Stephen Thompson Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music. He appears frequently on All Songs Considered and Pop Culture Happy Hour.
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 writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the 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. (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 until December 2004. In the years since, he has provided music-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, his daughter, their three cats and a room full of vintage arcade machines. (He also has a large adult son who has headed off to college but still calls 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

ABC's Abbott Elementary stars Sheryl Lee Ralph, Quinta Brunson, Tyler James Williams and Lisa Ann Walter. Gilles Mingasson/ABC hide caption

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Gilles Mingasson/ABC

Tina Turner performs with the Ikettes in 1973 in the HBO documentary Tina. Rhonda Graam/HBO Max hide caption

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Rhonda Graam/HBO Max

Great 2021 Music Documentaries We Missed

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The Weeknd returns with his fifth studio album Dawn FM. Courtesy of Republic Records hide caption

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Courtesy of Republic Records

A look ahead at some good music coming out in 2022

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Betty White accepts a lifetime achievement award during the 2015 Daytime Emmy Awards. Jesse Grant/Getty hide caption

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Jesse Grant/Getty

Our Favorite Political Music of 2021

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Alexander Skarsgård stars as Amleth and Anya Taylor-Joy as Olga in director Robert Eggers' Viking epic The Northman. Aidan Monaghan/© 2021 Focus Features, LLC hide caption

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Aidan Monaghan/© 2021 Focus Features, LLC
Nora Carol Photography/Getty Images
Nora Carol Photography/Getty Images

Cate Blanchett, Tyler Perry, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Jennifer Lawrence in Don't Look Up. Niko Tavernise/Netlfix hide caption

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Niko Tavernise/Netlfix

MJ (Zendaya) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland) in Spider-Man: No Way Home. Matt Kennedy/Sony/Columbia Pictures hide caption

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Matt Kennedy/Sony/Columbia Pictures