Home NEWS Science Another Williams Takes His Turn Before the Camera, at SNY

Another Williams Takes His Turn Before the Camera, at SNY

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“I’ll make jokes and say to him, ‘Sorry about your rating tonight; everyone is going to be watching ‘Geico SportsNite’ on SNY,’” Doug said while laughing during an interview.


“SportsNite” often goes head-to-head against some MSNBC’s “The 11th Hour,” the top-rated news show at 11 p.m. that happens to be hosted by Doug’s father, Brian Williams.

Harrison Hill/The New York Times

Unlike his father and his sister, Allison, who starred in “Girls” and “Get Out” and was swanning about in Tahiti this month with Bradley Cooper, Anderson Cooper and Diane von Furstenberg, Doug Williams has had, to date, a relatively small public following.

Despite being on television almost every day, he is not yet recognized on the street. He does not go to premiere parties or fashion shows. His postwork routine usually involves watching old episodes of “The Office,” not hitting the town.

“I like to say that I live a 30s life in my 20s,” he said. “I might be doing the Mets game on Sunday, but that means I have to watch the Mets on Saturday night.”

Though he hasn’t drawn much attention to his last name, look closely enough and the pieces fall into place: He has the deep-set eyes and square jaw of his sister, and he speaks with cadences strikingly similar to his father’s. He also shares a tendency to stretch out his left arm when behind the anchor desk. (The family calls it “the lean,” a longtime Brian Williams trademark.)

Celebrity, he insists, is not what he is chasing. It’s all about New York sports.

“I know that I’m not nearly toward the level of fame that they are,” he said. “Doesn’t bother me. It would be weird if I was considering the job and business that I’ve chosen. I enjoy being the ‘other one’ and living my own life — and figuring it out on my own.”


The Williams’s family, from left, Brian, Allison, Jane and Douglas, at a party following the premiere of HBO’s “Girls” third season in January 2014. Allison Williams starred on the show.

Charles Sykes/Invision, via Associated Press

Williams grew up in New Canaan, Conn., a baseball junkie and a Yankees fan. (He promises not to have the same affinity for the Yankees now.) He spent summer days watching “SportsCenter” on repeat, hour after hour.

After early hopes of becoming a big league pitcher failed to materialize, he set out to be a sports broadcaster. Upon graduating from Elon University in North Carolina, he got what he described as a “halfsie” job at the YES Network, another New York regional sports network. He worked for the network’s website and offered assistance if the television side needed some.

Though he would occasionally publish instant analysis of a significant sporting event on the network’s YouTube channel, he was itching to get on-air work when he received an email from an agent based in Atlanta. Williams wanted to know if the agent was credible, so he reached out to a family friend, Curt Gowdy Jr., an executive at SNY, whose daughters had played on a travel soccer team with Allison Williams when they were growing up.

Rather than provide a scouting report on the agent, Gowdy (who, as the son of the broadcaster Curt Gowdy, knows something about having a famous father) told Williams, then 23, to come in for a screen test.

“We put him through the washing machine, so to speak,” Gowdy said. “He really passed with flying colors.”


Mr. Williams watching videos with his co-workers before going on air.

Harrison Hill/The New York Times

Williams joined SNY in November 2014, and started getting some on-air work. Before long he became a regular presence on “SportsNite,” and he now also hosts an off-season talk show called “Baseball Night in New York.”

He plans on sticking with sports — news is not his thing — and SNY is not a bad place to be. The network has been a successful breeding ground of talent, including Kevin Burkhardt (now a prominent announcer at Fox Sports) and Chris Cotter (now at ESPN).

“All those nights sitting at home watching Kenny Mayne, watching ‘SportsCenter,’ listening to Joe Morgan — he was listening the entire time, he was absorbing everything,” said Brian Williams, who watches his son almost every night, on DVR, of course. “Facts, figures, styles. And he formed it all into his own.”

“He is so far ahead of where I was at his age,” he continued.

Doug Williams allowed that he was listening to someone else, too.

“I was just watching him; he was on, so I watched him for pretty much my whole life,” Doug said of his father. “There are parts about the way I do my job I’ve learned from him without realizing it.”

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