The voice of Carl Kasell emerges from the loudspeaker as some old guy stands there and moves his mouth

Raymond Chen

Some time ago, the NPR news quiz Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me taped a show in Seattle. (They’re back in town tonight.) I was fortunate to score tickets to that show, in part because I ordered them nearly a full year before taping. Watching the taping of the show is quite a treat, and I recommend it for any fan of the program. You can watch Peter Sagal pace back and forth as he talks and contrast it to old-school radio man Carl Kasell, who stands perfectly still as he delivers his lines. The strangest part of the experience was putting the face to the voice. When Carl Kasell started talking, my reaction was, “Hey, I hear the voice of Carl Kasell, and that old guy on stage is doing a really good job of lip-synching.” After the show, the on-air talent hung around on stage, and enthusiastic audience members approached the stage to chat, get autographs, and generally be adoring fans. Most of the talent hung around in a group at one end of the stage, but not Carl Kasell. He stood at the other end of the stage, because Carl is special. Whereas the others dealt with a small crowd, the people waiting to see Carl stood patiently in a line. And he also had a bodyguard to facilitate the process.

You don’t expect a public radio news announcer to have a security detail, but that’s the level of fame Carl Kasell has risen to.


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