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
3:14 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

Jimmy Page Reflects On 40 Years Of Led Zeppelin's 'Physical Graffiti'

Jimmy Page is remastering and reissuing all of the Led Zeppelin albums, along with previously unreleased recordings.
Ross Halfin Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 4:32 pm

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All Songs Considered
1:12 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

New Mix: Lord Huron, Metz, Patrick Watson, More

Top row, left to right: Sóley, Patrick Watson; Middle row: Metz, Summer Cannibals; bottom: Lord Huron
Courtesy of the artists

It may be freezing on the east coast, but on All Songs Considered this week, we've got the hottest tracks to keep you out of the cold.

At the top, North Dakota songwriter Tom Brosseau tells a heartbreaking story about a boy abandoned by his mother. Patrick Watson returns with a vast and beautiful sound that explores the distinction between humanity and technology.

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All Songs Considered
12:26 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

10 Tiny Desk Contest Entries We Also Loved

DeQn Sue was one of the many, many Tiny Desk contestants who won our team over.

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All Songs Considered
6:00 am
Thu February 12, 2015

The Tiny Desk Concert Contest Winner Is ...

Fantastic Negrito is the winner of the first-ever Tiny Desk Concert Contest.
Brian Gibel Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu February 12, 2015 2:59 pm

Today we're thrilled to announce that the winner of the Tiny Desk Concert Contest is Fantastic Negrito.

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All Songs Considered
7:03 am
Wed February 11, 2015

Ask Me (Bob Boilen) Anything

Caller, you're on air ... uh, the Internet.
Morgan McCloy NPR

Originally published on Wed February 11, 2015 10:27 am

I'll be online at on Wednesday, February 11, 1 to 2 p.m. EST, answering your questions on this post. I'm a little scared because you can actually ask me anything. It will be kind of like a Tiny Desk Concert (intimate, awkward) but I'm sure we'll have fun.

In case you need a little background information about me:

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All Songs Considered
12:26 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

What Is Your Ideal Romantic Song?

Mike Katzif NPR

Is there a single song that sounds like romance to you? My mom might pick Sinatra singing "Fly Me To The Moon." For someone growing up in the '50s it might be "I Only Have Eyes For You" sung by The Flamingos.

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All Songs Considered
1:18 pm
Tue February 3, 2015

New Mix: Toro Y Moi, Courtney Barnett, Pops Staples, More

Clockwise from upper left: Courtney Barnett, Pops Staples, Toro Y Moi, Other Lives
Courtesy of the artists

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 7:51 am

This week on All Songs Considered, we start the show with new music Bob's been waiting for two years to hear: the great first single from Courtney Barnett's debut full-length album. Don't miss the video for "Pedestrian at Best" off her album Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit.

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First Listen
11:03 pm
Sun February 1, 2015

First Listen: Paperhaus, 'Paperhaus'

Paperhaus' new album, Paperhaus, comes out Feb. 10.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 2:19 pm

Paperhaus is my kind of guitar band, with power in the lyricism instead of just the chords. Its music can be jarring and jagged, but Paperhaus can also sound dreamy the way groups like Television could, with lilt and grit. These are long songs that take twists and turns of the variety you might find in a prog-rock band. But Paperhaus is more pop than prog, with excursions that serve the music rather than the musicians themselves.

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All Songs Considered
11:43 am
Tue January 27, 2015

Tiny Desk Concert Contest Phase 2: Judging Begins

This is all I do anymore.
Morgan McCloy NPR

Originally published on Tue January 27, 2015 2:37 pm

I've basically stopped going to concerts. For me, this is kind of like I've stopped eating or sleeping. If you're looking for me these days, you can find me at my computer, watching musicians play their heart out for a chance to perform at NPR's Tiny Desk. After six busy weeks, the Tiny Desk Concert Contest eligibility period is now closed, and we've moved on to the next stage: judging.

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