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Longtime NPR broadcaster Carl Kasell has died at the age of 84 after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease, NPR announced Tuesday.
The unflappable Kasell with his reassuring baritone voice, delivered the news at the top of the hour for both for the network’s flagship news magazines “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered,” during his long career, before diving into a new role in the late 1990s as the comedic judge and scorekeeper of NPR’s satirical news quiz show “Wait, Wait ... Don’t Tell Me!”
Kasell started with NPR in 1975 as a part-time employee and contributor for “Weekend All Things Considered,” and four years later announced the news for the first broadcast of “Morning Edition,” a new morning show at the time, according to the network. He went on to become one of NPR’s most recognizable voices.
The prize for winning on “Wait Wait ... Don’t Tell Me!” was a custom-made voice recording of Kasell for answering machines or cellphone voice mails, and over the 16 years he was part of the show, he provided more than 2,200 recordings for contestants, according to NPR.
Quiz show co-host Peter Sagal called Kasell a “dear friend” in a Twitter post Tuesday.
“He was, and remains, the heart and soul of our show,” Sagal said.
I am extremely sad to tell you all that my dear friend and colleague for 16 years, Carl Kasell has passed away at the age of 84, from complications of Alzheimer's. He was, and remains, the heart and soul of our show.— ((((Peter Sagal)))) (@petersagal) April 17, 2018
Kassel retired from “Morning Edition” in 2009, but continued on “Wait Wait” for another five years.
Kasell, who was born in Goldsboro, North Carolina, in 1934, started in radio when he was 16 at a local radio station hosting a music program and continued his career in college at the school radio station at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His broadcasting career spanned more than 50 years in radio.
A sad day at NPR. RIP to our colleague and friend Carl Kasell at 84. A GREAT journalist he gave this network early credibility. Later, on WaitWaitDon'tTellMe the world learned something we already know -- just how hysterically funny he is! RIP Carl. Godspeed.— Don Gonyea NPR (@DonGonyea) April 17, 2018
He was married for 37 years to Clara de Zorzi, who died in 1997, according to The Washington Post, and married Mary Ann Foster in 2003.
He leaves behind a son from his first marriage and a stepson.
Kasell is also survived by a sister and four grandchildren.