A native of Berkeley Heights, N.J., Peter Sagal attended Harvard University and subsequently squandered that education while working as a literary manager for a regional theater, a movie publicist, a stage director, an actor, an extra in a Michael Jackson video, a travel writer, an essayist, a ghost writer for a former adult film impresario and a staff writer for a motorcycle magazine.
He is the author of numerous plays that have been performed in large and small theaters around the country and abroad, including Long Wharf Theater, Actors Theater of Louisville, Seattle Repertory, and Florida Stage. He has also written a number of screenplays, including Savage, a cheesy vehicle for obscure French kickboxer Olivier Gruner, and Cuba Mine, an original screenplay that became, without his knowledge, the basis for Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights.
Among Sagal's honors in the theater are a DramaLogue award for directing, grants from the Jerome and McKnight Foundations and a residency grant at the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France. He has been commissioned to write new plays by the Seattle Repertory Theater and the Wind Dancer Theater and has been invited to work on his plays at Sundance, the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center and the New Harmony Project.
In 1997, Peter joined the panel of a new news quiz show on NPR, co-produced by WBEZ-Chicago, that made its debut on-air in January of 1998. In May of that year, he moved to Chicago to become the host of the show. Since then, Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! has become one of the most popular shows on public radio, heard by nearly three million listeners on 520 public radio stations nationwide, and heard by a million people every month via podcast.
With Wait Wait, Peter has traveled around the country, playing to sold-out theaters from Seattle to Miami to Boston to Los Angeles, and many points in between, such as, for example, Akron. He's asked Salman Rushdie about PEZ dispensers, Tom Hanks about Hollywood bad boys, then-Senator Barack Obama about the eccentricities of Wade Boggs, and inquired as to Madeleine Albright's weightlifting accomplishments. The show made history in 2007 when, in May, Stephen Breyer became the first sitting Supreme Court Justice to appear on a quiz show, and then, in July, in front of ten thousand fans at Chicago's Millennium Park, Peter conducted the first (and so far, only) personal interview with United States Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald since his conviction of White House Aide Scooter Libby.
In 2008, Wait Wait celebrated its 10th anniversary on the air, and was the recipient of a Peabody Award for excellence in broadcasting. A year later, in the fall of 2009, Wait Wait made its New York debut with a show at Carnegie Hall, which sold out in the first 90 minutes after tickets went on sale.
In October 2007, Harper Collins published Peter's first book, The Book of Vice: Naughty Things and How to Do Them, a series of essays about bad behavior, which was released in paperback in 2008. He is also a regular columnist for Runner's World, and has completed the Chicago, New York and Boston Marathons. He was named by New Jersey Jewish News as one of the top ten Jewish entertainers from New Jersey.
It takes more than a couple brain cells to make this show what it is... so let's give credit where credit's due.
Peter Sagal — Host
Prior to becoming host of Wait Wait in 1998, Peter had a varied career including stints as a playwright, screenwriter, stage director, actor, extra in a Michael Jackson video, travel writer, essayist, ghostwriter and staff writer for a motorcycle magazine. In October 2007, Harper Collins published Peter's first book, The Book of Vice: Naughty Things and How to Do Them, a series of essays about bad behavior, which was released in paperback in 2008. He lives in the Chicago area with his family. Since he now has his own Web site, he is finally a real boy.
Bill Kurtis – Judge and Scorekeeper
For many, Bill Kurtis was the face, the voice, and the hair of the news in Chicago. Along with his co-anchor, Walter Jacobson, Bill brought authority and integrity to CBS-affiliate WBBM. Since then, he's produced and hosted such shows as Investigative Reports, American Justice, and Cold Case Files; and was also the narrator of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. Essentially, if you hear Bill Kurtis saying your name, you've either committed a terrible crime, or you're Will Ferrell. Bill is also the founder of Tallgrass Beef Company, where, every night, he lulls his grass-fed cows to sleep by reading them a bed time story.
Carl Kasell — Scorekeeper Emeritus
Carl Kasell is the scorekeeper emeritus for Wait Wait and is an all-around genius and great guy. A veteran broadcaster, Carl launched his radio career more than 50 years ago. He was a newscaster for NPR's daily newsmagazine Morning Edition from the show's beginning in 1979 until December 2009. Carl now enjoys sleeping past 1:05 am, and he sometimes moonlights as a magician. Click here to listen to some of the messages that Carl has put on the answering machines of some of our lucky winners.