Today we are pleased to celebrate the 78th birthday of a broadcasting legend, the wonderful Carl Kasell. Born in North Carolina in 1934, Carl knew from an early age that he was destined for radio.
Before I even started to school, I sometimes would hide behind the radio, which would be sitting on a table, and pretend that I was on the air, and try to fool people who came by to listen.
His father would take him to the local station where he was mesmerized by the latest news spilling out of the teletype. In high school, his drama coach was Andy Griffith, who encouraged him to pursue the theatre. Kasell was drawn to the radio, though, and while getting his degree from UNC Chapel Hill he co-founded the campus radio station with fellow student Charles Kuralt.
His career advanced from announcer at his hometown radios station to news director at Arlington, VA station WAVA (where he hired Katie Couric as an intern). He moved to NPR in 1975; he was one of the founding voices of Morning Edition, staying with the program from 1979 to 2009.
A clear, recognizable voice with an understanding of the world’s events, Kasell has always been a beacon of journalistic integrity. His dedication to ensuring that his listeners understand the issues at hand rather than just receiving the sensational highlights should serve as a lesson to the 21st Century pseudo-news scaremongers.
Carl Kasell also has a great sense of humor and refuses to take himself to seriously. He’s the long-time scorekeeper for the news comedy program Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me, a terrific outlet for his wit and charm. A highlight of TSM’s 2011 was the chance to see a live taping of the show last October and to meet Carl in person. It also showed the dedication of the program to social justice, teaching through humor.
Carl “retired” at the end of 2009, giving this lovely interview about his career. He’s still going strong, though, sharing his great talents with millions of lucky listeners every week. Happy Birthday, Carl!