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Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!

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Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! is an hour-long weekly news-based radio panel show produced by WBEZ and National Public Radio (NPR) in Chicago, Illinois. It is distributed by NPR in the United States, internationally on NPR Worldwide and on the Internet via podcast, and typically broadcast on weekends by member stations. The show averages about 6 million weekly listeners on air and via podcast.[2]

Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!
WaitWait.png
Genre
Running timeApprox. 50 min.
Country of originUnited States
Language(s)English
Home stationWBEZ in Chicago, Illinois
Syndicates
Hosted byPeter Sagal
Announcer
Created byDoug Berman
Produced by
  • Miles Doornbos
  • Ian Chillag
Executive producer(s)Mike Danforth
Recording studioChicago, Illinois
Original releaseJanuary 3, 1998 (1998-01-03) – present
Audio formatStereophonic
Opening themeB. J. Leiderman[1] (composer)
Websitewaitwait.npr.org
Podcastwww.npr.org/podcasts/344098539/wait-wait-don-t-tell-me

Contents

FormatEdit

 
Taping of a 2010 episode at the Chase Auditorium, with panelists Adam Felber, Roxanne Roberts, and Keegan-Michael Key

Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! is recorded in front of a live audience in Chicago at the Chase Auditorium beneath the Chase Tower on Thursday nights.[3] Until May 2005, the show was recorded in one of Chicago Public Radio's studios, with no audience and often with one or more panelists calling in from other locations. The show also often travels to various cities in the United States and produces a road show in front of a live audience for promotional and station-related purposes.

The show is hosted by playwright and actor Peter Sagal. When the program had its debut in January 1998, Dan Coffey of Ask Dr. Science was the original host, but a revamping of the show led to his replacement in May of that year. The show has also been guest-hosted by Tom Bodett, Luke Burbank, Adam Felber, Peter Grosz, Mike Pesca, Richard Sher, Bill Radke, Susan Stamberg, Robert Siegel, Brian Unger, Drew Carey, Tom Hanks, Helen Hong, Jessi Klein,[4][5][6][7][8] and Faith Salie when Sagal was on vacation.

Carl Kasell, who also served as the newsreader on Morning Edition, was the show's official judge and scorekeeper until his retirement on May 17, 2014, after which the role was taken over permanently by journalist Bill Kurtis. In addition to Kurtis, Korva Coleman, Corey Flintoff, and Jean Cochran, among others, have also served this role in the past.

Wait Wait... listeners also participate by telephoning or sending emails to nominate themselves as contestants. The producers select several listeners for each show and call them to appear on the program, playing various games featuring questions based on the week's news. Prior to October 21, 2017, the usual prize for winning any game was to have Kasell (named "Scorekeeper Emeritus" following his retirement) record a greeting on the contestant's home answering machine or voice mail system.[9] The current prize is to have any one show panelist or staff member of the contestant's choice record the greeting, including Sagal, Kurtis, or Kasell prior to his death in April 2018.

Several shows a year, usually coinciding with holidays or local National Public Radio (NPR) member station pledge drives, are compiled from segments from past episodes, or feature holiday-related theme programming (such as for the 4th of July, an entire program based on questions from American history adapted to fit the current events format), and are either recorded in front of an audience for later broadcast, or at WBEZ's studio facilities without an audience.

PanelistsEdit

On-air segmentsEdit

Though there are some deviations from time to time, episodes of Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! feature the following format:

Opening teaseEdit

As with other NPR programs, Wait Wait offers a one-minute top-of-hour billboard teasing the program that will follow the network's hourly newscast (which traditionally starts at 1 minute past the hour). In this minute, the host offers a humorous comment on the week's news, mentions the identity of the week's interview guest, and sets up an out-of-context reading by Kurtis of a quote or game title from the episode.

Who's Bill This Time?Edit

The contestant is asked to identify the speaker or explain the context of three quotations from that week's major news stories as read by Bill Kurtis. Each answer is followed by a humorous discussion of the story by the host and the panelists. Two correct answers constitute a win for the contestant. Prior to Kasell's retirement, the segment was known as "Who's Carl This Time?" and he read the quotations.

Panel questionsEdit

In two separate segments each week, the host asks the panelists questions regarding less serious stories in the week's news, awarding them one point for each correct answer. The questions are phrased similarly to those featured on The Match Game or Hollywood Squares to allow the panelists to offer a comedic answer in addition to their real guess as well as a hint from the host if needed. The answer is often followed by a discussion of the story.

Bluff the ListenerEdit

Each panelist reads an unusual story, all sharing a common theme. Only one of the three stories is genuine; the contestant wins the prize by choosing it. A sound bite from a person connected to the genuine story is played to reveal whether the contestant's guess is correct. Regardless of the outcome, the panelist whose story is chosen scores one point.

Not My JobEdit

External audio
  Jimmy Wales plays "Not my job", 10:19, NPR, November 4, 2006[12]

A celebrity guest calls in (or occasionally appears on stage) to be interviewed by the host and the panelists as well as take a three-question multiple-choice quiz. In Wait Wait's early years, "Not My Job" guests were mainly culled from NPR's roster of personalities and reporters; the pool of guests later expanded to include guests of greater celebrity. As the segment's title suggests, the guests are quizzed on topics that are not normally associated with their field of work. For example, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was asked questions on the history of Hugh Hefner and Playboy magazine,[13] while author Salman Rushdie was asked about the history of Pez candy.[14][15] Often, the subject matter of the quizzes serve as an oblique yet comic juxtaposition to the guests' fields of work, such as when Mad Men creator/producer Matthew Weiner was quizzed on ways people try to cheer others up ("Glad Men") in a March 2015 appearance.[16] Two correct answers from the guest constitute a win, with the prize going to a randomly-selected listener who contacted the show but was not chosen as an on-air contestant.

