Phil Harrell

Phil Harrell is a senior producer with All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine. He has been at NPR since 1999.

At NPR, Harrell has worked on a variety of shows and produced a little bit of everything—from politics to pop music. Most memorably, he worked through the nights after the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster and after the death of President Ronald Reagan, producing mini-documentaries about each story for Weekend Edition.

Harrell got his start in radio as a rock 'n' roll DJ/program director at progressive WRNR in Annapolis, MD. He later co-created the Bob Edwards Show for XM and Bob Edwards Weekend for PRI.

Harrell has won numerous awards for his excellence in production. In 2006 and 2011, he led the teams that claimed the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Radio Broadcast Award. In addition, he won the Gabriel Award in both 2012 and 2014 with hosts Guy Raz and Arun Rath.

A native of Maryland, Harrell is a graduate of the University of Maryland-College Park.

Highlights from Phil Harrell:

Lowlights from Phil Harrell:

  • He almost killed Clint Eastwood by losing his balance and collapsing into him
  • He almost capsized a kayak paddled by NPR's Brian Naylor
  • He almost lost a recording that represented an entire day's worth of reporting in South Dakota

The Super Bowl halftime show is arguably as big a spectacle as the actual game. And back in 2015, it launched an unwitting star.

Katy Perry was the halftime artist, but one of her dancers stole the spotlight. During her performance of the song "Teenage Dream," she was flanked onstage by two dancers dressed in enormous blue shark costumes. The one on the right seemed to dance in sync; the one on the other side flailed as if he'd been encased in that costume against his will.

"Left Shark" became an instant sensation.

In 1946, Nat King Cole became the first recording artist to wrap his lush vocals around what would become a standard of the holiday season, "The Christmas Song." But that song was written by a different crooner: Mel Tormé.

NPR's Noel King spoke with Mel Tormé's youngest son, James — an accomplished jazz singer himself — to get the story behind the creation of this Christmas classic.