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 BobBoilen.info. 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.

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All Songs Considered
10:03 am
Tue June 24, 2014

The Making Of OK Go's 'The Writing's On The Wall' Video

A behind-the-scenes look at OK Go making their video "The Writing's on the Wall."
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue June 24, 2014 12:39 pm

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Tiny Desk Concerts
3:38 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Conor Oberst: Tiny Desk Concert

Conor Oberst performs a Tiny Desk Concert.
Olivia Merrion NPR

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 9:23 am

Conor Oberst's new album has fast become my favorite of the Bright Eyes singer's solo projects, so having him come to NPR and perform a few of these songs at the Tiny Desk was especially exciting. The new music on Upside Down Mountain contains the sort of personal songwriting that got me loving him in the first place.

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All Songs Considered
12:09 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Song Premiere: Robert Plant's Bold New Band

Robert Plant and his new band The Sensational Space Shifters.
Frank Melfi Courtesy of the artist

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All Songs Considered
9:00 am
Mon June 23, 2014

Song Premiere: Sylvan Esso Mixes It Up With Grouplove

Grouplove is (clockwise from left) Andrew Wessen, Ryan Rabin, Christian Zucconi and Hannah Hooper.
Joseph Ilanes Courtesy of the artist

Sylvan Esso, some of the brightest new makers of music this year, have just remixed "I'm With You," the leadoff track from Grouplove's 2013 album Spreading Rumors. What Sylvan Esso's electronic wiz Nick Sanborn has done to the song is transformative.

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All Songs Considered
10:54 am
Fri June 20, 2014

Song Premiere: The Shins And Zach Braff Reunite

The soundtrack album art for the film "Wish I Was Here"
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 4:51 pm

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All Songs Considered
5:57 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Sole Of A Band, June 19

Bob Boilen NPR

Originally published on

Baggy pants make different music than skinny jeans. Cowboy hats sound different than fedoras. T-shirt-and-jeans bands make a different noise than suit-and-tie bands. You can often look at a band's clothing and have a pretty good idea what it'll sound like.

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All Songs Considered
2:47 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Song Premiere: alt-J, 'Hunger Of The Pine'

alt-J, from left: Thom Green, Joe Newman, Gus Unger-Hamilton.
Gabriel Green Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 4:21 pm

In 2012, alt-J made its debut with An Awesome Wave, and every one of those 13 songs would slay me. Now the band has returned with another shifting and intrepid sonic adventure, "Hunger of the Pine," which will appear on alt-J's second album, This Is All Yours, out on Sept. 22.

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All Songs TV
8:03 am
Wed June 18, 2014

Mother Falcon, 'Marigold'

Mother Falcon, 'Marigold'
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed June 25, 2014 11:46 am

Tiny Desk Concerts
2:38 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Rodney Crowell: Tiny Desk Concert

Rodney Crowell performs at a Tiny Desk in May 2014.
Meredith Rizzo Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 10:54 am

Rodney Crowell performs with the ease and swagger of a man comfortable in his ways. He carries his songs the way he carries his old guitar: out in the open, no case, almost as an extension of his body.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
8:03 am
Sat June 14, 2014

Eliot Fisk And Paco Peña: Tiny Desk Concert

Paco Pena performs at the Tiny Desk in April 2014.
Meredith Rizzo Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Originally published on Sat June 14, 2014 10:07 am

Eliot Fisk looks like the happiest man on the planet. Watch that face as he plays guitar. Between performing music by J.S. Bach and partnering with the world's best flamenco guitarist, Paco Peña, Fisk can barely control his joy. I find his exuberance and their performance undeniably brilliant, inspiring and so completely universal.

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