ESPN's Jay Williams joins NPR to host new podcast starting in January – USA TODAY

Former Duke basketball star, NBA player and current ESPN personality Jay Williams is taking on a new role outside the sports universe: National Public Radio podcaster.
A new NPR weekly podcast, “The Limits with Jay Williams,” will premiere Jan. 4, with new episodes every Tuesday. It will examine how some of the world’s most influential people in sports, entertainment, and pop culture have succeeded in part through personal branding, sharing strategies and different life principles.
Williams will continue to co-host his daily ESPN radio show, “Keyshawn, JWill & Max.”
“This is me essentially creating a cheat sheet for people. Everyone that I am around wants to build a business in some sort of fashion these days,” Williams told USA TODAY Sports. “There is this delicate line that I have to thread and balance each and every day and think, “What’s good for my business?”
“My life is very complex. For me, in all these different facets of life I want to tap into people, who continue to scale their business while they are still trying to remain who the hell they are and that changes over time.”
Anya Grundmann, NPR’s senior vice president of programming and audience development, says the decision to bring Williams, 40, on board was simple, citing his “beautifully empathetic mind” and ability to connect with people.
Grundmann emphasized that the name “The Limits” meant that there wouldn’t be any, and she said episodes would not shy away from controversy.
What listeners won’t hear is anything remotely sounding like a sports talk or debate show.
“We feel with Jay, with his experiences, he has a huge heart, he’s smart, he knows what it means to face hard things. We are probably going to hear things we didn’t expect to hear and also things we need to hear,” Grundmann said. “We want to get the back stories of people who have taken unconventional paths, and Jay is the perfect person to do it.”
Williams maintains that he is well aware of the outside noise it creates every time he opens his mouth to offer an opinion, especially in the hot-take world of sports. But in a podcast, says he’s willing and has a chance to meet people halfway who offer different opinions and will use his unique perspective of life to breathe fresh air into a space that sorely needs it.
Among the first season’s guests of “The Limits” will be Maverick Carter, chief executive of SpringHill Entertainment, actress Gabrielle Union, media personality Charlamagne tha God and acclaimed chef Marcus Samuelsson.
“I am always coming to the table as someone who is empathetic, but do not get that conflated with someone who isn’t challenging people,” Williams said. “I do believe we can have a world with disagreement and still have a conversation, and I think that is a lost art right now.”
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Scooby Axson on Twitter @ScoobAxson.


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