With the announcement that he is leaving the role of scorekeeper, judge, and unofficial mascot on National Public Radio’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me, Carl Kasell’s five decades in broadcasting will come to an end this spring. While many NPR listeners came to know Kasell as the voice of Morning Edition from 1979 through 2009, it was Wait Wait’s cheeky look at the week that was that elevated the veteran newsman to a unique level of merchandisable cult adoration. Gamely playing straight man to excitable host Peter Sagal, Kasell has wryly punctuated Wait Wait tapings since the news quiz’s 1998 debut, tracking points for the rotating panel of comedians and participating in segments like “Who’s Carl This Time?”, in which politicians, celebrities, and average folks alike are given the same authoritative voice that anchored NPR newscasts for 34 years. In a nod to the show’s standard listener prize—a voicemail message recorded by the Official Judge and Scorekeeper himself—Wait Wait fans are encouraged to turn the tables on Kassel, with an invitation to leave notes of appreciation and well wishes at 1-888-Wait-Wait. (That’s 1-888-924-8924). In his new role as Scorekeeper Emeritus, Kassel will continue to voice silly outgoing recordings for people who can properly fill in the blanks in topical limericks.
Mixed in with his own tweeted tributes to his longtime collaborator, Sagal noted that a replacement for Kassel has yet to be found. Interested parties should probably consider whether or not their face will make a good pillow.