The Sound of Young America: Music Journalist Dave Tompkins

Episode 149

18th October 2010

Dave Tompkins is an acclaimed music journalist. His new book, How To Wreck A Nice Beach, is a history of the vocoder from its military applications to its musical ones.

Episode notes

Dave Tompkins is a former columnist for The Wire who writes frequently about hip-hop and popular music. His work has appeared in Vibe, The Village Voice, The Believer and Wax Poetics.

His new book, How To Wreck A Nice Beach, describes how the vocoder was created to guard phones from codebreakers during World War II, and soon became a voice-altering tool for musicians. In this way, we see the vocoder as it was used by FDR, JFK, Stanley Kubrick, Stevie Wonder, Neil Young, Kraftwerk, the Cylons, Henry Kissinger, and Winston Churchill.

In this episode...

Associate Producer
Maximum Fun Production Fellow


  • Dave Tompkins

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Bullseye is a celebration of the best of arts and culture in public radio form. Host Jesse Thorn sifts the wheat from the chaff to bring you in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary minds in our culture.

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Associate Producer

Maximum Fun Production Fellow

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