If you’ve ever listened to National Public Radio, odds are you’ve heard Carl Kasell’s dulcet tones. The illustrious radio announcer worked at NPR for over 30 years, occupying roles from newscaster to game-show judge.* Kasell died April 17, at age 84, from complications related to Alzheimer’s disease.
According to Kasell’s obituary on NPR, he had a lifelong passion for radio that ran from miming announcements behind the radio in his living room all the way to judging and keeping score for NPR’s beloved quiz show Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me. He made essential contributions to NPR’s Morning Edition news broadcasts, including those made on September 11. “Seven newscasts, every morning … nobody in the business does that,” former Morning Edition host Bob Edwards said of Kasell. “That is incredible.”
Wait Wait host Peter Sagal heaped similar praise on Kasell, especially for his humor and bravura:
The greatest thing about Carl was anything we came up with, he was game. When we were in Las Vegas, we had him come onstage in a showgirl’s headdress. No matter what we asked him to do—silly voices, or weird stunts; we had him jump out of a cake once to make his entrance onstage—he did it [with] such joy and such dignity.
For a long time, the top prize to Wait Wait winners was Kasell’s voice on their answering machine. Listening to some of those recordings now—check out my favorite here—is doubly adorable and poignant.
*Correction, April 17, 2018: This post previously referred to Carl Kasell as a game-show host. Peter Sagal is the host of Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me, while Kasell was its judge and scorekeeper.