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

Wednesday

Ryan Reynolds and Cailey Fleming in IF. Jonny Cournoyer/Paramount Pictures hide caption

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Jonny Cournoyer/Paramount Pictures

Monday

Sunday

Rock icon or a victim of exploitation? Examining Amy Winehouse's legacy

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Friday

Rapsody (left) and Erykah Badu Courtesy of the artists hide caption

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Courtesy of the artists

New Music Friday: The best albums out May 17

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Marisa Abela as Amy Winehouse in Back to Black. Olli Upton/Focus Features hide caption

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Olli Upton/Focus Features

Friday

What 'Pop Culture Happy Hour' thinks of Jerry Seinfeld's Pop-Tart movie 'Unfrosted'

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Wednesday

Radical Optimism is the latest album from Dua Lipa. Tyrone Lebon/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Tyrone Lebon/Courtesy of the artist

Tuesday

Melissa McCarthy, Jerry Seinfeld, and Jim Gaffigan in Unfrosted. Netflix hide caption

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Netflix

Friday

Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling in the action comedy The Nice Guys. Daniel McFadden/Warner Bros. hide caption

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Daniel McFadden/Warner Bros.

Ryan Gosling stars in The Fall Guy. Eric Laciste/Universal Pictures hide caption

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Eric Laciste/Universal Pictures

Thursday

Nicholas Galitzine and Anne Hathaway in The Idea of You. Prime Video hide caption

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Prime Video

Anne Hathaway finds love with a pop star in 'The Idea of You'

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Tuesday

Glen Powell stars in the new movie Hit Man. Brian Roedel/Netflix hide caption

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Brian Roedel/Netflix

The movies, TV and music we're excited about this summer

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Friday

Zendaya stars as Tashi in Challengers. Niko Tavernise/Amazon MGM Studios hide caption

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Niko Tavernise/Amazon MGM Studios

Monday

The Tortured Poets Department is the latest album from Taylor Swift. Beth Garrabrant/Republic Records hide caption

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Beth Garrabrant/Republic Records

Monday

Thursday

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

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Apple TV+

Tuesday

Blair Caldwell/Parkwood Entertainment/Courtesy of the artist

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

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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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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

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