Radio lost a true legend on Apr. 17 with the sad passing of Carl Kasell. We’ve got five things to know about the lifelong broadcaster and NPR newscaster for more than 30 years.
So sad! For over thirty years Carl Kasell‘s smooth baritone voice delivered the news on NPR and he even brought humor as the host of the weekly quiz show Wait Wait…Dont’ Tell Me. He retired from radio in 2014 after spending nearly his entire life on the airwaves, and he passed away on Apr. 17 from complications due to Alzheimers at his home in Potomoc, Maryland. His voice was a familiar presence on the radio for generations of listeners and we’ve got five things to know about Carl.
1. Carl knew he wanted to work in radio even as a child.
“I sometimes would hide behind the radio and pretend I was on the air,” he said in a 2009 interview, while recalling his childhood growing up in Goldsboro, NC. He later got his first gig spinning records on a local late night radio station at the age of 16.
2. Carl almost went into theater thanks to legendary TV icon Andy Griffith being his high school drama teacher.
Before Andy broke into superstardom with his own self-titled TV show, he was a drama teacher at Carl’s high school. Carl had a talent for acting and his instructor Andy urged him to pursue a career in theater. But Carl’s heart was always in radio and he chose that as his occupation.
3. Carl was the longtime newscaster of NPR’s Morning Edition.
From its inception in 1979 through 2009, Carl’s smooth and calming voice of reason read the news on NPR’s popular morning show. He got the gig after hosting the weekend edition of All Things Considered starting in 1975.
4. Carl showed off his wicked sense of humor on his weekly radio quiz show Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me.
While he spent 30 years as a serious newsman, he showed off his lighter side as the judge and scorekeeper on the weekly quiz show since its inception in 1988. Even when he retired from Morning Edition in 2009, he stayed on the air with Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me until 2014. The prize for winning was to have Carl record the greeting for someone’s home answering machine or voice mail, and its estimated that his voice greeted the callers to over 2,000 victors.
5. Carl gave Katie Couric her very first job in broadcast journalism.
Before joining NPR, he was the news director at WAVA (AM) in Arlington, Virginia. Katie was a student at the University of Virginia at the time and Carl hired her on as a summer intern, launching her now legendary broadcasting career. She paid tribute to him on Instagram by writing “#RIP Carl Kasell, the man with the mellifluous voice and giant heart, who gave me my first big break in the business. He was one of the kindest people I’ve ever known.”