Throughout her professional career, Sonja Williams has served as an educator as well as a multi-award winning writer and producer of features and documentaries for National Public Radio (NPR), Public Radio International (PRI), the Smithsonian Institution and local radio stations nationwide.
For three consecutive years, Williams received one of the broadcast/cable industry’s most prestigious honors, the George Foster Peabody Award for Significant and Meritorious Achievement. She was so honored for her role as a writer/producer for the NPR/Smithsonian series Wade in the Water: African American Sacred Music Traditions (1994), the NPR series Making the Music (1995) and the PRI/Smithsonian series Black Radio: Telling It like It Was (1996). In addition, Williams’ Howard University students received Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award recognition (nicknamed the “Poor People’s Pulitzer”) for their documentary special In Touch: AIDS in the African American Community (1992).
Williams holds an M.A. in broadcast management from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Her research interests include concerns about trends in mass communications as well as African American history and culture. In 2015 Williams’ biography of the life and times of Richard Durham, a pioneering African American writer and gifted television and National Radio Hall of Fame dramatist, was published. Click here for details about “Word Warrior: Richard Durham, Radio, and Freedom.”
- 1975-B.A, Communications. Columbia College Chicago.
- 1984- M.A, Communications. Ohio University.
- Mass Communications
- African American History
- African American Culture
- Development/Trends in Radio Production
- Development/Trends in Audio Production
Williams, Sonja D. 2015. Word Warrior: Richard Durham, Radio, and Freedom. Urbana, Chicago and Springfield: University of Illinois Press.
Executive Producer – Uncrowned Queens: Voices of African American Women, a 13-part radio documentary series about extraordinary African American community leaders in Buffalo and Western New York. Series aired on Buffalo, NY stations WNED and WBLK, October 2008-February 2009. Earned a 2009 “Gracie Allen” Award from the American Women in Radio and Television (AWRT) for exemplary programming for, by and about women.
Williams, Sonja. 2004. Richard Durham 1917-1984: U.S. Writer and Radio Dramatist. Encyclopedia of Radio, ed. Christopher H. Sterling, 511-514. New York and London: Fitzroy Dearborn.
_______. 2004. Soundprint: U.S. Documentary Series and Media Center. Encyclopedia of Radio, ed. Christopher H. Sterling, 1301-1302. New York and London: Fitzroy Dearborn.
Associate Producer/Writer – Jazz Singers, a 13-part Smithsonian Productions radio documentary series about the history and cultural significance of jazz signing. Hosted by singer Al Jarreau, the series aired on noncommercial stations nationwide via the Public Radio International network in 2001.
* Howard University/School of Communications Student Council’s Distinguished Service Award 2006
* JAZZ SINGERS, SMITHSONIAN PRODUCTIONS SERIES (Associate Producer)
Broadcast Education Association Faculty Production Award 2002
* Howard University/School of Communications’ Excellence Award for Outstanding Professional Achievement 1999
* Howard University/School of Communications’ Certificate of Achievement/Peabody Award Recipient for three consecutive years 1997
* BLACK RADIO: TELLING IT LIKE IT WAS RADIO, SMITHSONIAN SERIES (Associate Producer)
George Foster Peabody Award for Significant & Meritorious Achievement 1996
American Women in Radio and Television “Gracie Allen” Award 1996
Alfred I. duPont/Columbia University Silver Baton Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism 1996
National Education Association Award for the Advancement of Learning Through Broadcasting 1996
New York Festival’s International Programming Gold Award for Best Documentary Series And Best Series Narration 1996
Gabriel Award for Documentary Production 1996
International Association of Audio Visual Communicators Gold Award 1996
* MAKING THE MUSIC, NPR SERIES (Producer/Writer)
George Foster Peabody Award for Significant & Meritorious Achievement 1995
* Howard University/School of Communications
Distinguished Faculty Creative Achievement/Research Award 1995
* WADE IN THE WATER: AFRICAN AMERICAN SACRED MUSIC TRADITIONS, NPR/SMITHSONIAN SERIES (Associate Producer)
George Foster Peabody Award for Significant & Meritorious Achievement 1994
National Education Association Award for the Advancement of Learning Through Broadcasting 1994
Corporation for Public Broadcasting “Gold” Award for Documentary Excellence 1994
National Association of Black Journalists Award 1994
Lincoln University “Unity” Award for Radio Documentary 1994
Angel Award for Documentary Excellence
* ALTERNATIVES: ONE WOMAN’S FIGHT AGAINST AIDS, NPR (Producer)
American Women In Radio And Television Award 1993
CINDY Award for Documentary Production 1993
* IN TOUCH: AIDS IN THE AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY, WHUR-FM (Executive Producer)
Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award 1992
CEBA (Communications Excellence to Black Audiences) Award of Excellence 1992
National Association of Community Broadcasters Silver Reel Award 1992
Howard University/Department of Radio, TV & Film Paul Robeson Award 1991
* Howard University/School of Communications’ Distinguished Faculty Achievement/Meritorious Service Award 1992
* Howard University/School of Communications Student Council’ “Most Appreciated Faculty” Award 1992