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 All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the weekly NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the 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, his girlfriend, their four cats 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.

The twists and turns of the 2016 election — not to mention the characters at the top of each major-party ticket — provide many opportunities for comedy. But it's tough out there for late-night joke-makers, who face more competition than ever , not to mention a social-media landscape in which seemingly every possible quip is being made in real time. The marketplace feels especially crowded on late-night television, where old standbys ( Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show ) are up against well...

[In case you haven't heard, Pop Culture Happy Hour is about to embark on a West Coast tour. San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles are sold out — though we recently added an appearance (with Guy Branum !) at the Now Hear This podcast festival in Anaheim on Oct. 29 — but we'll also be in Portland on Oct. 19 with our dear pal Audie Cornish. Tickets for that one are still available. Oh, and we're fielding requests for pop-culture advice, so fill out this form to send us your questions. We might...

[In case you haven't heard, Pop Culture Happy Hour is embarking on a West Coast tour! San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles are sold out — though we recently added an appearance (with Guy Branum !) at the Now Hear This podcast festival in Anaheim on Oct. 29 — but we'll also be in Portland on Oct. 19 with our dear pal Audie Cornish. Tickets for that one are still available. Oh, and we're fielding requests for pop-culture advice, so fill out this form to send us your questions. We might just...

[In case you haven't heard, Pop Culture Happy Hour is embarking on a West Coast tour! San Francisco and Los Angeles are already sold out — though we've just added an appearance (with Guy Branum !) at the Now Hear This podcast festival in Anaheim on Oct. 29 — but we'll also be in Seattle on Oct. 17 and Portland on Oct. 19 with our dear pal Audie Cornish. Oh, and we're fielding requests for pop-culture advice, so fill out this form to send us your questions. We might just answer them onstage......

[In case you haven't heard, a big announcement: Pop Culture Happy Hour is embarking on a West Coast tour! We'll be in Seattle on Oct. 17 (with Audie Cornish), Portland on Oct. 19 (also with Audie Cornish), San Francisco on Oct. 21 (with Mallory Ortberg), and Los Angeles on Oct. 23 (with Kumail Nanjiani). For ticket information, click here — and remember that all four shows go on sale Tuesday, Sept. 6, at noon Pacific Time. Oh, and we're fielding requests for pop-culture advice, so fill out...

Summer has a way of sending the Pop Culture Happy Hour team hurtling across the country, so this episode required a bit of logistical maneuvering: We actually recorded it several weeks ago, just as Linda Holmes and I were about to jet off on separate West Coast jaunts. Glen Weldon wasn't yet back from Comic-Con, the rest of us aren't in Historic Studio 44... everything's topsy-turvy! Fortunately, Linda and I were able to land two of our favorite guest panelists — Kat Chow and Gene Demby, both...

On this week's episode of All Songs Considered, Bob Boilen and guest host Stephen Thompson play new music from Regina Spektor, experimental rap from Clipping, which features Daveed Diggs of Hamilton, and a great synth track from singer-songwriter Lowell. Bob starts the show off with a song from the 22-year-old guitarist and singer Angelica Garcia that he cannot get out of his head. Orange Flower" is a playful, foot-stomping rock track and Garcia's very first single. Stephen shares "Umpqua...

In honor of MTV's 35th birthday Monday, the network has launched MTV Classic, a new channel featuring programming from the '90s and '00s. On the same day, we also wish a happy birthday to NPR Music and Pop Culture Happy Hour 's Stephen Thompson, who celebrates with an interview on All Things Considered about how MTV Classic is redefining which popular culture fits into the current environment for nostalgia. With the new channel, MTV — a pioneer of reality shows like The Real World and...

We've reached the part of every summer when the PCHH gang begins to scatter to the four winds. Linda Holmes, for example, recorded this week's episode the day before leaving for the Television Critics Association's two-and-a-half-week Press Tour, while Glen was still home recuperating from the ever-exhausting San Diego Comic-Con. So it only makes sense that this week's panel is itself scattered, albeit to only three winds: Linda and I were in D.C., while our producer emeritus and music...

This is our 300th episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour — not counting Small Batch editions, which would drive the number significantly higher — so now's as good a time as any to thank everyone who's listened, supported us both within and outside NPR, and/or appeared on the show itself. We're feeling awfully appreciative that we've been allowed to stick around this long. Linda Holmes, Glen Weldon, Code Switch's Gene Demby and I kick off Episode 300 by trying to wrap our heads around a daunting...

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