Stephen Thompson

Stephen Thompson is an editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he curates Song of the Day, 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, Weekend All Things Considered and Morning Edition, on which he earned the distinction of becoming the only 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 forthcoming anthology 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 Frogger machine. 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.

 

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7:59am

Sat February 11, 2012
Tiny Desk Concerts

Andrew W.K.: Tiny Desk Concert

Becky Lettenberger/NPR
  • Audio Only: Andrew W.K.'s Tiny Desk Concert

Sometimes, an idea is so perverse and bizarre that it needs to be carried out and followed to its logical end. So once we hatched the idea to bring long-haired, wild-eyed, keyboard-pounding, sublimely over-the-top party-rocker Andrew W.K. to perform an intimate concert at Bob Boilen's desk, there was no abandoning it. It simply had to happen.

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1:19pm

Thu February 9, 2012
Tiny Desk Concerts

Craig Finn: Tiny Desk Concert

Originally published on Thu February 9, 2012 12:23 pm

Doriane RaimanNPR

For all the fetishization of Craig Finn's words — which he's spit out in knotty bundles on many albums by rock bands The Hold Steady and Lifter Puller — he's usually careful to dress them up in brash, populist sounds. His desperate, damaged characters may live their lives on the brink, keeping one eye trained on the redemption brought about by some combination of God and rock 'n' roll, but Finn rarely leaves their stories unadorned.

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4:49am

Sat February 4, 2012
The Salt

This One's For The Chicken: A Super Bowl Party With A Purpose

Originally published on Sat February 4, 2012 8:00 am

Many will compete, but only one will be crowned Chicken Bowl champion this Sunday.
Photo illustration by NPR Staff

This Sunday will mark the 16th annual installment of "Chicken Bowl," my Super Bowl party, which doubles as a grand fried-chicken-eating contest. As many as 80 friends, coworkers, enablers and hangers-on will cram into my long-suffering house for this noble occasion.

But even with all the extravagances I've cobbled together to keep them happy — large TVs, vintage arcade machines, working toilets — there has never been a shred of doubt that chicken is king.

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10:44am

Fri December 30, 2011
Song Of The Day

Harvey Danger: How And Why To Say Goodbye

Originally published on Tue June 4, 2013 1:06 pm

Harvey Danger experienced a brief moment of mainstream ubiquity in 1998, when "Flagpole Sitta" made it arguably the least likely band ever to land a song on a Jock Jams compilation. The group wound up in a sort of commercial purgatory for years thereafter — too mainstream for the underground, too brainy for the mainstream — and disappeared around the time 2000's ambitious and frequently beautiful King James Version bombed.

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