DJ Hari remembers Carl Kasell

I remember the car rides to my grandmother’s house every Sunday. At 11 am, my father would always turn the radio on, turning the dial until it reached 89.3, KPCC, one of the NPR affiliates in Los Angeles. A low baritone voice would always blare over old-fashioned radio news jingles.

“From NPR, and WBEZ in Chicago, this is Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me, the NPR News Quiz.”

That low baritone voice was that of Carl Kasell, whose tenure on Wait, Wait from my own birth year, 1998, to 2014 was the soundtrack of my family’s weekly drives to my grandmother’s house. This was my first introduction into this man with a golden voice.

Before Wait, Wait Carl Kasell had begun his career as a child in North Carolina who would pretend to be a radio newscaster. By age 16, he was DJ for a music show, later going to have music shows in University of North Carolina’s WUNC until he moved to Virginia in the 1965. In a time where so much was happening historically — the Vietnam War, protests in Washington, assassinations of politicians and civil rights leaders — Kasell became the news director of WAVA in Arlington, Virginia.

Live taping of Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me! in 2010

He soon joined NPR as an announcer for All Things Considered and became the anchor for Morning Edition at its inception. When NPR launched Wait, Wait in 1998, Kasell became the announcer and scorekeeper, with an unpredictable sense of humor. His regular segments included “Who’s Carl This Time?”, where listeners were ask to identify who Kasell was mimicking from the week’s news in his old-timey announcer voice, and the “Listener Limerick Challenge”, where listeners were asked to identify the last word in a news-related limerick, also delivered in Kasell’s deadpan delivery. You were given three chances. Win two and you won. Winners of games on Wait, Wait were awarded a prize, not of money or certificates of any kind. No, they won something much more valuable: the voice of Carl Kasell on their home answering machine.

I would always play along, pretending I’d just called in. I even made sure I had watched or listened to the news each week so I’d be prepared for the show. I hoped one day I could call in and win that sweet, sweet old baritone that reminds me of the drives to my grandma’s.

 

Carl Kasell passed away on April 17 due to complications with Alzheimer’s. He was 84 years old. Although he no longer announces on Wait, Wait, you can still win his voice on your voicemail.

This Just In–From Outdoors!

KZSC’s new schedule has a fresh addition to the news department! “This Just In–From Outdoors!” is an environmentally focused news show that airs on KZSC every Friday from 7:00pm – 7:30pm. The focus of the program is to educate out listeners about local environmental issues, and to train incoming KZSC DJs on the art of radio reporting.

The program is made up of a large and varied team of programmers, from our fearless leader/editor “Chief” Keith Rozendal, to students in our Intro to Radio Course, to Cabrillo College students who will be contributing to future broadcasts!

The talk programming department is growing at KZSC, and I hope to see “This Just In–From Outdoors!” go far and last long. Santa Cruz has always prided itself on being the most forward thinking and environmentally friendly UC, and we are working to keep that tradition alive here at KZSC.

Weekday Morning News

If you listen to KZSC weekday mornings, you know we serve up a big gulp of hot music to start your day. We also feature a news update from KPFA/Pacifica at 8 AM. Our question: would you rather NOT hear the morning news updates at 8 AM? Do you like hearing what’s going on in the world during your morning music? Read what others have said and leave a comment of your own below.

Blue Line Radio

I have often been on the air late night here @ KZSC. After 10 pm, radio station have been given what the FCC refers to as “Safe-Harbor Hours”, where DJs are allowed to play content of a more adult nature. Though I am quite happy to spin things that may challenge views on race, politics, religion, drugs, sexuality and even music, there are a few things I will not broadcast. One of those things is not airing content that supports violence against the police or content which suggests that they do violence against themselves. Though I feel no need to argue my point, I will tell you a short story that goes back to a time when Ronald Reagan was not yet president. I once met a blind Polish American lawyer who could play one hell of a mean piano.  He was also a very wise man who saw deeply into life without the need of sight. We got to talking about the role of police in society, saying he should be the police and I should be the police. He said that unless you are willing to be the police, to do that job, please think carefully before criticizing them. They do things everyday that you and I would never do even if we had someone else’s ten-foot pole with which to do it. It’s a tough, dangerous job that must be done since all societies produce addicted, deranged, obsessed & insane people willing to do anything. The police are on a thin blue line for us. Next time you hear someone bitching about the cops, ask them to apply for the job.

Henry: My Hero

Have you ever wondered what kind of spider that is in your bedroom window? Is it a wolf spider? Is it a black widow? (If you responded yes to the last question, kill the spider immediately. Please.)  No matter what species of spider encroaches on your personal space, you have to admit–it’s nice having him around. His name might be Henry. He might be a bulbous orb weaver (Google images of “orb weaver,” I dare you). A few things about Henry are definite. He’s there every evening when you get home from a long day of work. He always says the right things. He knows you pretty well–that you try to match your underwear to your socks but the blues are a little bit off, that you watch Big Bang Theory very late at night. Your spider hates you for that, by the way; one of his eight tiny legs face palms his tiny face. But he’ll never judge you. He’ll watch you and lure you in with his exotic ways and love you from afar until you love him back. Kind of like KZSC. Both Henry and KZSC are delightfully predictable, even when you’re Facebook stalking Marty O’Reilly (http://martyoreilly.com/): they can always be found on the web.

Check out The Cruz Report Tuesday nights 8-8:30pm.

 

Santa Cruz Surf Legend Jay Moriarty Portrayed in “Chasing Mavericks”

“Hey Emma,” you might ask, “is that your brother?” Wrong guess. It’s 23-year-old up-and-coming Hollywood movie star, Jonny Weston. Jonny costars in the film Chasing Mavericks with Gerard Butler (remember Leonidas in 300, The Phantom in Phantom of the Opera–that guy). In Chasing Mavericks, Butler plays surf mentor/father figure Frosty to Jonny, who plays the late Santa Cruz surfing legend Jay Moriarty. As most locals know, Jay Moriarty was an accomplished big wave surfer from Santa Cruz who made it big internationally when a photo of his wipeout at Mavericks landed the cover of Surfer Magazine in 1995 (Jay was 16). He died while free-diving in the Indian Ocean just before his 23rd birthday. Of course the weight of Jay’s history put Jonny under a magnifying glass.When asked what it was like playing Jay Moriarty, Jonny replied, “It was awesome at first. I was like, ‘hell yeah, I’m paying a real live character. When it started catching up with me, I realized how affected people were by this guy. I started freaking out–I mean freaking out. God bless Kim (Jay’s wife) for taking phone calls from me at 2 in the morning.” Jonny admitted, “I began to be terrified by the responsibility of it.” The approval of his performance from Kim Moriarty and the rest of Jay’s family was only the “second best thing” that he could have heard. “He’s the only person in the world that I would be satisfied to hear the opinion of” Jonny said. The entire interview with Jonny Weston will be aired on KZSC’s show, The Cruz Report on Tuesday, November 6 at 8 pm.

Photography by Kohar Minassian.