Carl Kasell

Debby and I attended a talk by Carl Kasell at IPFW last night. Kasell was the news announcer for NPR’s Morning Edition for 30 years.   He has been the official judge and scorekeeper for Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! since 1998.   Being a late sleeper* and hardly ever hearing Morning Edition, I mostly know him from Wait Wait. It was clear that this was true for most of the audience.

Kasell spent a period of time talking before taking questions.  Much of his talk was based on a few notes or just given off the top of his head.  Now and then he would return to a prepared speech from which he’d read a paragraph or two and then find a hook off of which to ad lib.  The prepared speech was long version of the virtues of public radio and the importance of the public’s support. His reading of this was not all that good for a man who has been reading for a living for over thirty years.  So that was strange.

I’m guessing he talked for thirty minutes or more and answered questions for awhile, but he really did not have all that much to say.  A few anecdotes and talk about how this or that happened, but only in the most superficial aspects.

When discussing 9/11, he said that he said that the first plane hit the north tower at 8:46 and a few moments later he saw the replay of hit on the television.  This can not possibly be right, video of the first hit did not come to light for several hours (maybe even a day or two).  The man is 77 years old, so I guess I can forgive a mistaken memory.

Later in the talk he started to tell us who would be on the panel of the up coming Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! He mentioned Roy Blount, Jr. and Faith Seeley (sp?) but then he could not remember the third name.  I thought he was mocking Governor Perry and started to laugh (I believe you can hear me in the audio just after the 25 minute mark, but only for a moment).  I immediately perceived that he was not intentionally being funny and that I seemed to be the only member of the audience who was amused, so I stifled myself.

He answered all questions before he wrapped things up.

*At one point, Kasell related how he once told someone he awoke at 1:05 in the morning.  When asked why 1:05 as opposed to 1:00 he answered “I like to sleep in.”