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Carl Kasell (1934 – 2018), star of NPR’s “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!”

by Kirk Fox

The newscaster was the beloved judge on the popular news quiz show…

Carl Kasell, the NPR newscaster who gained popularity as the beloved judge and scorekeeper on the news quiz show “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!,” has died at the age of 84, according to multiple news sources.

NPR reported that Kasell died Tuesday from complications from Alzheimer’s disease in Potomac, Md. 


The longtime newscaster told NPR that he dreamed of becoming a newscaster as a child. “I sometimes would hide behind the radio and pretend I was on the air.” 

Kasell was born in Goldsboro, North Carolina. He was a drama student in high school, where he was taught by Andy Griffith. He was urged by Griffith to pursue theater but Kasell fell in love with radio. 

He attended the University of North Carolina where he helped launch a local radio station with fellow student Charles Kuralt. 

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He was a DJ first and then moved to the Washington DC area and became a news director for WAVA in Arlington, Virginia. 

He joined NPR in 1975 as the news announcer on the “Weekend All Things Considered.” He was also the morning news announcer for NPR’s “Morning Edition” from 1979 until 2009. 

Kasell was the judge and scorekeeper for the humorous news quiz show “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” from its inception in 1998 until he retired in 2014. 

Host Peter Sagal told NPR no one knew that Kasell would be so funny. “The greatest thing about Carl was anything we came up with, he was game,” Sagal says. “When we were in Las Vegas, we had him come onstage in a showgirl’s headdress. No matter what we asked him to do — silly voices, or weird stunts; we had him jump out of a cake once to make his entrance onstage — he did it [with] such joy and such dignity.” 

With a small budget, one of the prizes offered winners on the show was to have Kasell record the message for their answering machine or voice mail. Over 2,000 of these messages have been recorded. 

His final show was broadcast on May 17, 2014, featuring Stephen Colbert, Tom Hanks, Katie Couric and President Barack Obama calling in to the show. 

We invite you to share condolences in his Guest Book.







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