Listener Limerick ChallengeEdit

Kurtis reads three limericks connected to unusual news stories, leaving out the last word of each. The contestant wins the prize by correctly completing any two of them. The limericks are written by Philipp Goedicke; after the contestant answers each one, Sagal provides a humorous summary of the relevant story.

Lightning Fill-in-the-BlankEdit

In the final round, each panelist is given a series of eight fill-in-the-blank questions about news stories, both serious and frivolous, and must answer as many as he or she can in one minute, scoring two points for each correct answer. After the quiz, the panelist with the highest score is declared the week's champion (in the event of a tie for first place, the tying contestants are declared co-champions). Panelists do not receive prizes for winning.

Panelists' PredictionsEdit

Following the credits at the end of the show, the three panelists are asked to offer a comic "prediction" about an ongoing news story, often one discussed earlier in the program.

TelevisionEdit

In 2008, National Public Radio reached an agreement with CBS Entertainment to create a television pilot of Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me![17] Peter Sagal and Carl Kasell would be in the pilot, and Doug Berman would be the executive producer.[18] The pilot was not picked up for regular production.

On November 16, 2011, BBC America announced that the show would make its television debut with a "2011 Year in Review" special airing on December 23, to be retransmitted by NPR stations on the 24th and 25th. The taping included two American panelists—"Wait Wait" regulars Paula Poundstone and Alonzo Bodden—and British newcomer Nick Hancock.[19]

Live cinemaEdit

On 2 May 2013, an episode was performed at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in New York City and was streamed live via satellite to hundreds of cinema theaters throughout the United States and Canada.[20] The show included host Peter Sagal, announcer Carl Kasell, and panelists Mo Rocca, Paula Poundstone, and Tom Bodett. Celebrity guest Steve Martin won in the Not My Job segment.[21]

ParodiesEdit

Al Franken's former talk radio show, The Al Franken Show, contained a segment called "Wait Wait... Don't Lie to Me!", where contestants had to determine if a soundbite played was truth, lie, or "weasel" (technically true, but designed to deceive).

The podcast Welcome to Night Vale's fictional community radio station alludes to a show following Cecil's news broadcast titled "Wait, Wait, Don't! No, Don't! Please, Don't!"

AwardsEdit

 
Peter Sagal and the crew of Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me at the 67th Annual Peabody Awards

In April 2008, Wait Wait won a Peabody Award.[22] The program website was nominated for a Webby Award for Humor in 2008.[23]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "BJ Leiderman, NPR Biography". NPR. Retrieved 2007-04-25.
  2. ^ Johnson, Steve (December 19, 2016). "NPR's 'Wait Wait' is even more fun live". Chicago Tribune.
  3. ^ "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me Ticketing". WBEZ Chicago.
  4. ^ "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!- August 12, 2006". npr.org. Retrieved 2011-02-03.
  5. ^ "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!- August 27, 2005". www.npr.org. Retrieved 2011-02-03.
  6. ^ "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!- August 14, 2004". www.npr.org. Retrieved 2011-02-03.
  7. ^ Roti, Jessi. "Tom Hanks to guest host 'Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me' in Chicago". chicagotribune.com.
  8. ^ 'Wait Wait' For March 11, 2017: Guest Host Jessi Klein with Not My Job Guest Neal Brennan
  9. ^ Adams, Erik (March 4, 2014). "Carl Kasell steps down from Wait Wait… Don't Tell Me". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2017-07-11.
  10. ^ ""Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me" website". NPR. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
  11. ^ a b Pham, Linh. "NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!: Stats and Show Details". Retrieved 30 January 2014.
  12. ^ "Not My Job: Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales". Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!. NPR. November 4, 2006. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  13. ^ Madeleine Albright (6 December 2003). "Not My Job!". Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! (Interview: Audio). Interviewed by Peter Sagal. NPR/WGBH. Retrieved 2008-01-13.
  14. ^ Salman Rushdie (9 September 2001). "Not My Job!". Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! (Interview: Audio). Interviewed by Peter Sagal. NPR/WGBH. Retrieved 2008-01-13.
  15. ^ Brenna, Susan (4 June 2006). "NPR's 'Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me!' You Can't Make This Stuff Up. Or Can You?". [New York Times]. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  16. ^ "Not My Job: 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner Gets Quizzed On Glad Men," from NPR.org (3/28/2015)
  17. ^ 'Wait' may soon get answer on TV vision, Chicago Tribune, September 9, 2008
  18. ^ "Wait, Wait" To Become TV Show? - mediabistro.com
  19. ^ "BBC America And NPR To Bring Wait Wait… Don't Tell Me! To TV In December". November 16, 2011. Archived from the original on August 4, 2018. Retrieved August 4, 2018.
  20. ^ "Fathom Events - Wait Wait..Don't Tell Me!". Retrieved 2013-05-03.
  21. ^ "See the Show". npr.org. National Public Radio. 15 March 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
  22. ^ 67th Annual Peabody Awards, May 2008.
  23. ^ "Webby Nominees". Webby Awards. 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-29.

External linksEdit