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.


Monkey See
1:12 pm
Thu April 26, 2012

For Fans Of The NFL Draft, A Heady Cocktail Of Hope And Sloth

Originally published on Thu April 26, 2012 8:10 am

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All Songs Considered Blog
2:40 pm
Wed April 4, 2012

This Night Will Last Forever: Send Us Your Prom Songs

Just think of all the memories being made. Jim Simandl writes over email, "The theme song of our prom was 'On the Wings of Love' by Jeffrey Osborne; hence the winged paper doves on the backdrop."
Courtesy of Jim Simandl

Originally published on Wed April 4, 2012 1:17 pm

In hindsight, prom can feel like one long set-up for a punchline — about what you wore, who accompanied you, how your hair was styled, and so on. Whether you shared your first kiss with the love of your life or spent prom night slow-dancing with your stuffed animals at home, prom takes universal snapshots of youthful vulnerability, vitality and acne-scarred intensity. Prom is eternal; a story you tell when you're summarizing who you were as a teenager.

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SXSW: Live From Austin
9:29 am
Fri March 16, 2012

Polica, Live In Concert: SXSW 2012

Channy Leaneagh of the Minneapolis-based band Polica, at NPR's SXSW day party in Austin, Texas.
Katy Hayes Luke for NPR

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 1:30 pm

Not many bands can boast two drummers and an uncluttered sound, but that's Polica, who somehow provided a seamless transition between rapper Sugar Tongue Slim and the atmospheric rock band Lower Dens at NPR Music's SXSW day party, held Thursday at The Parish in Austin, Texas.

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The Salt
4:49 am
Sat February 4, 2012

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

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

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

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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