Brian Williams
TV journalist, anchorman
Born: May 5, 1959, in Ridgewood, New Jersey
Grew up in: Middletown, New Jersey
New Jersey Hall of Fame, Class of 2014: Arts & Letters

In a 28-year career as a correspondent and anchor at NBC News, Brian Williams personally covered some of the biggest stories of his time, including at least one he would just as soon forget.

A self-avowed Jersey boy, Williams spent his earliest years living in upstate New York. His family moved to Middletown, New Jersey, in time for middle school; he later attended Mater Dei High School, a Roman Catholic school in the New Monmouth section of Middletown. During his high school years, Williams got a taste of journalism as an editor at the school newspaper, and also served as a volunteer firefighter in Middletown.

Williams attended Brookdale Community College, Catholic University, and George Washington University, but, to his lifelong regret, never got a degree. He landed his first broadcast job at KOAM-TV in Pittsburg, Kansas. Next up were jobs at WTTG, an independent TV station in Washington, D.C.; and WCAU, a CBS affiliate in Philadelphia. By 1987, he was broadcasting for CBS in New York.

In 1993, Williams made the move to NBC, where he initially anchored the national “Saturday Nightly News” and served as chief Washington, D.C., correspondent. Within a few years, he was anchoring daily news program for MSNBC and CNBC, and frequently substituting for Tom Brokaw as anchor of the network’s flagship news program, “NBC Nightly News.”

Williams succeeded the retiring Brokaw as anchor and managing editor of “NBC Nightly News” in December 2004. By the following summer, his on-the-scene reports from New Orleans in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina cemented his reputation as a dynamic journalist. In his reports, Williams pulled no punches, calling attention to the slow pace of the local and federal response to the disaster. NBC received numerous national awards in recognition of its Katrina reporting.

In subsequent years, Williams received 12 Emmy Awards for his news reporting and documentary work and “NBC Nightly News” consistently won the ratings race against its network competition. As anchor, Williams covered seven presidential elections and reported “from Bergen to Baghdad,” as he said in his New Jersey Hall of Fame induction speech.

Unfortunately, Williams blemished his credibility when he misrepresented an incident that took place during the Iraq War. In 2015, some 12 years after he had reported from the war zone, Williams claimed on air that he had been in a military helicopter when it was forced down by a rocket-propelled grenade. That proved to be an exaggeration; when the truth came to light, NBC suspended Williams for six months. Eventually, Williams was reassigned to MSNBC, where in 2016 he re-emerged as host of “The 11th Hour.” He helmed the nightly political news program until his departure from NBC in 2021.

Thanks to his big personality, Williams made numerous high-visibility appearances throughout his NBC career on such programs as “Saturday Night Live” (he hosted an episode in 2007), “Sesame Street,” and the sitcom “30 Rock.” He also made guest appearances on late-night shows hosted by Jimmy Fallon, David Letterman, and Conan O’Brien. Longtime friend Bruce Springsteen ushered Williams into the New Jersey Hall of Fame with an amusing and heartfelt induction speech in 2014.

Intro/Acceptance Video