Ten years ago tonight, Brian Williams took over as anchor and managing editor of “NBC Nightly News.”
After last night’s show, the staff gathered in Studio 3B for a champagne toast and cookies. After remarks from executive producer Pat Burkey and SVP Alex Wallace, who is a a former “Nightly” EP, Williams talked about how the job “has always been about everybody else.”
The midweek anchor change — Dec. 2, 2004 was a Thursday night — came after many years of planning. Williams rode the bench, and frequently filled in for Tom Brokaw who’d been “Nightly News” anchor for 22 years.
“It is now our job from this day forward to endeavor each evening to put the finest work of this organization on the air,” said Williams, on his first night in the chair, (video after the jump). “We can do that best by working harder than anyone else, just the way Tom did for so many years.”
For the last five years, “Nightly News” has not been beaten in the ratings. The broadcast, however, has seen their A25-54 viewership — the one that matters most to advertisers — being chipped away by ABC’s “World News Tonight” and its new anchor David Muir. In the most recent week, Nov. 17, Williams’ broadcast reclaimed the top spot in that demo.
“I’m in the debt of everyone in this room and a lot of people who couldn’t be here, and it’s an extraordinary feeling,” Williams said to his team last night.
It’s a big week for Williams. His son Doug started a new job with “SportsNite” on SNY and, as he told his staff, on Thursday night, “I become the father of Peter Pan.”