NPR Newscaster Signs Off
STEVE EXUM ’ 92
The good news is that you still have a
chance to get his voice on your home answering
machine. The other news is that Carl Kasell
’ 56 has retired that authoritative voice from
duties as anchor of the hourly news update on
National Public Radio’s Morning Edition.
He also had shown
promise as an actor, getting
encouragement in that
direction from his high
school drama teacher, Andy
NPR announced in November that Kasell
would leave that job at the end of 2009 after
more than 30 years.
Griffith ’ 49. In the job he
will be keeping, as judge
and scorekeeper on the
NPR quiz show Wait Wait
Kasell worked in radio in his native Goldsboro
before heading to Washington in the 1960s. He
began part time with NPR in 1975 and joined
Morning Edition when it began in 1979, his listening audience eventually growing larger than
NBC’s Today Show viewing audience. Along
the way he reported on the Iranian students
taking over the U.S. Embassy in Iran in 1979,
the Berlin Wall coming down in 1989 and the
terrorist attacks of 9/11.
… Don’t Tell Me!, he uses his
drama skills to recite limericks based on the news and
quotes in the voices of news-makers. The weekly show
features media celebrities and
callers answering questions about the news,
including headline stories and obscure oddi-ties. Winners are rewarded with a recording of
Carl Kasell ’ 56 had been doing double duty with NPR’s Morning Edition news show and
Wait Wait... Don’t Tell Me! game show. He is sticking with the game show after retiring
Kasell’s voice for their answering machine.
Kasell started in radio as a teenager, and at
UNC he spent most of his time in the Swain
Hall studios of WUNC, then run by students,
including fellow future broadcasting star
Charles Kuralt ’ 55.
Giving up the newscast and sticking with
the game show means a big schedule change
for Kasell, who rose at 1:05 a.m. weekdays to
head to the studio and prepare for the first
newscast at 5 a.m.
“Folks always asked why I didn’t just get up at
1 a.m.,” Kasell joked on an NPR blog announc-
ing his retirement. “I said I wanted to sleep in.”
— Keith King ’ 82
ONLINE: A profile of Kasell from the
November/December 2001 Carolina Alumni
Review is available to GAA members at
One way to break into theatrical production
is to work slowly through the backstage world.
Another is to put your ear to the grapevine.
“You find out what projects are circulating,” says Brian Fenty ’08. He should know.
Just a year out of Carolina, he signed on as a
producer for the Broadway debut of David
“Mamet is hot,” Fenty says. Oleanna was the
third Mamet play to open on Broadway this
season. That put Fenty center-stage backstage.
“I wanted to tackle my first foray into produc-
ing as if I was applying to grad school,” he
says. “I wanted a team of great people to teach
me. Jeffrey Finn and the team with Oleanna
have a long track record of shows that make
money and have integrity.”
Fenty says Finn’s production company had
already put together a strong package before
he came on board. Friends raved about walking
home after the 1992 Off-Broadway production
Mixes Moxie, Money
locked in discussion. Oleanna is an intense
drama in which a female student and her male
professor face off in a power struggle. Julia
Fenty was a child actor with more than 60
professional roles behind him when he discovered his knack for promotion, raising $5,000 as
student producer and director of Cabaret while
in high school. He brought in Broadway musicians and a professional designer. Fenty chose
UNC over Yale and Brown universities
because of his interest in entrepreneurship. “I
majored in marketing and journalism at UNC.
I met [economics professor Burton] ‘Buck’
Goldstein ’ 70, and I realized I truly was an
Stiles and Bill Pullman were set as the stars.
Fenty’s job was to formulate a strategy for filling the house and keeping the project solvent.
COURTESY OF BRIAN FENT Y ’08
At UNC, Fenty undertook a production of
Uncle Morty’s Funeral, written by Joanna
Zelman ’08. “It was the first time I used what
I had been learning in entrepreneurship class
to weigh risks and rewards. We made money
even though the goal was just to break even. ...
I knew early on that I had that gut for having a
little more control of the creative process, for
understanding why audience members come
in, and why they enjoy the show.”
Oleanna previewed in Los Angeles over the
summer and ran on Broadway from October
through the New Year. Even with that experience to his list of credits, Fenty says that producing is a chancy business. He won’t be quit-ting his day job at Hamilton Investment
Partners just yet.
Brian Fenty ’08 says he wanted “to tackle my first foray
into producing as if I was applying to grad school.”