Sol, who I’m convinced is going to end up as the mayor of Shaker Heights one day.”
CLE Connection: During the Republican National Convention, Rivera, an avid sailor who docks his powerboat at the Shoreby Club, sailed from Mentor to Rocky River on the boat of former Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association president Steve Loomis. “I really fell in love with the city after that. And if it’s above 40 degrees, I ride my bicycle everywhere. I’ve seen some great neighborhoods with a lot of considerate people.”
Media Maven: While beginning his media career with a stint for New York City’s WABC-TV in 1970, Rivera enjoyed his two years at the city’s WPLJ Radio beginning in 1973.
“I was kind of known as the rock ’n’ roll Paul Harvey. Radio has an
intimacy and spontaneity you don’t always get in TV.” Rivera returned to television with his daytime talk show Geraldo and eventually landed at Fox News, where he is a senior correspondent-at-large.
Staying Power: Rivera’s career has been filled with controversy, including an infamous brawl between white supremacists and Jewish activists on a 1988 episode of Geraldo when he sustained a bloodied, broken nose. His much-hyped 1986 special The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults fizzled when the vaults revealed little more than decades-old dirt. “I love it and I hate it. It was a huge embarrassment and also my greatest commercial success. More people watched it in Chicago than the Bears winning the Super Bowl.”
On Location: With Geraldo in Cleveland, Rivera tackles national and local topics, such as the Central America migrant caravans and the death of Shaker Heights resident Aisha Fraser with his customary no-holds-barred approach. “I want to be upbeat, but not relentlessly so. There are big swaths of Cleveland where things are not great. I want to be an independent voice on issues that affect this community.”
Three and Out:
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
My dad telling me to stay in school back in Brooklyn — he told me it was the only way to move up in life.
What’s your most treasured item?
Under the glass top of my desk are all my challenge coins from military units over the last 15 years. There are hundreds of them from Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. All of them have their own stories.
What would you feed your friends if they came over for dinner?
Rice and beans — as long as I could order it from a Puerto Rican restaurant on the West Side.