Carl Kasell Announces Retirement: Here Are 3 Things You Might Not Know About Him

Mar 4, 2014

Carl Kasell and Peter Sagal (delivering news by sidecar)
Credit Tony Nagelmann / NPR : Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!

Carl Kasell was the voice of NPR News for thirty years. He's in the National Radio Hall of Fame. In later life, he found fame as the official scorekeeper and voice of the popular weekend show Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me! Kasell announced his retirement Tuesday.

"My favorite time at NPR has been Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! It was loads of fun and gave me a chance to meet and talk to in person the audiences that I felt I had known for so many years on the air," says Carl. "I can honestly say I am the luckiest man around to be able to have worked at a job I love for so many years. It's truly been a joy for me."

You might not know that Kasell is a North Carolina native. He grew up in Goldsboro. He actually helped start WUNC when he was a student. (He worked with his buddy, future broadcasting legend Charles Kuralt.)

Here are 3 things we were surprised to learn about Carl Kasell:

  1. He got his start in drama: As a member of the Goldmasquers High School Drama Club, Kasell not only starred on stage, but he helped build and run a radio station at the high school. (The drama club used the audio for background sound in their plays.)
  2. He can recognize talent: Carl Kasell hired Katie Couric as an intern.
  3. The man is a magician: At one staff party, he successfully cut Nina Totenberg in half and then put her back together again.

We had some fun digging through the WUNC archives to find out more about Kasell. Here he is, performing in a play with future television star Andy Griffith at the "Lost Colony" at Roanoke Island. The show was performed in the 1950s and the play is still in production today:

Andy Griffith as Sir Walter Raleigh in 'The Lost Colony.' Carl Kasell, as Wanchese, is in the lower right corner of the photograph.
Credit North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives

Kasell was cast in the college production of The Lost Colony as a high school student and he says he got the part because of the strength of his voice. He told WUNC's Eric Hodge that he was in high school when he was invited to audition. "We went to Memorial Hall. [The director] put me in the back of the stage while he went to the back of the lobby. He gave me a script and said 'read.' Because back then we didn't use microphones on stage."

Drama, says Kasell, is how he learned to project his voice.

Here's an audio portrait NPR put together to mark Kasell's retirement from daily newscasting. It's well worth a listen:

In retirement, Carl will become Scorekeeper Emeritus of Wait Wait… Don't Tell Me!

Here's a fun invitation from NPR:
After recording so many messages for others, it's time we record a few for him.  Wait Wait fans are invited to leave our prized Official Judge and Scorekeeper a voice mail. Call 1-888-Wait-Wait (1-888-924-8924; select the second option).