Listen

Ned Wharton

Ned Wharton is a senior producer and music director for Weekend Edition.

At Weekend Edition, Wharton helps to supervise music continuity for the show, keeps tabs on what's new and noteworthy in the music world and produces many of the artist features heard on the program. The highlight of Wharton's role at NPR is the chance to meet—in person or over a satellite link—some of his musical idols, including Brian Eno, Joni Mitchell, Richard Thompson, Laurie Anderson, and Peter Gabriel and the opportunity to spark the careers of lesser-known musicians, like surf-noir band Big Lazy or the terrific Maine singer/songwriter Carol Noonan.

Wharton's work for Weekend Edition includes production of sound-rich news features. As a field producer, he traveled with former Weekend Edition Sunday host Liane Hansen to Egypt for a series of pieces on climate change. They also reported from Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and covered the economy and culture of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

For Weekend Edition Saturday, Wharton took to the sky with host Scott Simon and combat veterans in vintage jets for a feature on the Wounded Warrior program. Wharton produced several of Simon's signature music chats with Baltimore Symphony Music Director Marin Alsop.

Wharton joined NPR in 1989 to work as an arts editor/producer for the daily classical music program Performance Today.

Before coming to NPR, Wharton worked at NPR Member Station WNYC in New York, where he hosted the music program Mixdown and chamber music concert broadcasts from the Frick Collection, produced music features, and filled in on various and sundry classical shifts. Earlier in his career, Wharton spent a year in Paris hosting and producing "New Directions in Europe," a 13-part series highlighting new music activity in France, Germany, and Italy.

Outside of radio, Wharton has worked as a record producer. His credits include the album gListen by the New York-band Songs from a Random House (Bar/None Records) and I Heard It on NPR: Singers, Songs & Sessions, a collection of live performances recorded in NPR's Studio 4A. He served as a panelist at the South by Southwest music festival and at the NON-COMMvention, a radio and music industry gathering.

Wharton remains loyal to his North Dakota roots, serving on the Board of Trustees at the International Music Camp at the Peace Garden on the Canadian border.

Wharton's radio career began at his college station, KFJM in Grand Forks, North Dakota. He graduated with a degree in speech and an emphasis in radio and minors in music and French.

Harry Nilsson's concept album The Point turns fifty this year; to celebrate, the 1971 animated film adapted from the music will be released digitally and on BluRay for the first time. Nilsson, a beloved if occasionally overlooked writer of late 1960s pop hits, died in 1994, but his strange and endearing fairy tale album still resonates with those that remember it.

James Taylor has been a household name for a long time now. Taylor was just 20-years-old when he released his self-titled debut in 1968; in the half century since then, he has sold over 100 million albums and cemented his status as one of the most successful American singer-songwriters.

Olivier Latry, one of the chief organists at Notre Dame Cathedral, was the last artist to record on the famous instrument before the catastrophic fire on April 15 that damaged the church and caused its spire to collapse. This pipe organ is the largest in France and dates back centuries. Though it was spared from the flames, it will still require extensive renovation.

In 1986, Bruce Hornsby became famous for his single "The Way It Is." But since then, he has embraced the constant evolution of his musical style throughout his career, experimenting with jazz, classical and even country. Never the same kind of musician, Hornsby has jammed on the accordion with the Grateful Dead and composed movie soundtracks for Spike Lee.

Back in 1967, Bobbie Gentry sang a haunting ode to young love and sad endings in the deep South called "Ode to Billie Joe." That song, about a mysterious occurrence on the Tallahatchie Bridge, was the No. 1 song in America for several weeks. A year later, Gentry released a country-rock opera, The Delta Sweete. It hardly sold at all — but has since become a favorite of collectors and musicians.

Every piece of music produced is a roll of dice for success, but sometimes, the stars just align. The music of George and Ira Gershwin, two of the greatest American songwriters of all time, have been given new life once again by two of the greatest jazz artists of all time, Diana Krall and Tony Bennett.

It all started with a tweet from Phil Collins.

In a now-viral post from earlier this month, the musician suggested people cue up his song "In the Air Tonight" so the iconic drum fill rings out at midnight on New Year's Eve.

In true 2017 fashion, the tweet lead to a meme, and the Twitterverse lit up with other ideas for climactic musical moments to ring in the new year.