Bob Boilen, creator of NPR’s ‘Tiny Desk,’ named program director of WOWD-FM, Takoma’s community radio station

Bob Boilen, the veteran NPR music host and creator of the widely popular “Tiny Desk Concert” series, has come out of retirement and will be bringing his talents to the world of local community radio in D.C.

Boilen will succeed Steve Hoffman as the program director at WOWD 94.3 FM, Takoma’s community radio station, the station announced in a statement this week.

Boilen retired from NPR in October, after 35 years in public media, during which he worked his way up from a freelance editor doing ad-hoc work whenever he could get it, to directing All Things Considered. From there, he launched the widely influential music podcast All Songs Considered. Perhaps his most lasting cultural impact was made when he helped form NPR Music and co-created the wildly popular Tiny Desk concert series, with colleague Stephen Thompson. (Full disclosure: I worked as Boilen’s intern for “All Songs” and the Tiny Desk in 2016.)

Boilen is no stranger to WOWD, where he has hosted a weekly show at 8 a.m. on Wednesday mornings, “My Tiny Morning Show,” since 2021. On it, he plays a mix of new artists like those he often featured on “All Songs,” as well as classics and favorites from the last half-century of rock and creative music. Along with his experience in public radio, he brings a storied legacy of work in the D.C. alternative and creative music community as the synthesizer player for Tiny Desk Unit — which also enjoys another claim to fame, as the first group to play the 9:30 Club — as well as his long affiliation with d.c. space founder Bill Warrell.

Starting out in radio in the 1980s, Boilen developed a habit of walking into the NPR studios each morning and asking Ira Glass — who was then a host at All Things Considered — how he could help. He’d be given an interview or a radio feature that needed editing, then he’d get to work cutting tape.

Michael Phillips, WOWD’s music director, told CapitalBop in an email Wednesday: “Bob has successfully made the shift from Tiny Desk concerts to tiny-desk community radio, and I have no doubt he’ll be successful as our new program director.”

In his own version of the hiring announcement, Boilen noted on his social media channels that becoming program director at WOWD would see him once again working closely with station founder Marika Partridge, another NPR veteran with whom Boilen co-directed All Things Considered for over a decade. In texts to CapitalBop on Wednesday, he said that reconnecting with Partridge during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic had helped pave the way for the creation of “My Tiny Morning Show” on WOWD.

He also spoke about his admiration for the station’s programming staff, which includes former DJs from now-shuttered sources of great music in D.C. like WHFS-FM and WGTB-FM, a juggernaut of D.C. radio in the 1970s.

“I’ve been intrigued by the station since its inception. The fact that my former partner at NPR, Marika Partridge, is the founder of the station is key to that,” Boilen told CapitalBop. “I have always admired her musical tastes. Also, several DJs and friends are volunteer DJs there, including folks from the days of WGTB, the last great music station in D.C., in my opinion. Also, folks from WHFS and then new voices, including regional high school students, get to have shifts at the station.”

Boilen will officially take the reins at WOWD on June 1.



About Jackson Sinnenberg

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Jackson Sinnenberg is a broadcast journalist and a freelance writer. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, JazzTimes, Downbeat, NPR Music,, the Washington City Paper, On Tap/District Fray Magazine and the blog of Smithsonian Folkways Records. He began covering the city’s music scene for WGTB, Georgetown University’s radio station, where he was a show host, writer, and columnist. He graduated from Georgetown with a bachelor’s degree in American Musical Culture. Reach him at [email protected]. Follow him at @sinnenbergmusic.

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