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.

SXSW 2014
9:22 am
Mon March 3, 2014

The Austin 100: A SXSW 2014 Mix

Becky Black's band The Pack A.D. is featured as part of NPR Music's downloadable 100-song SXSW preview.
Mark Horton WireImage

Originally published on Thu April 3, 2014 9:55 am

Every year, more than 2,000 acts swarm to SXSW — and every year, NPR Music painstakingly handpicks 100 of the music festival's best discoveries for a downloadable six-hour sampler. We call it The Austin 100, and it's virtually guaranteed to contain something you'll love that you didn't know existed.

For the next 30 days, you can download The Austin 100 from this page — either song by song, or with one click, in its 839 MB entirety — as well as stream it as a continuous mix, both here and through NPR Music's various mobile apps.

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SXSW
10:25 am
Tue March 5, 2013

The Mix: The Austin 100

Molly Hamilton of Widowspeak is one of the 100 acts with songs in our annual SXSW sampler.
Loren Wohl for NPR

Originally published on Fri April 5, 2013 2:03 pm

Audio for The Austin 100 is no longer available.

It says a lot about SXSW's size and scope that this "sampler" of the annual music festival spans six and a half hours, but here we are: 100 songs by 100 artists worth discovering at this year's big event.

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SXSW
1:13 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

The Good Listener: Do I Come To SXSW If I Don't Have A Badge Or A Billion Dollars?

Whether you buy a $795 badge or show up with a little spare cash on hand, SXSW has something for you — and will expect you to stand in line at some point.
Katie Hayes Luke for NPR

Originally published on Thu March 6, 2014 7:06 am

[This story originally ran on Feb. 22, 2013, but still applies today.]

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the Valentine's Day cards that got returned with no forwarding address is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, how music fans could and should approach SXSW, the gigantic music festival held every March in Austin, Texas.

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Music
2:20 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

Lyle Lovett: Tiny Desk Concert

Lyle Lovett performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Nov. 13, 2012.
Ryan Smith NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:48 pm

For all of Lyle Lovett's considerable artistic gifts — a distinctive voice, easygoing charisma, rare talent for wordplay — his greatest attribute may be the way he radiates infectious calm. He's a one-time tabloid fixture who writes wry, bittersweet songs of longing, but Lovett in person is like a vortex into which stress and drama disappear.

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SXSW
12:22 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

The Austin 100: A SXSW Mix

Katie Hayes Luke NPR

Originally published on Fri March 9, 2012 9:03 am

This audio is no longer available.

SXSW is all about volume, in more ways than one. Roughly 2,000 acts perform at the four-day music festival every year, so to spend just three minutes with each in advance of the big event is to deny your friends and loved ones a solid 100 hours of your waking, undivided attention.

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Arts and Culture
1:00 pm
Mon February 6, 2012

Austin's Shearwater Soars With 'Animal Joy'

Shearwater's new album, Animal Joy, comes out Feb. 14.
Amy V. Cooper Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon August 6, 2012 9:18 am

Audio for this feature is no longer available.

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