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 2018, the audiobook version of 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 her book, Word Warrior: Richard Durham, Radio, and Freedom.
African American History and Culture
Development/Trends in Audio/Radio Production
Creative and Published Works
Co-Producer – BIO Podcasts, a weekly podcast series featuring interviews with authors who have recently published biographies about national and international figures, March 2019-present
Williams, Sonja D. 2018. Word Warrior: Richard Durham, Radio, and Freedom. (audiobook) Portland: Blackstone Publishing, Inc.
Williams, Sonja D. 2015. Word Warrior: Richard Durham, Radio, and Freedom. Urbana and Chicago: 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, and 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 & Judi Moore Latta. 2019. Wade in the Water: An Introduction. NPR Music.
Williams, Sonja. 2016. Destination Freedom: A Historic Radio Series about Black Life. Journal of Radio and Audio Media. Volume 23, Issue 2. 263-277. Taylor & Francis Online.
Williams, Sonja. 2016. Remembering a Public TV Drama that Delved Into Lives of Black Chicagoans. Current. (online newsletter). Washington, DC.
Williams, Sonja. 2015. Word Warrior Richard Durham: Crusading Radio Scriptwriter. Flow Journal: A Critical Forum on Media and Culture (online). University of Texas, Austin.
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.
Additional Selected Accomplishments:
JAZZ PROFILES, NPR Peabody Award-winning Series (Producer/Writer)
Howard University/School of Communications Student Council’s Distinguished Service Award 2006
JAZZ SINGERS, Smithsonian Productions Series (Associate Producer/Writer)
- 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/Writer)
- 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/Writer)
- 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
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