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Skitch Henderson, Still the Leader of the Band

The death of late-night TV legend Johnny Carson was the end of an era. But the man who set the mood for decades of Tonight show audiences is still going strong at 87, as NPR's Liane Hansen found out during a lively interview.

Skitch Henderson led the NBC Orchestra, founded the New York Pops Orchestra, and served as bandleader for Steve Allen, Jack Paar and, of course, Johnny himself.

Henderson still keeps an office at Carnegie Hall, where he continues to oversee the New York Pops. He calls it Carnegie's musical army. And he has just received the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal from the Smithsonian Institution for his contributions to American culture.

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Liane Hansen
Liane Hansen has been the host of NPR's award-winning Weekend Edition Sunday for 20 years. She brings to her position an extensive background in broadcast journalism, including work as a radio producer, reporter, and on-air host at both the local and national level. The program has covered such breaking news stories as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the capture of Saddam Hussein, the deaths of Princess Diana and John F. Kennedy, Jr., and the Columbia shuttle tragedy. In 2004, Liane was granted an exclusive interview with former weapons inspector David Kay prior to his report on the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The show also won the James Beard award for best radio program on food for a report on SPAM.