Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me Brings the Homestead to a Weekly Stand Still

By , February 7, 2010

Living semi-remotely on our homestead, we’re secluded, which is not to say isolated . . . except on Saturday mornings. Every Saturday we take steps to isolate ourselves as thoroughly as possible for an hour.

As 7:00 a.m. approaches, we make sure the phones and the C.B. radio are not turned on. We don’t go on line. Further, we rush to finish the noisier morning chores—riddling the wood stove, boiling the kettle, grinding coffee—before 7:00. At 7:00 we turn on KHNS, or local radio station, and turn it up a few clicks louder than normal. We’re ready for a highlight of our week: NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.

If you haven’t heard the show, I recommend it highly. It is ostensibly a quiz show based on the week’s news, but that’s almost beside the point. A rotating panel of three humorists—comedy writers, columnists, or comedians—answers questions posed by host, Peter Sagal, and judged by recently retired NPR news man, Carl Kasell. Panelists have included Adam Felber, Paula Poundstone, Mo Rocca, Julia Sweeney, former Alaskan Tom Bodett, and Roy Blount, Jr. This potent mix of personalities, ably assisted by a weekly guest newsmaker, some genuinely witty call-in contestants, and a live audience, makes a snarky, hilarious hash of current events. The weekly guests compete by proxy for a listener in a segment called “Not My Job,” answering multiple choice questions about subjects that they presumably know nothing about.

Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me is the only radio program we consistently listen to. We hear some news almost every day, but we’re willing to miss it if necessary. KHNS offers informative and entertaining programs, many of which we try to hear regularly, but only Wait Wait preempts all other activies. If we miss it, we’ll download the show’s weekly podcast as soon as it’s available on their Website.

We have to work at keeping quiet during the show. Listening to the news is a participatory sport for us. Opinions fly thick and fast. We discourage this behavior during Wait Wait—we risk missing something if we get started. It’s hard enough to briefly explain the many baby boomer references to Aly. We’ve downloaded some of the podcasts just to pick up something we missed when the urge to discuss overwhelmed us—or our laughter drowned it out.

We’re very lucky that KHNS schedules Wait, Wait when it does. Earlier would be fine—Michelle and I are often up by 5:00 or 5:30—but if it came any later in the day, it’d be very inconvenient. Most of our daily activities make listening to the radio difficult, so we mostly tune in at moments in the day when we gather in the cabin—meal times, essentially. Should they ever reschedule Wait Wait, we just might have to readjust our day around it!

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