Bob Boilen is leaving NPR.
On Wednesday (Sept. 13), Boilen announced his departure from the media organization after a 35-year tenure. Boilen is the co-creator of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts, the creator and host of All Songs Considered and has directed All Things Considered for the last 18 years.
On social media, Boilen wrote, “After 35 years, I am leaving NPR. I’ve had the thrill of creating Tiny Desk Concerts, All Songs Considered, directing All Things Considered for 18 years and so much more. I love the people I’ve worked with, but it’s time to find new challenges. thank you for listening/watching.”
Boilen’s last day on the job is Oct. 2.
An internal memo obtained by Billboard also announced Boilen’s departure to staff.
“For over 35 years Bob has been a fixture here, whether as a long-time producer and director on All Things Considered or as a digital pioneer with NPR Music, Bob’s impact has achieved what few can; he has, through his work, changed NPR and changed the world around us,” reads the memo, written by NPR vp of visuals & music strategy Keith Jenkins and outgoing senior vp of programming and audience development Anya Grundmann.
In the memo, Jenkins and Grundmann add that the Tiny Desk series, which Boilen co-created in 2008, “has set the music industry agenda for the last 15 years” and succeeded in “bringing new audiences to NPR.”
The memo includes a note from Boilen, who states, “I leave at a time when new creative folks will hopefully envision exciting new futures for NPR Music.”
In addition to his work at NPR, Boilen is an accomplished musician and writer. His debut book, Your Song Changed My Life, was published in 2016.
The news of Boilen’s exit follows two other high-level departures at the public radio broadcaster as of late. In August, Grundmann — who worked with Boilen on Tiny Desk in her role overseeing music, podcasts, entertainment and talk shows at the broadcaster — also announced that she’s leaving the public radio giant at the end of the year following nearly 30 years at the organization.
That was followed earlier this month by an announcement from NPR president/CEO John Lansing that he’ll retire at the end of the year following a four-year tenure. Lansing’s time at NPR involved navigating the COVID-19 pandemic and a recent budget crunch. He’ll remain in place until NPR’s board of directors identifies his replacement.
Read the full staff memo on Boilen’s departure below.
Today, we’re sharing the news that one of our longest tenured colleagues, Bob Boilen, is retiring from NPR. For over 35 years Bob has been a fixture here, whether as a long-time producer and director on All Things Considered or as a digital pioneer with NPR Music. Bob’s impact has achieved what few can; he has, through his work, changed NPR and changed the world around us.
Bob’s work on the broadcast side of NPR was extensive, and he later was instrumental in pushing NPR into the digital world at a critical moment of change in media. All Songs Considered, which began as a multimedia online show in 2000 and became one of NPR’s first podcasts in 2005, was a foundational element of NPR Music which Bob helped create in 2007. Bob has continued to produce the podcast weekly, and it’s also heard on more than a hundred NPR Member stations.
While web video was still in its infancy, Bob created Project Song which placed a musician in a Big Brother type environment at NPR for 24 hours, allowing us to observe the song writing process, unfiltered. While its run was short, its impact was great; Project Song’s influence can be found in podcasts like Song Exploder. Project Song also has the honor of earning NPR its first Emmy in 2012.
Finally, there is little left to say that hasn’t already been shared about the Tiny Desk series, which Bob co-founded in 2008. The series has set the music industry agenda for the last 15 years, and it continues to break new ground with its concerts and the Tiny Desk Contest; bringing new audiences to NPR. It is very difficult indeed to go anywhere in the world — whether it’s a battlefield in Ukraine, an embassy in Washington, a farm in the Midwest or a restaurant in Asia — where people haven’t heard about and watched Tiny Desk Concerts. This is the very definition of a global phenomenon.
Bob is leaving NPR with a legacy of creativity and innovation. Knowing of his love for photography and the Eastern Shore, we hope his days continue to be filled with beautiful birds and sunsets — that is, when he can tear himself away from continuing to discover new music in clubs across America. We wish you all the best.
Keith and Anya
A few words from Bob:
I’m retiring from NPR after 35 incredible years. It’s time to find new challenges in life, and I’m excited about some of the possibilities. I leave at a time when new creative folks will hopefully envision exciting new futures for NPR Music. My last day is October 2.
I lived the dream when I came to NPR’s All Things Considered without a day of journalism or radio in my background. I was a musician and a video producer in 1988, but the folks at NPR saw something in me and gave me opportunities to take chances and grow. Within a year, I was directing All Things Considered. I did that for 18 years. I produced hundreds of music stories, brought in music writers, and edited and produced their reviews.
In 1999, I imagined a music show for the internet, and in 2000 All Songs Considered was born. Back then, it was a multimedia show with music. In the summer of 2005 All Songs Considered became what I believe was the first original content podcast for NPR.
With the launch of NPR music in 2007, NPR covered music festivals, including Newport Folk, and, of course, SXSW, where Stephen Thompson’s comment to Laura Gibson became the spark that started the Tiny Desk series. The staff includes such great talent and now the videos look and sound better than ever.
All the while, I got to be in an office with some truly amazing, talented, and fun people. Most of all I just want to thank all of you for making magic happen.