ESPN West Coast HQ Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Norby Williamson started in ESPN’s mailroom in 1985 and, by the time he left the company in 2024, he had influenced just about every aspect of the company’s rise to power, from content to business to programming to news to talent relations.

While his reputation wasn’t always sterling, depending on who you were talking to, there was no denying his impact.

Before he was ousted in early April, Williamson was the Executive Senior Vice President of Studio and Event Production, a lofty title with a ton of responsibility. The big question looming in his absence has been, who replaces him?

Whoever that person or people are, they’ll report to Burke Magnus, ESPN’s President of Content. He said in the memo announcing Williamson’s departure that “they will be conducting a full search for a new senior content executive to help lead our team.” There hasn’t been much in the way of updates since then.

Puck’s John Ourand recently discussed Norby’s potential replacements in his newsletter, speculating that they’ll look less to the mailroom and instead look for some “new blood” to bring some new ideas with them to Bristol.

Ourand posits that ESPN will want to focus on “top production executives who won’t be intimidated by its culture—perhaps a major event producer or a studio creative who is steeped in editorial.” That might mean someone like former Turner Sports president Lenny Daniels and former NBC executive producer Jim Bell.

He also zeroed in on production executives from some of ESPNs rivals, including NBC’s Molly Solomon, Fox Sports’ Brad Zager, Turner’s Scooter Vertino, NFL Network’s Charlie Yook, and Amazon’s Jared Stacy.

As for longshots and out-of-the-box possibilities, he notes CAA Sports’ Matt Kramer and David Koonin, two people very familiar with ESPN talent, as well as Amina Hussein, head of Amazon Prime Video’s U.S. sports on-air talent and development.

Bristol has worked a very specific way for decades under the leadership of people like Williamson. However, in this new era, highlighted by the arrival of and domination by Pat McAfee, ESPN needs to look for some fresh perspectives. We’ll see who gets the call.


About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to