03/22/13 — Kasell named North Carolinian of the Year

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Kasell named North Carolinian of the Year

By Dennis Hill
Published in News on March 22, 2013 1:46 PM

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Carl Kasell, right, is seen with News-Argus publisher Hal Tanner III at the N.C. Press Association Awards Ceremony Thursday night.

CHAPEL HILL -- Goldsboro native and National Public Radio broadcasting legend Carl Kasell was named North Carolinian of the Year on Thursday night by the state Press Association.

The award was presented by News-Argus publisher Hal Tanner III, the president of the Press Association, at its annual meeting and awards ceremony.

Kasell, 78, began his broadcasting career in Goldsboro and went on to become one of the most beloved voices in radio, first as the anchor of NPR's morning news show, "All Things Considered," and then later as the host of the network's popular quiz show, "Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me."

Now technically retired, he continues to travel around the county helping with NPR fundraisers as a roving ambassador.

"I've never worked a day in my life," Kasell said, referring to his love of his job. "I don't do any work. I'm in radio. I'm just having fun. The career I've had has been so interesting."

He applauded his comrades at NPR, calling it "one of the best news organization's anywhere," and described the station's coverage of such major news events as the Challenger shuttle disaster and the attacks of Sept. 11, 2011.

"Things were happening so quickly the news was outdated by the time you got on the air," he said. "I'd be putting together the newscast as I did it."

Kasell fell in love with radio as a boy growing up in Goldsboro.

"I used to hide behind the radio at home and pretend I was on the air," he told the assembly of journalists at the awards ceremony at the Hill Alumni Center on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

While in high school, he got a job working at WGBR and after college at UNC and a stint in the military he landed a job in 1965 with WABA radio, an all-news station.

In 1975 he began as the announcer for NPR's newscast, "All Things Considered." After years at the helm of that program, he was asked in 1998 to shift gears and be the co-host of a quiz show called "Wait, wait, don't tell me."

His celebrity increased as star guests on the show made it wildly popular. He told the audience that with a small budget, the show could not afford to give away prizes to its winners, so his producers asked if he would use his distinctive voice to record telephone messages for the winners.

To date, he said, he has recorded more than 3,000.

Kasell summed up his career by saying "You never know what's going to happen in broadcasting.

"It's been a good career. I've tried to be good to it and I think it has been even better for me."

He said he doesn't consider himself retired and will continue to do spots on NPR as circumstances dictate.

"Until they run me out, I'll be behind that microphone," he said.