THR's 35 Most Powerful People in Media
In the past decade of flux at most anchor desks, Williams, 52, has been a constant at NBC Nightly News since Tom Brokaw handed him the reins in 2004. His familiar voice gave NBC the top-rated evening news program — 9.1 million viewers in the first quarter — as broadcast news viewership grew for the first time in a decade.
“I think brands become more important as media continues to proliferate,” says Williams, a New Jersey native who went from White House intern to chief White House correspondent without completing college.
“We are the longest-established broadcast in this building, which dates back to the Depression....When the market gets weird, people go with blue-chip stocks. I think we’re a blue-chip stock.”
The building he references also is the namesake of his new primetime newsmagazine, Rock Center, which played host to the second-most-watched GOP debate of the election cycle since it launched in October. Still, ratings haven’t been great. And its move from Monday to Wednesday has it competing with TV juggernaut Modern Family.
Fortunately, with what he calls “the trifecta” — the election, the Olympics and the conventions — there’s no shortage of material for both his shows. And in the rare moments he’s not working or with family, Williams likes to be funny on Letterman, The Daily Show, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and 30 Rock.