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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
Genre Game show
Running time ca. 50 min.
Country  United States
Languages English
Home station WBEZ
Syndicates NPR, WBEZ
Announcer Carl Kasell
Creators Doug Berman
Producers Emily Ecton
Mike Danforth
Ian Chillag
Eva Wolchover
Exec. producers Doug Berman
Recording studio Chicago, Illinois
Air dates since 1998
Audio format Stereophonic
Opening theme B.J. Leiderman[1] (composer)
Website Website
Podcast Podcast

Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! is an hour-long weekly radio news quiz game show produced by Chicago Public Radio and National Public Radio. It is distributed by NPR in the United States and on the Internet via podcast, and typically broadcast on weekends by member stations.



The show is hosted by playwright and actor Peter Sagal. When the program debuted 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 Luke Burbank, Adam Felber, and Richard Sher when Peter Sagal is on vacation. [2][3][4]

Carl Kasell, who also served as the newsreader on Morning Edition, is the show's official judge and scorekeeper. Each week, a panel of three is chosen to participate in the program; frequent panelists include Roy Blount, Jr., Tom Bodett, Luke Burbank, Amy Dickinson, Sue Ellicott, Adam Felber, Kyrie O'Connor, P.J. O'Rourke, Charlie Pierce, Paul Provenza, Paula Poundstone, Roxanne Roberts, Mo Rocca, Alison Stewart and Julia Sweeney.

Wait Wait... listeners also participate by telephoning or sending e-mails 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. The usual prize for winning any game is to have Carl Kasell record a greeting on the contestant's home answering machine or voice mail system. In most cases, the contestants are given a bit of latitude in getting the correct answer, such as getting another guess and a hint should they initially guess wrong, or being credited for being able to identify everything about a newsmaker except their name. These games include:

Ask Carl
Carl Kasell reads made up inbox messages from "newsmakers with troubles". The listener must then identify who the newsmaker is. Two correct answers out of three constitutes a win. Debuted on May 9, 2009.
Carl Kasell reads made up Facebook status updates. The listener must then identify who posted the update. Two correct answers out of three constitutes a win. Debuted on March 14, 2009.
Who's Carl This Time?
The contestant must identify the speaker or explain the context of three quotations read by Carl Kasell. Two correct answers constitutes a win. In a variation of this game, Carl Kasell's Countdown, three popular songs are played and the contestant must identify the related news story. In another variation (debuting on May 18, 2008), Carl Kasell's Answering Machine, Carl Kasell reads three fictitious voice mail messages based on recent events.
Bluff the Listener
The contestant hears three odd but related news stories read by the panelists. Two of the stories are invented by two panelists, with the actual story being read by the remaining panelist. The listener must determine which one is true and not a product of the panelists' imaginations. The show uses a sound bite from the actual story (either the newsmaker himself or herself, or a reporter or expert familiar with the story) to reveal the answer. (This is one of the few games where the contestant cannot receive any hints at the correct answer or receive partial credit for being "close enough" to the actual answer.)
An Internet Destination Called Carlslist
Carl Kasell reads postings from the fictional Internet site "Carlslist" (a parody of Craigslist) based on recent news events. The contestant must guess the person or event being referred to in the "posting" to score points. Debuted on October 21, 2006.
Listener Limerick Challenge
The contestant must identify the last word or phrase in three news-related limericks read by Carl Kasell. Two correct answers constitutes a win.
Not My Job
A specially invited guest takes a three-question multiple-choice quiz on a topic completely unrelated to the celebrity's field, with a unique appropriate category name used each week. Originally, the guests on these segments were NPR personalities and reporters, but the pool of guests later expanded to include mostly celebrity guests, ranging from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who was asked questions on the history of Hugh Hefner and Playboy magazine,[5] to author Salman Rushdie who was asked about the history of Pez candy.[6] Two correct answers constitute a win and the prize goes to a randomly selected listener who contacted the show but was not chosen as a contestant. At least one exception to this rule has been recorded when, in June 2005, Sagal made an "executive ruling" in favor of then-major Robert Bateman, who was participating as the celebrity from his station in Baghdad, Iraq.
See List of Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! guests for a full list of participants.
Wait Wait... Television
Carl Kasell reads commercials for fictional television shows based on recent news events. The contestant must guess the person that the "commercial" references to score a point. As with the other games, two correct answers out of three possible yields the prize. Debuted on October 1, 2006. In a variation of this game, called Carlvision (debuted April 11, 2009) Carl Kasell reads fictitious program descriptions (based on news events) for actual current or former television programs as such descriptions might appear in TV Guide, and the contestant must identify the newsmaker or event; two out of three correct answers are required to win.

In between games, Peter Sagal asks the panelists questions from the week's news and the panelists earn points by giving correct answers. These questions are generally based on less-newsworthy stories of the week, and phrased similar to questions in The Match Game or Hollywood Squares to allow the panel to give a comedic answer should they be unaware of the real one. A panelist also earns a point if a contestant chooses his/her story in the Bluff the Listener game, whether that story was true or made-up. At the end of the show, the panelists take a Lightning Fill-In-The-Blank quiz. Each panelist is given a series of eight fill-in-the-blank questions about news stories, and must answer as many as he or she can (the stories become more frivolous and humorous as the quiz progresses) and are scored 2 points for each correct answer. After the quiz, all the points are totaled, and 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.

The show typically closes with the Panelists' Predictions, during which each panelist provides a headline that is designed more to make the listener laugh than to actually predict a real news story. That segment usually ends with Carl Kasell stating that if any of those come true, "we'll ask you about it on Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!"

Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! is recorded in front of a live audience at Chicago's Chase Auditorium in the Chase Tower on Thursday nights. 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 often travels to various cities in the United States and produces a road show in front of a live audience for promotional and station relation purposes.

Several shows a year, usually around holiday periods, revolve around past segments compiled into one episode, or 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 WBEZ's studio facilities.

Television pilot

National Public Radio has made an agreement with CBS Entertainment to create a television pilot of Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me![7] Peter Sagal and Carl Kasell will be in the pilot, and Doug Berman will be the executive producer.[8] After the pilot is complete, CBS will decide whether to produce a television series.


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).


In April 2008, Wait Wait won a Peabody Award.[9] The program website was nominated for a Webby Award for Humor in 2008.[10]


  1. ^ "BJ Leiderman, NPR Biography". NPR. Retrieved 2007-04-25.  
  2. ^ [1] Wait Wait — August 12, 2006 Host: Luke Burbank
  3. ^ [2] Wait Wait — August 27, 2005 Host: Adam Felber
  4. ^ [3] Wait Wait — August 14, 2004 Host: Richard Sher
  5. ^ Madeleine Albright. Interview with Peter Sagal. Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!. NPR/WGBH. 6 December 2003. (Interview [Audio]). Retrieved on 2008-01-13.
  6. ^ Salman Rushdie. Interview with Peter Sagal. Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!. NPR/WGBH. 9 September 2001. (Interview [Audio]). Retrieved on 2008-01-13.
  7. ^ 'Wait' may soon get answer on TV vision --
  8. ^ "Wait, Wait" To Become TV Show? -
  9. ^ National Public Radio (3 April 2008). "NPR's Irreverent News Quiz Show Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! Wins Peabody Award, Thanks Politicians, Newsmakers and Celebrities For Providing Fodder". Press release. Retrieved 2008-06-29.  
  10. ^ "Webby Nominees". Webby Awards. 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-29.  

External links



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