NPR: Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me Taping


Walking around a brisk, foggy, and pretty vacant downtown looking for my friend’s car.

I mentioned that I stopped over in Chicago on my way to a conference in New Orleans. Was glad to catch up with my family and some friends. Also had a chance to meet up with a friend from campus with whom I had reconnected via Facebook (as one is wont to do). She is also a fan of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me and so, we went a taping while I was in town. The “Not My Job” guest for that week? Arne Duncan.

First of all, for whatever I think of his tenure as Secretary of Education and all the things going on with the school closings in CPS, he seems very loyal to President Obama. When probed about their basketball games, all he’d really say was that the President is very competitive and brings his A-game to whatever he’s doing. He is very tall. His sister (who was also a basketball player) is also very tall (she was at the taping). He played pro b-ball in Australia for a little bit post-college. (Last time I was at the taping, President Clinton was the “Not My Job” guest via phone, which also made for an interesting experience. It was clear he had never listened to the show… his responses to the questions were like 20-30 minutes long. At one point, Peter Sagel said to the audience “It’s not like I could cut him off. I mean, he was president of the United States.” The audience laughed sympathetically.)

If you’re in Chicago (or visiting) and a NPR fan, I highly recommend coming out to a taping. It’s always interesting to see a radio show being taped (and it’s interesting seeing what gets edited out of the final program that is aired that weekend). And if you’re a news buff, even better. Tickets go on sale on Fridays online and usually sell out within a day. They say that you can come and be waitlisted, but it’s pretty packed when I’ve gone and so, that’s a bit risky. You also have to queue to sit down (everyone stands in an imaginary roped off queue which would never work in Central Asia) so expect to wait about 20 minutes-ish before heading into the auditorium. And if you bring your Kindle, this is definitely not a crowd that would judge you. 🙂 It was funny though – the whole time I was in line, I kept saying to my friend, “Seriously, this would never happen in CA. No one would stand in orderly make believe lines. No one.” Small moments of cross-cultural comparison.


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