Written by: Tom Rieland
Date: March 4, 2014

Carl Kassell

Carl Kassell is retiring from Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. Photo: NPR

After waking up (well) before dawn for 30 years and flying every week to Chicago for the past 15, Carl Kasell has announced he’s stepping down this spring after a five-decade career in broadcasting. Carl will record his final broadcast for Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! this spring; celebration shows are being planned. Wait Wait airs every Saturday on 89.7 NPR News at 11 am.

You can leave Carl an appreciation voice mails by Calling 1-888-WAIT-WAIT.

Carl’s relationship with public radio audiences dates back to his 30 years as the newscaster for NPR’s Morning Edition.  He was the voice people woke up to. They opened their eyes, and for 30 years, he was there, reassuring them the world was still in one piece.  In 1998 he was recruited to provide gravitas to NPR’s new news-quiz, where his title, Official Judge and Scorekeeper, belied his key role as the show’s straight man. Carl delighted in the role, and we all know the audience delighted in him. 

In retirement, Carl will become Scorekeeper Emeritus of Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!, and continue to record custom voice mail greetings for the show’s lucky winners and continue to occasionally appear in the program. Thanks to the long-standing and much-coveted prize, more than 2200 people have Kasell’s voice on their home answering machines and cell phones – where he’s performed everything from “What’s New Pussycat” to “Rapper’s Delight.”

We will miss you Carl!


    The premise is faulty. NPR does not depend on federal funds. Local stations depend on federal funds and that’s where federal funds go. Each local station is governed by its own local community and provides programming for its local community per its local board policies and its community advisory boards, based on local needs and interests. Each station chooses to buy, or not buy, programs from individual production companies and producers, for example, American Public Media, Public Media International, NPR, Association of Independents in Public radio, etc. Each station also produces its own programs. Some local stations, mostly in rural and smaller communities, depend on federal funds for up to 50% of their budget. Stations in the larger markets may get less than 5% federal funds. So to cut federal dollars is to prevent the smallest communities the opportunity to have locally controlled public media. Based on the facts, the discussion is very different from the one being presented.