Questlove Gears Up for the ‘Black Nerd Version of NPR’

New weekly show debuts Sept. 7 with special guest Maya Rudolph.

QuestloveSupremeThat’s how Questlove, a.k.a. Ahmir Johnson, describes the vision he has for Questlove Supreme, a new weekly three-hour music and interview program set to debut on streaming service Pandora Sept. 7, with Maya Rudolph as his first guest.

To frame today’s announcement, the beloved Tonight Show band leader spoke with New York Times reporter Ben Sisario. This all came about very organically:

Last fall, Questlove visited Pandora Media’s headquarters in Oakland, Calif., for what he assumed would be a perfunctory outreach meeting. Pandora, the internet radio giant, was one of several digital music outlets then trying to curry favor with him, Questlove said.

But the meeting turned surprisingly productive once Tim Westergren, Pandora’s co-founder, showed him the company’s Music Genome Project, its system for categorizing songs by hundreds of precise musical attributes. Intrigued by a technology company that was as obsessive about the fundamentals of music as he was, Questlove immediately began discussing new projects with Mr. Westergren, who later brought him on as a strategic adviser and Pandora’s first artist ambassador.

Another funny quote in the article from Questlove, besides the one used for our headline, involves how he frames the research he does for each Pandora episode. “This is a commitment deeper than any girlfriend I’ve ever had, or any diet I’ve tried to stick to.”