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
6:10 pm
Fri November 2, 2012

Watch The Creepy New Video By Mercury Prize Winners Alt-J

Alt-J flying in Delta formation
Jory Cordy Big Hassle Media

Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 9:03 am

Alt-J is a quirky band that, over the past few months, has found its way to the top of my listening pile and is now my favorite album of the year. I'm not alone. Yesterday Alt-J's album, An Awesome Wave, won the Mercury Prize. This choice prize for bands in Great Britain is selected by music journalists and other music business folks and often goes to underdogs. This year is no exception.

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All Songs Considered
12:20 pm
Fri November 2, 2012

Song Premiere: Pere Ubu, 'Free White'

Pere Ubu
Courtesy of the Artist

Originally published on Fri November 2, 2012 8:32 pm

Pere Ubu made some of the darkest and most creative music of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Thirty five years after its release, The Modern Dance would easily make my top 10 of all time. We hear the word "industrial" bandied about to describe music — The Modern Dance exemplified that genre.

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All Songs Considered
1:12 pm
Thu November 1, 2012

First Watch: Walk Off The Earth, 'Red Hands'

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 2:28 pm

I'll admit it, I'm a sucker for a confetti cannon. But even more so, I love it when visuals draw me into a song. It doesn't happen often, but this video for the song "Red Hands" by Walk Off The Earth had me scratching my head wondering how it was done while it kept me smiling at the same time.

It's not the first time this band has made me smile. Earlier this year this Canadian band gathered round a single acoustic guitar and recorded themselves playing a cover version of Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" that has now been watched 138 million times.

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Moogfest
5:00 pm
Wed October 31, 2012

Morton Subotnick In Concert: Moogfest 2012

Adam Kissick for NPR

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 11:55 am

  • Listen To The Performance
  • Listen To The Interview

Morton Subotnick released the first all-electronic album, Silver Apples of the Moon, in 1967. Last Friday, he returned to Moogfest 2012 in Asheville, N.C., to perform the whole thing live.

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All Songs Considered
6:30 am
Sat October 27, 2012

Dear Dad: I'm Sorry I Blew Out Your Nice Stereo Speakers

I think we can all agree that he deserves at least a little bit of the blame: Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake & Palmer on stage with his Moog synthesizer.
Ed Perlstein Getty Images

Originally published on Sat October 27, 2012 1:36 pm

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All Songs Considered
2:48 pm
Mon October 22, 2012

CMJ 2012: Discoveries Day Four

Performers in People Get Ready's Specific Ocean at New York Live Arts.
Ian Douglas Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 2:58 pm

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All Songs Considered
3:46 pm
Fri October 19, 2012

CMJ 2012: Discoveries Day Three

Little Green Cars play at the Union Square Ballroom during CMJ 2012 in New York City.
Bob Boilen NPR

Originally published on Tue October 23, 2012 5:53 pm

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All Songs Considered
2:38 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

CMJ 2012: Discoveries Day Two

Drummer Zach Hill of Sacramento-based band Death Grips, during the group's speaker-busting set at (Le) Poisson Rouge.
Loren Wohl for NPR

Originally published on Tue October 23, 2012 5:54 pm

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All Songs Considered
12:34 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

CMJ 2012: Discoveries Day One

Ben Gibbard performs at The HiFi Bar in New York City's Lower East Side during the CMJ Music Marathon.
Bob Boilen NPR

Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 2:05 pm

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In Practice
10:03 am
Mon October 15, 2012

In Practice: David Byrne And St. Vincent

David Byrne and Annie Clark of St. Vincent
Mito Habe-Evans NPR

Originally published on Mon July 7, 2014 5:07 pm

When I first heard that David Byrne and St. Vincent's Annie Clark would collaborate, I imagined a quirky, guitar-based dance band. I never expected an eight-piece brass ensemble or a theremin duet. What's brilliant about their album together, Love This Giant, is what makes collaboration exciting: the desire to explore and challenge. We find both artists outside their comfort zones, making music that couldn't have happened independently of each other.

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