All Songs Considered



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Hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton spin new music from emerging bands and musical icons.


All Songs +1: Memories Of Columbia House

August 14th, 2015

Episode 607 of 715 episodes

Columbia House (actually, the company that has owned Columbia House since 2012) filed for bankruptcy this week, which will mean a great deal to those who were music lovers in the 1980s and '90s, and probably close to nothing to listeners under the age of 30. Columbia House was a mail-order music warehouse, which used cheap (or free) LPs, then 8-tracks, then cassettes and CDs to rope customers into its full-price subscription service. For this week's All Songs +1 podcast, Robin (who, like millions of other Americans, has Columbia House to thank for his Hootie & The Blowfish collection) is joined by NPR Music's Stephen Thompson and Piotr Orlov, who was a Columbia House employee in its '90s heyday. In this freewheeling discussion, the team talks about the nuts and bolts of the Columbia House model (it's been called "the Spotify of the '80s"), how young music fans tried to work the system, and how Stephen somehow missed the massive reach of Columbia House altogether.