ELKHART — Almost 1,800 NPR fans packed the Lerner Theatre for a live recording of “Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me” that will air on the radio this weekend.
Host Peter Sagal and official judge and scorekeeper Carl Kasell took the show on the road to downtown Elkhart on Thursday, Nov. 21. Fans of the quirky news quiz show got a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on during a 90-minute taping of “Wait Wait
Don’t Tell Me,” a Peabody Award-winning program based in Chicago that broadcasts on Saturdays to millions of listeners all over the world.
“It was a great event, the largest attendence to a ticketed event at the Lerner to date,” theater general manager David Smith said. “Personally, I’m a fan of ‘Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me,’ so experiencing it in that live format was pretty special.”
The Lerner Theatre and WVPE 88.1 FM, Michiana’s public radio station, announced in March that the show would be coming to Elkhart. The event sold out during WVPE’s fall membership campaign, which raised almost $157,000 for the station. Overflow seating was set up in the Crystal Ballroom on the theater’s second floor where fans were able to watch a live stream of the show.
“People I ran into going into the theater were really excited,” WVPE station manager Anthony Hunt said. “I can’t count the number of people who after the show used the same metaphor, telling me, ‘Anthony, you really hit this one out of the park.’”
Thursday’s recording marked the show’s first time in Elkhart. Sagal joked that he did his homework to prepare for his first time in the City with a Heart by watching “Parks and Recreation,” a television comedy series set in the fictional city of Pawnee, Ind.
The show’s celebrity panelists Brian Babylon, Faith Salie and Charlie Pierce kept the audience laughing with their quick-witted humor. Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw joined them on stage for a segment where she answered trivia questions about nursery rhymes and talked about her career and the art of trash talking on the court.
Jimtown NPR fans Kevin and Kate Johnston bought tickets to Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me as soon as they went on sale. Kevin Johnston said he loves the program because “it’s informative in a fun way.”
“It’s always new and interesting,” his wife added. “They always have a fresh way of looking at things.”
Clay Berkley, who grew up in Elkhart and lives in South Bend, got a front row seat to the show. He tunes in regularly for Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me’s topical, witty humor.
“I sometimes deliberately miss it if we’re going on vacation and download all of the podcasts to listen to on the road,” he said.
The show recorded in Elkhart will air at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 23, on WVPE 88.1 to more than 4 million listeners.