Walter Ray Watson Walter Ray Watson is a senior producer for NPR News.
Walter Ray Watson, Senior Producer, NPR
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Walter Ray Watson

Kainaz Amaria/NPR
Walter Ray Watson, Senior Producer, NPR
Kainaz Amaria/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.

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Story Archive

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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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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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

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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(Clockwise from left) Drummer Tiki Fulwood, guitarist Tawl Ross, keyboardist Bernie Worrell, Billy "Bass" Nelson, and guitarist Eddie Hazel of the funk group Parliament-Funkadelic pose for a portrait in 1971. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images hide caption

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Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Ralph Sharon, who performed with Tony Bennett for over 40 years, plays in his hometown of Boulder, Colo. in 2010. Scott D. Smith/Retna/Corbis hide caption

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Scott D. Smith/Retna/Corbis

Remembering Ralph Sharon, Tony Bennett's Pianist

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Through a Lens Darkly challenges stereotypical images of African-Americans families and experiences through photography. The document airs on PBS Monday. Lyle Ashton Harris hide caption

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Lyle Ashton Harris

'Through A Lens Darkly': Black Photography Fades Up To Joy

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Scene still from Bert Williams Lime Kiln Field Day Project. Bert Williams, Walker Thompson (standing center), John Wesley Jenkins (seated right). In a concession to white audiences, Williams, the lead, wore blackface, but the other black characters did not. Museum of Modern Art hide caption

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Museum of Modern Art

Rare Silent Film With Black Cast Makes A Century-Late Debut

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Horace Silver performs for television in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1979. JazzSign/Lebrecht Music & Arts/Corbis hide caption

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JazzSign/Lebrecht Music & Arts/Corbis

Legendary Pianist Horace Silver Dies At 85

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All Washington, D.C., liquor stores were closed on Aug. 28, 1963. While Maury Landsman's parents, who owned a liquor store, stayed home that day, he was determined to participate in the march. Charles Del Vecchio/The Washington Post/Getty Images hide caption

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Charles Del Vecchio/The Washington Post/Getty Images