Bob Boilen

In 1988, a determined Bob Boilen started showing up on NPR's doorstep every day, looking for a way to contribute his skills in music and broadcasting to the network. His persistence paid off, and within a few weeks he was hired, on a temporary basis, to work for All Things Considered. Less than a year later, Boilen was directing the show and continued to do so for the next 18 years.

Significant listener interest in the music being played on All Things Considered, along with his and NPR's vast music collections, gave Boilen the idea to start All Songs Considered. "It was obvious to me that listeners of NPR were also lovers of music, but what also became obvious by 1999 was that the web was going to be the place to discover new music and that we wanted to be the premiere site for music discovery." The show launched in 2000, with Boilen as its host.

Before coming to NPR, Boilen found many ways to share his passion for music. From 1982 to 1986 he worked for Baltimore's Impossible Theater, where he held many posts, including composer, technician, and recording engineer. Boilen became part of music history in 1983 with the Impossible Theater production Whiz Bang, a History of Sound. In it, Boilen became one of the first composers to use audio sampling — in this case, sounds from nature and the industrial revolution. He was interviewed about Whiz Bang by Susan Stamberg on All Things Considered.

In 1985, the Washington City Paper voted Boilen 'Performance Artist of the Year.' An electronic musician, he received a grant from the Washington D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities to work on electronic music and performance.

After Impossible Theater, Boilen worked as a producer for a television station in Washington, D.C. He produced several projects, including a music video show. In 1997, he started producing an online show called Science Live for the Discovery Channel. He also put out two albums with his psychedelic band, Tiny Desk Unit, during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Boilen still composes and performs music and posts it for free on his website He performs contradance music and has a podcast of contradance music that he produces with his son Julian.

Longtime NPR fans may remember another contribution Boilen made to NPR. He composed the original theme music for NPR's Talk of the Nation.


All Songs Considered Blog
9:26 am
Fri April 27, 2012

Hey, This Building's Moving — We Need A Soundtrack

I like to gaze out the window, but these days I'm not alone. What's got many of us staring out the back window of NPR's D.C. office is some serious construction work. Across the street, a construction crew has literally been picking up buildings, putting them on wheels and moving them to the end of the lot. They moved the last of five buildings yesterday. I time-lapsed this one, partly because it has some lore for us at NPR. It was part of a prostitution bust a few years back that also had us staring out the window.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
7:03 am
Thu April 26, 2012

Cowboy Junkies: Tiny Desk Concert

Doriane Raiman NPR

Originally published on Tue May 15, 2012 9:18 am

Make a list of bands with integrity, still highly respected and still making music after 25 years, and that list will have Cowboy Junkies near the top. More active than ever, the group has released four new studio records in the past two years — an insane achievement. A prolific nature doesn't define greatness, of course, but these past few years have produced some of the best music Cowboy Junkies' members have ever made.

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All Songs Considered Blog
1:33 pm
Wed April 25, 2012

Hear The Beach Boys' Best New Song In 40 Years

The Beach Boys 2012
Robert Matheu Capitol Records

Originally published on Wed April 25, 2012 4:27 pm

For their 50th year in music, The Beach Boys are getting together and heading out on the road. A cynic would think dollar signs motivated the reunion, but I bet they've not heard the group's new tune. "That's Why God Made The Radio" has the harmony and sentiment that defined the sound of California in the 1960s and — honestly, for anyone living outside this country — the sound of America itself.

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All Songs Considered Blog
12:50 pm
Wed April 25, 2012

What Does This Sound Like? Bob Boilen Bets You Won't Know


Originally published on Wed April 25, 2012 6:00 pm

It's happened again. We played a song on our show that clearly reminds me of another tune. But this time the stakes are higher. If you're the first person to guess the song that I'm thinking of, I'll invite you to a live Tiny Desk Concert taping and I'll buy you lunch. It's a safe bet for me, because I don't think anybody will get it.

So here's the top of the tune called "Generals" by the Mynabirds from this week's show.

Sound familiar? Tell us your guess in the comments below.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
12:56 pm
Mon April 23, 2012

Jolie Holland: Tiny Desk Concert

Mallory Benedict NPR

It'll take just a few seconds to find out if you're likely to fall in love with Jolie Holland. That's what happened to me about eight years ago: Holland was a founding member of The Be Good Tanyas, and I've been listening faithfully to the Texas-born, Brooklyn-based singer ever since.

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