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

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.

Story Archive

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

toggle caption
Saul Martinez/for NPR

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

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1127511130/1127632373" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

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

toggle caption
Leslie Gamboni for NPR

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

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1120887065/1121035182" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

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

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

Remembering Sidney Poitier

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1071589638/1071589639" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

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

toggle caption
The Kobal Collection

Sir, we loved you: Sidney Poitier dies at 94

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/311902059/1071449031" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

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

toggle caption
Jim Mone/AP

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

toggle caption
Court TV/AP

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

toggle caption
Rogelio V. Solis/AP

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

toggle caption
Dawound Bey/Courtesy of the artist

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

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/726754608/726784511" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript