Tom Cole

Tom Cole is an editor in NPR's Arts Information Unit. He develops, edits, produces, and reports on stories about art, culture, and music for NPR's news magazines Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, and All Things Considered. Cole has held these responsibilities since February 1990.

Prior to his work with the Arts and Information Unit, Cole worked for three and a half years as an associate producer for NPR's daily classical music program Performance Today, and also for Morning Edition, where he coordinated and edited news reports and produced music programming.

From April 1979 to July 1986, Cole worked for NPR member station WAMU-FM in Washington, DC. He was the production manager for the daily operation of studios, and also served as a reporter, writing and producing music features that were broadcast locally and nationally. In addition, from October 1985 to November 1986, Cole worked for Voice of America as a producer for VOA Europe.

Since 1977, Cole has been the host and producer of a weekly three-hour program of music and interviews broadcast on public radio station WPFW-FM in Washington.

Over the course of his career, Cole has produced or collaborated on a number of public radio projects. He co-edited the Peabody Award-winning NPR documentary, "I Must Keep Fightin' : The Art of Paul Robeson." He was also an advisor, contributor, and co-editor of the Peabody Award-winning " series, The NPR 100, the top 100 songs of the 20th century.

A native of Washington, D.C., Cole has studied classical guitar at The American University and privately. He also studied comparative literature at Catholic University in Washington, DC, and at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa.

The National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, two federal grant-making agencies aimed at investing in American culture, turn 50 on Tuesday. There will be a yearlong celebration commemorating the agencies' history — and future.

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It seemed as if he'd go on forever — and B.B. King was working right up until the end. It's what he loved to do: playing music, and fishing. Even late in life, living with diabetes, he spent about half the year on the road. King died Thursday night at home in Las Vegas. He was 89 years old.

Guitarist and composer John Renbourn co-founded the group Pentangle and went on to become revered by guitarists around the world. Renbourn was found dead of an apparent heart attack at his home in Scotland on Thursday, after failing to show up for a concert. He was 70 years old.

Jim Hall was a guitar god, but not in the sense that he could blaze through a zillion notes a minute. He was worshipped by guitarists around the world, but you'd never know it from talking to him.

"I don't really have all that much technique anyway, so I try to the best with what I have you know," he said to me earlier this year.

Richie Havens once told NPR that he believed all music is folk music. Listen to Havens speak about Woodstock, Greenwich Village and why he loved performing in Neda Ulaby's remembrance, broadcast on Morning Edition, at the audio link on this page.

We've been able to record sound for over 125 years, but many of the recordings that have been made in that time are in terrible shape. Many more, even recordings made in the past 10 years, are in danger because rapid technological changes have rendered their software obsolete. So Wednesday, the Library of Congress unveiled a plan to help preserve this country's audio archives.



Elliott Carter died this week, a month shy of his 104th birthday. He had a huge influence on modern classical music. So in 2008, when Elliott Carter was celebrating his centennial, NPR's Tom Cole went to New York City to interview him. And he has this remembrance of what it was like to meet the storied composer.

TOM COLE, BYLINE: I was terrified. I mean, this was a man who had lived history; a composer who'd won two Pulitzer Prizes, for his Second and Third String Quartets.


Janet Feder does things to her guitar.

"If I play the second string with nothing on it, it sounds like this," Feder says, plucking out a note. "Just a pure pitch."

Steve Popovich, who died Wednesday, was one of those old-fashioned guys who started at the bottom and worked his way up to the top but never forgot why he got into the music business. It might sound like a cliché but it's true, and it's a good story. Popovich died in Tennessee, where he lived. He was 68 years old.

The National Jukebox is spinning tunes – and you don't have to drop any coin to get it to play. Today the Library of Congress and Sony Music Entertainment announced the launch of what's being billed as "the largest collection of historical recordings ever made publicly available online."

Phoebe Snow had one of the most distinctive voices in pop music. It went silent Tuesday morning, more than a year after Snow suffered a brain hemorrhage. She was 58.

Snow was 22 when "Poetry Man" reached the Top 10 in 1975. The song sounded like nothing else on the radio. It was refreshing and unusual to see someone embraced on the strength of her voice and songwriting alone — and not her looks. She was not the prefab concoction we've come to know as a pop princess, yet Snow soon graced the cover of Rolling Stone.

The Kinks are my favorite band. I am what used to be called (by their lame publicity machine anyway) a "Kink Kook."

John Renbourn was among the best of the guitarists to come out of the British folk-rock, folk-jazz, folk-Baroque or whatever-you-want-to-call-it movement of the early 1960s. Davey Graham forged the path of combining jazz, classical and folk on a fingerpicked, steel-stringed guitar.

Billy Bang, a violinist known for intense performances and a wide-ranging sensibility, died Monday night, his manager Jean-Pierre Leduc confirmed. Bang, who had been suffering from lung cancer, was 63.

Born William Walker in 1947, Bang was an important figure on the experimental jazz scene that blossomed in New York in the 1970s. But he gained wider recognition in the last decade for a series of recordings which drew on his military service during the Vietnam War.