Stephen Thompson Stephen Thompson is a host, writer and reviewer for NPR Music and Pop Culture Happy Hour. He appears frequently on All Songs Considered and NPR newsmagazines.
Washington, DC - May 03, 2016: Stephen Thompson CREDIT: Matt Roth
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Stephen Thompson

Matt Roth/NPR
Washington, DC - May 03, 2016: Stephen Thompson CREDIT: Matt Roth
Matt Roth/NPR

Stephen Thompson

Writer/Editor, NPR Music and Host, Pop Culture Happy Hour

Stephen Thompson is a host, writer and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist and guest host on All Songs Considered. Thompson also co-hosts the daily NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created with NPR's Linda Holmes in 2010. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)

In 1993, Thompson founded The Onion's entertainment section, The A.V. Club, which he edited — alongside duties as The Onion's copy editor — until December 2004. In the years since, he has provided music- and pop-culture-themed commentaries for NPR programs such as Weekend Edition, 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 girlfriend, their three cats and a room full of vintage arcade machines. (He also has two adult children who've headed off to college but still call once in a while.) Thompson's 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 (who returned the favor by making a 22-minute documentary about his life) and maintaining a fierce rivalry with all Midwestern states other than Wisconsin.

Story Archive

Thursday

Nisha Murali in the Apple TV+ documentary film Girls State. Apple TV+ hide caption

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Apple TV+

Tuesday

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Boots with the spurs: 'Cowboy Carter' and the need for validation

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Stephen King at a press conference in 2013, in Paris. Eric Feferberg/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Eric Feferberg/AFP via Getty Images

Kyle Gass and Jack Black of Tenacious D performing live. Paul McConnell/Getty Images hide caption

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Paul McConnell/Getty Images

Songs to make you laugh, with 'Weird Al' Yankovic

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Friday

Texas funk trio Khruangbin are back with A La Sala this week. David Black/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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David Black/Courtesy of the artist

Tuesday

Beyoncé returns with her highly anticipated new album Cowboy Carter. Blair Caldwell/Parkwood Entertainment / Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Blair Caldwell/Parkwood Entertainment / Courtesy of the artist

Monday

Ron Livingston in Office Space. Getty Images hide caption

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Getty Images

Tuesday

Image from the cover to Laraaji's 2023 album, Segue to Infinity. Illustration by Jackie Lay/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Illustration by Jackie Lay/Courtesy of the artist

Relax: Songs to calm the nerves

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Friday

Waxahatchee's Tigers Blood is one of the best releases out March 22. Molly Matalon/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Molly Matalon/Courtesy of the artist

Thursday

Sunday

Review: 'Kung Fu Panda 4'

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Friday

Wednesday

Shifu voiced by Dustin Hoffman and Po voiced by Jack Black return in DreamWorks Animation's Kung Fu Panda 4. DreamWorks Animation hide caption

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DreamWorks Animation

Monday

Emma Stone won her second best actress Oscar, this time for her role in Poor Things. Arturo Holmes/Getty Images hide caption

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Arturo Holmes/Getty Images

Friday

Pauli Murray is the subject of the documentary My Name Is Pauli Murray. Pauli Murray Foundation hide caption

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Pauli Murray Foundation

Cillian Murphy in the film Oppenheimer. Universal Pictures hide caption

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Universal Pictures

Wednesday

Ashmal in Peacock's Couple To Throuple. Paul Castillero/Peacock hide caption

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Paul Castillero/Peacock

Tuesday

Madi Diaz's new album, Weird Faith, includes the deeply affecting song, "God Person," one of our best-of-the-year contenders. Muriel Margaret/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Muriel Margaret/Courtesy of the artist

The Contenders, Vol. 4: Our running list of the year's best songs

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Monday

Ryan Gosling performs the Oscar-nominated song "I'm Just Ken" in Barbie. Warner Bros. hide caption

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Warner Bros.

Saturday

Tuesday

Kiawentiio as Katara, Gordon Cormier as Aang and Ian Ousley as Sokka. Netlfix hide caption

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Netlfix

Beck as seen in his 1994 video for the song "Loser." Youtube screen grab by NPR hide caption

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Youtube screen grab by NPR

Beck's 'Loser' at 30 and the golden age of slacker rock

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Wednesday

Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman in Parks and Recreation. NBC / Alamy hide caption

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NBC / Alamy