WASHINGTON — Longtime National Public Radio Editor and incredibly tiny person Nick Callum is “sick and tired” of musicians using his custom-sized desk for performances inside the NPR office, sources close to the pint-sized journalist confirmed.
“There’s plenty of space in our offices for people to perform, but for some reason, everyone feels the need to invade my space,” said the 5-inch Callum, working on his little-bitty MacBook to edit NPR video content. “I can’t do my job with Win fucking Butler tuning musical wine glasses at my goddamn workstation.”
The award-winning “Tiny Desk” concert series at Callum’s desk began in 2008 with staged, live performances of NPR’s All Songs Considered. Initially thinking it would be a “one-time thing,” Callum agreed to the set up — but as the series grew popular, the sessions became more frequent, and the “overwhelming folksiness has become oppressive.”
“I built that tiny desk special,” said Callum. “You can’t just go to Ikea and get a desk for a person who is less than a foot tall. I found the used spools of thread for the legs. I’m the one who used his entire body weight to press down on that stapler to secure those playing cards for my desktop. I found that old Christmas light bulb to use for a lamp. And, at the end of the day, I just want to work.”
NPR Music Director Lauren Onkey said she understands Callum’s complaint, but also emphasized that the series has “taken on a life of its own.”
“The Tiny Desk concerts are some of our most popular programs. And the artists love that tiny desk! Andrew W.K. claimed the ‘tiny desk equals a huge party.’ Guided by Voices released six full albums about the desk,” said Onkey. “Steve Albini said, ‘NPR can shove that tiny desk up its ass.’ And we could do that! It’s very small.”
But Callum asserted that popularity is the problem, and changes need to be made.
“I get it. People like the tiny desk. But those same people need to understand that behind every tiny desk is a tiny person who has a deadline,” said Callum. “And this B-roll of Father John Misty ordering a latte isn’t going to cut itself.”
Photo by Kat Chish.