Walter Ray Watson Walter Ray Watson is a senior producer for NPR News.
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Stories By

Walter Ray Watson

Estafania Mitre/NPR
Headshot of Walter Ray Watson
Estafania Mitre/NPR

Walter Ray Watson

Senior Producer

Walter Ray Watson is a senior producer for NPR News.

Watson joined NPR in 1987 as a production assistant on Weekend Edition Sunday, working when the program was hosted by Susan Stamberg and later by Liane Hansen.

He is working on the music series "American Anthem." In 2018, Watson produced stories for the special series "1968: How We Got Here." Previously, he helped launch the Code Switch podcast covering race and identity.

During his tenure at Weekend Edition Sunday, he produced stories on organ donor transplants in Pittsburgh, the threatened closing of Harlem's Apollo Theatre, and countless music features — a signature of the Sunday morning program — including performance-chats with Joni Mitchell, Charles Lloyd, and Awadagin Pratt. He traveled to Topeka, Kansas, with education correspondent Claudio Sanchez to mark the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education. As a reporter, he has profiled jazz musician Jason Moran, writer Junot Diaz, dancer-choreographer Bebe Miller, and Brazilian singer Milton Nascimento.

Watson was supervising senior producer of the weekend broadcasts of All Things Considered for more than eight years. He oversaw coverage of the impeachment vote of President Clinton, the contested 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore, and Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

He's proud of his work in South Africa with NPR correspondent Renee Montagne when NPR examined that country two years after the election of Nelson Mandela. He's also worked on stories of recovery after Hurricane Katrina and the immediate impact of Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Watson won a George Foster Peabody Award in 2013 with host-correspondent Michele Norris for Norris' original storytelling project on race and identity, "The Race Card Project." He won an award the next year for best radio feature from the National Association of Black Journalists on the discovery and restoration of a rare 1913 silent feature film starring Bert Williams and a large African American cast.

Born in Louisiana, he grew up in Chicago. Before coming to NPR, he was a staff writer for The New Pittsburgh Courier, a bi-weekly African American newspaper. Watson earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Pittsburgh.

Story Archive

Friday

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg listens at news conference in New York, Feb. 7, 2023. Donald Trump has made history as the first former president to face criminal charges. Seth Wenig/AP hide caption

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Seth Wenig/AP

Alvin Bragg, Manhattan's district attorney, draws friends close and critics closer

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Monday

A look at Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg as he oversees Trump hush money trial prosecution

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Tuesday

Helping veterans cope with life after a bipolar diagnosis

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Tuesday

A photo of Dr. Roland Pattillo sits in the living room of Pat Pattillo. Lynsey Weatherspoon for NPR hide caption

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Lynsey Weatherspoon for NPR

Roland Pattillo helped keep Henrietta Lacks' story alive. It's key to his legacy

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Monday

Remembering Dr. Roland Pattillo and his quest to honor the memory of Henrietta Lacks

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Wednesday

Shafi Amani and his daughter, Yousra, 3, in Alexandria, Va., on Aug. 3, 2023. Catie Dull/NPR hide caption

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Catie Dull/NPR

How one Afghan family made the perilous journey across the U.S.-Mexico border

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Friday

Tony Bennett poses while signing an autograph in 1988. Bernt Claesson/Pressens Bild/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Bernt Claesson/Pressens Bild/AFP via Getty Images

Tony Bennett, king of the American Songbook, dead at 96

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Thursday

Saturday

Ricaltini's Restaurant damaged by Hurricane Ian in Englewood, Fla. on October 6, 2022. Saul Martinez/for NPR hide caption

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Saul Martinez/for NPR

More than a week after Hurricane Ian, the shock of what's ahead settles in for people

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Sunday

Jarvis Jones and John Knight help distribute free bottled water at the Sykes Park Community Center in Jackson, Mississippi. Leslie Gamboni for NPR hide caption

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Leslie Gamboni for NPR

Avoiding the tap water in Jackson, Miss., has been a way of life for decades

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Tuesday

Tintype of a Civil War soldier, 1861 - 1865 Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift from the Liljenquist Family Collection hide caption

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Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift from the Liljenquist Family Collection

Saturday

Remembering Sidney Poitier

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Friday

Sidney Poitier won his first Oscar in 1964 for his role as Homer, the reluctant handyman in Lilies of the Field. The Kobal Collection hide caption

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The Kobal Collection

Sir, we loved you: Sidney Poitier dies at 94

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Saturday

Monday

Monday

A National Guard soldier stands guard on an outside balcony last week at the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis, where the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd continues. Jim Mone/AP hide caption

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Jim Mone/AP

Tuesday

In this image from video, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill discusses motions before the court on Tuesday in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Court TV/AP hide caption

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Court TV/AP

Monday

Attendees at a January rally at the Mississippi Capitol in Jackson called for the state to close the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, where a number of deaths have occurred. Rogelio V. Solis/AP hide caption

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Rogelio V. Solis/AP

Friday

Jason Moran and Alicia Hall Moran think deeply about how the past is preserved and kept vital through music and culture. Dawound Bey/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Dawound Bey/Courtesy of the artist

'Two Wings: The Music Of Black America In Migration' Celebrates Journey Millions Took

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Tuesday

Jazz pianist James Francies released his debut album, Flight, in Oct. 2018. Jati Lindsay/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Jati Lindsay/Courtesy of the artist

High Velocity And Control: Jazz Pianist James Francies Takes His First 'Flight'

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Tuesday

Nina Simone onstage at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1968. David Redfern/Redferns/Getty Images hide caption

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David Redfern/Redferns/Getty Images

Nina Simone's 'Lovely, Precious Dream' For Black Children

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Wednesday

Australian silver medalist Peter Norman (left) stands on the podium as Americans Tommie Smith (center) and John Carlos raise their gloved fists in a human rights protest at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. AP hide caption

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AP

Tuesday

African-American educator and newly elected U.S. Rep. Shirley Chisholm gives the victory sign on election night 1968. Pictorial Parade/Getty Images hide caption

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Pictorial Parade/Getty Images

A Look Back On Shirley Chisholm's Historic 1968 House Victory

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Friday