NPR: Stephen Thompson

Stephen Thompson is an editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he writes the advice column The Good Listener, fusses over the placement of commas and appears as a frequent panelist on the podcasts All Songs Considered and Pop Culture Happy Hour. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the weekly NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk.

In 1993, Thompson founded The Onion's entertainment section, The A.V. Club, which he edited until December 2004. In the years since, he has provided music-themed commentaries for the NPR programs Weekend Edition Sunday, All Things Considered and Morning Edition, on which he earned the distinction of becoming the first member of the NPR Music staff ever to sing on an NPR newsmagazine. (Later, the magic of AutoTune transformed him from a 12th-rate David Archuleta into a fourth-rate Cher.) Thompson's entertainment writing has also run in Paste magazine, The Washington Post and The London Guardian.

During his tenure at The Onion, Thompson edited the 2002 book The Tenacity of the Cockroach: Conversations with Entertainment's Most Enduring Outsiders (Crown) and copy-edited six best-selling comedy books. While there, he also coached The Onion's softball team to a sizzling 21-42 record, and was once outscored 72-0 in a span of 10 innings. Later in life, Thompson redeemed himself by teaming up with the small gaggle of fleet-footed twentysomethings who won the 2008 NPR Relay Race, a triumph he documents in a hard-hitting essay for the book This Is NPR: The First Forty Years (Chronicle).

A 1994 graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Thompson now lives in Silver Spring, Md., with his two children and a room full of vintage arcade machines. His hobbies include watching reality television without shame, eating Pringles until his hand has involuntarily twisted itself into a gnarled claw, using the size of his Twitter following to assess his self-worth, touting the immutable moral superiority of the Green Bay Packers and maintaining a fierce rivalry with all Midwestern states other than Wisconsin.



Mon May 9, 2011
First Listen

First Listen: Danger Mouse And Daniele Luppi, 'Rome'

Left to right: Jack White, Norah Jones, Danger Mouse (a.k.a. Brian Burton), Daniele Luppi. Rome comes out May 17.
Courtesy of the artist

The long-anticipated brainchild of producer-composer Danger Mouse and Italian composer Daniele Luppi, Rome benefits from a bit of context.

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Fri May 6, 2011
Song Of The Day

Yellow Ostrich: Echoing Drums And Distant Drones

Yellow Ostrich started out as a vehicle for the solo bedroom ramblings of Wisconsin native Alex Schaaf before blossoming into a full-fledged rock band, based in Brooklyn and draped in breathless buzz. But unlike, say, its fellow Badgers in Bon Iver — whose forthcoming album hits like a tidal wave of lush, gorgeous production — Yellow Ostrich retains its taste for the simple and stripped-down.

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Fri April 29, 2011
Monkey See

Pop Culture Happy Hour: A Long Day's Journey To Mork And Mindy's House

As readers of this blog have likely figured out by now, host Linda Holmes is currently in London, where we can only presume that she's taking tea with the Queen Mum while sporting a comically oversized hat. This means, among other things, that she's turned the writing of this particular post over to someone who's spent recent hours 1) sleeping through the royal wedding; 2) memorizing round one of last night's NFL Draft on ESPN; and 3) drinking an entire two-liter bottle of Diet Coke without so much as bothering to pour it into a glass.

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Wed April 20, 2011
All Songs Considered Blog

Crisis Averted: Lady Gaga Approves 'Weird Al' Yankovic Parody

[Note: In the interest of full disclosure, I've known "Weird Al" Yankovic for many years, and even wrote the liner notes to his 2010 compilation The Essential "Weird Al" Yankovic, for which I was paid the princely sum of zero dollars.]

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Sun April 17, 2011
First Listen

First Listen: Steve Earle, 'I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive'

Steve Earle has had a diverse and checkered career, but a few common threads run through each of his records. He champions the little guy and mocks the world's self-styled titans. He paints on a canvas called "country," but makes room for folk, rock and rootsy protest music of all stripes. And he celebrates the past — generations that inspired him, performers who influenced him — without wallowing in cheap, sepia-toned nostalgia.

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