In the Loop

"Wait, Wait . . . Don't Tell Me!" on your TV screen

Posted at 11:17 AM on September 8, 2008 by Sanden Totten (4 Comments)

TV can't seem to keep it's hands off public radio! First it was the intellectual stylings of This American Life. Then Car Talk went cartoon. And now CBS is piloting the NPR quiz show "Wait, Wait . . . Don't Tell Me!" as a game show.

I've pondered previously about why TV is suddenly so interested in its nerdier less popular cousin. My guess is that TV execs are secretly jealous of public radio's devoted listeners. If you're reading this blog, you're probably like me, a self-describe public radio junkie. What station wouldn't want some of that demographic?

But can you really translate that to TV? It doesn't look like Car Talk did that well. Reviews of the TAL show have been fairly good. But has it won over folks who never heard of Ira Glass before? And how much of the show's core audience jumped from the airwaves to Showtime? Or did they just wait for the season one DVD to become a pledge drive gift?

Either way, CBS is now getting in the game too. Truthfully, "Wait, Wait . . ." seems like a good bet. But if it does well, will public radio shows and TV become like comic books and Hollywood - where the success of a few crossovers inspire the industry to go mad and buy up every half-baked franchise out there?

And for the record, In The Loop is still waiting for its offer from HBO.

Comments (4)

YESSSSSSSS. "Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me!" is the greatest quiz show ever. I imagine it'll make a smooth transition to TV - but woe betide Chicago Public Radio if they EVER decide to cancel the radio version.

Best episode ever: the one where the listener contestant (a doctor) was actually in the middle of delivering a baby during her on-air time. She seemed so unconcerned - "the contractions aren't really that close together yet, we've got some time, so what's the next question?" A true public radio zealot. I hope the woman in labor was, too!

Posted by Alex Franzen | September 9, 2008 7:45 AM


Great story. That would have made riveting TV.

I wonder what the TV equivalent of Carl Kasell's voice on your answering machine would be? Would Carl take a facebook picture with you if you win?

Posted by Sanden Totten | September 9, 2008 9:30 AM

Maybe Carl would program your TiVo for a month?

Posted by Alex Franzen | September 9, 2008 8:57 PM

A.) I fear this will get a Hollywood treatment, and the panel, host, and variety of contestants will alter.

B.) I'm afraid my mental picture associated with the sound of their voice will be irreparably skewed, and personally a jolt.

But, I'm kind of fret over tampering with Public Radio.

Posted by Guthrie Horgan | September 15, 2008 3:31 AM

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