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
5:16 pm
Wed May 9, 2012

After 25 Years, Revisiting Paul Simon's Controversial 'Graceland'

Rob Verhorst/Redferns/Getty Images

I remember so clearly when Paul Simon headed to South Africa. His trip there was controversial in the midst of growing boycotts surrounding apartheid. I imagined with odd certainty that somehow Paul Simon would be killed. I spent the better part of a weekend listening to his music, sad and scared. Fortunately, nothing happened — only my love for his music became stronger.

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All Songs Considered Blog
10:28 am
Tue May 8, 2012

The Magnetic Fields Release Second Single And New Video

The Magnetic Fields video 'Quick!'
Magnetic Fields

Originally published on Tue May 8, 2012 5:12 pm

The second video from The Magnetic Fields 2012 album Love at the Bottom of the Sea is called 'Quick!' It's, of course, about love — in this case the tangling, strangling end to a love.

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All Songs Considered Blog
9:21 am
Tue May 8, 2012

Old Music Tuesday: Queen

Freddie Merucury, performing live with Queen, circa 1970.
Michael Ochs Archives

Originally published on Tue May 8, 2012 9:50 am

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Tiny Desk Concerts
1:50 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

Nathan Salsburg: Tiny Desk Concert

Doriane Raiman NPR

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 3:26 pm

Here's what's surprising about guitarist Nathan Salsburg: He writes passionate instrumental tales about racehorses and turns them into accessibly eclectic tunes. With a brilliant debut album (Affirmed) full of intricate and melodic fingerpicking, Salsburg is likely to become one of those names we all associate with American folk guitar.

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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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