Carl Kasell: Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me He Is Leaving NPR!


Carl Kasell, the official judge and scorekeeper for the weekly quiz show on NPR’s Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me! is getting ready to leave NPR. NPR, formerly known as National Public Radio, is a not-for-profit media organization with a syndication of 900 public radio stations across the United States. Documented figures indicate that as of 2009, almost 21 million listeners tune into NPR weekly. NPR originally aired in April 1971 and Carl Kasell joined as a part-time newscaster in 1975.  Now, after almost 40 years with the organization, Kasell is getting set to retire.

Even before working for NPR, Kasell was employed in radio. With a radio career spanning over 50 years, he held several positions for a number of stations on the East Coast. He spent ten years at WAVA in Virginia, hiring on as a morning anchor before becoming the news director. Prior to working for WAVA, he was a newscaster and morning deejay with WGBR-AM in North Carolina. Kasell joined NPR in 1975, beginning as a part-time newscaster for the program Weekend All Things Considered. He later became a full-time newscaster for NPR’s Morning Edition, a weekday morning news program. In addition to being a newscaster for Morning Edition until 2009, Carl has been with Wait Wait …  Don’t Tell Me! since the program’s inception in 1998.

While Carl Kasell is planning on leaving Wait Wait …  Don’t Tell Me! sometime this spring, he will still occasionally appear on the show and continue to record his custom voice mail greetings for NPR’s game show winners. While no specific date of retirement has been announced, the organization indicates that shows in celebration of Kasell’s service are currently being planned in both Washington and Chicago. NPR will bestow the new title of “scorekeeper emeritus” upon Kasell.

Carl Kasell has had a long and distinguished radio career as evidenced by his numerous awards and recognitions. UNC at Chapel Hill chose Kasell to be an inductee to the North Carolina Journalism Hall of Fame in 2004. The N. C. Journalism Hall of Fame recognizes those North Carolina natives with distinguished journalism careers. Kasell was also awarded the Development Exchange Inc’s President’s Award in 2001 for his contributions to public radio. 1999 saw Kasell sharing in NPR’s George Foster Peabody Institutional Award while in 1996 he received the Leo C. Lee Friend of Public Radio News Award for his long-lasting commitment to journalism through public radio. For his flawless newscast deliveries, he was honored with the Public Radio Regional Organization Award in 1991.

Even at a young age, Carl Kasell was interested in radio. Not only did his childhood include playing acting as a disc jockey with a wind-up Victrola, he got a job and worked part-time at a radio station while attending high school. While earning his bachelor’s degree in English at UNC-Chapel Hill, Kasell was a newscaster and program host for the campus radio station, WUNC.

The long radio career of Carl Kasell seems to be winding down as he prepares to leave NPR’s Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me! weekly broadcast program. In tribute to Kasell’s custom voice mail prizes, listeners may call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT1-888-WAIT-WAIT and record a voice mail of their own.

By Dee Mueller