The first release from TV on the Radio (initially just founding members Adebimpe and Sitek) was the self-released OK Calculator (the title being a reference to Radiohead's album OK Computer). They were later joined by Kyp Malone, and released the Young Liars EP in 2003. This was followed by the full-length Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes which earned the band the 2004 Shortlist Music Prize. They released a second EP, New Health Rock, later that year.
Their second album, Return to Cookie Mountain, leaked in early 2006 and garnered pre-release praise from Pitchfork Media before its official release in July overseas. U.S. and Canadian release was in September on Interscope. Spin magazine named Return to Cookie Mountain its Album of the Year for 2006. The album features guest appearances from David Bowie,
Omega Moon, Celebration, Dragons of Zynth, Martin Perna and Stuart D. Bogie of Antibalas, Blonde Redhead, Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Nick Zinner. Bowie contributed back-up vocals on the song "Province". In promotion of the album, the band performed " Wolf Like Me" on the Late Show with David Letterman, which has garnered over 2 million views on YouTube. During the U.S. tour, the band performed a few covers with Bauhaus singer Peter Murphy and Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor.
The band's third album, Dear Science, was released September 23, 2008 on Interscope. It was made available for streaming on their Myspace page and subsequently leaked onto the internet on September 6, 2008. The album was named the best album of 2008 by Rolling Stone, The Guardian,
Spin magazine, The A.V. Club, MTV, Entertainment Weekly, the Pitchfork Media's readers poll as well as the Pazz and Jop critic's poll. It was also named the second best album of 2008 by NME and the fourth best album of 2008 by Planet Sound.
On September 22, 2008, TV on the Radio performed "Dancing Choose" in the setting of a flight of outer apartment stairs on the Late Show with David Letterman. They also appeared on Later... with Jools Holland on September 30, 2008, performing "Golden Age" and "Dancing Choose", which were the same songs they performed on Saturday Night Live on February 7, 2009. The band performed "Dancing Choose" on the February 9, 2009 episode of The Colbert Report.
On September 3, 2009, Tunde Adebimpe announced that TV on the Radio would be taking a year-long hiatus. Guitarist Kyp Malone's solo album, under the name Rain Machine, was released on September 22, 2009 on ANTI-. A solo album by Dave Sitek, Maximum Balloon, was released August 24, 2010 on Interscope, featuring a variety of guest vocals by many of his musician friends such as Karen O, David Byrne, and both of his TV on the Radio vocalist bandmates, and numerous others. In addition, Sitek produced Holly Miranda's album The Magician's Private Library, which also featured fellow TV on the Radio members Jaleel Bunton and Kyp Malone.
In March 2010 the band's lead vocalist, Tunde Adebimpe, designed a charity T-shirt for the Yellow Bird Project to raise money for Haiti Relief via Partners in Health.
On February 7, 2011, the band announced an end to their hiatus, along with their upcoming fourth album Nine Types of Light.
On April 12, 2011, the album Nine Types of Light was released along with a one-hour film under the same name containing music videos for all the songs on the album as well as interviews with various New Yorkers. The film was directed by various directors under the supervision of Tunde Adebimpe.
It was announced in March 2011, that the band's bassist, Gerard Smith, was diagnosed with lung cancer. On April 20, 2011, the band announced the death of Gerard Smith on their homepage: "We are very sad to announce the death of our beloved friend and bandmate, Gerard Smith, following a courageous fight against lung cancer. Gerard passed away the morning of April 20th, 2011. We will miss him terribly."
In May 2013, the band headlined and curated the All Tomorrow's Parties music festival held at Pontins holiday camp in Camber Sands, England, at which they debuted the new song "Mercy." The band began streaming the studio version of "Mercy" online on July 30, 2013 and released the song for sale on digital music outlets a short time later. The band also made the multitracks from Mercy available to fans so they could make their own remixes. The next single "Million Miles." was released digitally a few months later. Both songs were later released physically on either side of a 12 Inch single, released through Dave Sitek's Federal Prism label.
On November 8, 2013, via their Facebook page, the band announced they were at work on a new album. The band made an official announcement July 29, 2014, that this new album, titled Seeds, was scheduled for a late 2014 release.
In early 2015, it was announced that the band would perform at the Shaky Knees and Boston Calling Music Festivals in May 2015. On April 9, 2015 they announced a 2015 North American Summer Tour to promote the new album. The tour began in May and ran through a concert in Morrison, CO at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre on July 27.