Peter Sagal

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.

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The Salt
2:20 pm
Mon November 24, 2014

Sandwich Monday: The Thanksgiving Hot Durkey

Happy Thanksgiving!
NPR

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 5:15 pm

Olson is a marketing company that promises its clients it will "revolutionize engagement" with its customers. In the case of client Oscar Meyer, this meant sending us eight packs of hot dogs, a loaf of bread, toothpicks, twine and instructions on how to make "the Hot Durkey," in the hope that it would go "viral," which is not the usual meaning of the word "viral" when applied to hot dogs.

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The Salt
2:05 pm
Mon September 29, 2014

Sandwich Monday: The Pizza Cake

And this is what we got.
NPR

Originally published on Tue October 21, 2014 10:10 am

I generally don't like cake, because it is too sweet, too bland in texture, and doesn't have enough pork products. So I was excited to see this recipe pop up on Buzzfeed. (UPDATE 10/21/2014: For those keeping score, it looks like So Good Blog rolled out this pizza cake recipe months earlier than Buzzfeed.)

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Arts & Life
6:01 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

'Wait Wait' Celebrates Carl Kasell, Our Official Judge and Scorekeeper

Carl decides to take a publicity photo shoot up a notch while Peter tickles the ivories.
Wait Wait Don't Tell Me NPR

Originally published on Fri May 16, 2014 12:00 pm

For 30 years, Carl anchored the newscast for Morning Edition, and in 1998 he became Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me's official scorekeeper. His last show will air on May 17. Following that, Carl will become Scorekeeper Emeritus and will continue to record voice mail greetings for our winners. In honor of Carl's last show, Peter Sagal reflects on their years working together.

Presumably, the day I was born was the most important day of my life, but I don't remember that. I do remember the day I met Carl Kasell, though, so that tops my personal list.

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The Salt
3:11 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Sandwich Monday: The Passover Sandwich

In the time of Exodus, the Hebrews had to travel the desert without reading material.
NPR

Originally published on Tue April 15, 2014 7:06 am

Why is this Sandwich Monday different from all other Sandwich Mondays? In honor of Passover, I introduced my non-Jewish colleagues to the wonders of the Passover lunch.

It's not the Seder meal, but what I might have brought to school for lunch back in the 1970s, when the affluent Jews of suburban New Jersey ate tasteless food to remind themselves that thousands of years ago, they didn't have nice professional jobs like being a lawyer, or maybe a CPA. That's a steady living. I know David Birnbaum does nicely as an accountant; maybe you could look into that?

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The Salt
4:00 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Sandwich Monday: Snail Sausage Sandwich

Where there was once a shell, there is now a hot dog bun.
NPR

Originally published on Mon April 7, 2014 2:01 pm

At Publican Quality Meats of Chicago, chefs make their famous snail sausage by leaving a hot dog bun out in the garden near the lettuces, waiting a bit, then snapping the bun shut.

Snails aren't good at fast getaways. Actually, Publican takes its pork sausage recipe and adds snail meat and lots of butter. We had ours with spicy hot mustard.

Peter: The trip to my mouth was the fastest those snails have ever moved.

Miles: Less escargot, more escarget-in-my-mouth.

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
4:53 pm
Thu October 3, 2013

Not My Job: Consultant James Carville Gets Quizzed On Couples

Originally published on Sat September 28, 2013 1:18 pm

James Carville is a Democratic political consultant, a TV pundit, and one half of the most famous mixed marriage in the country — his wife is Republican consultant Mary Matalin.

We've invited him to play a game called "You're like two peas in a pod!" Three questions about freakishly similar couples.

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The Salt
12:53 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

Sandwich Monday: PB&J Fries

Peter failed to hitch this to the back of his motorcycle and bring it back to Chicago for us.
NPR

Originally published on Mon August 19, 2013 2:55 pm

Canadians have given us so much, from the BlackBerry, a kind of phone your parents' older friends used to use, to Leslie Hope, the lady who played Kiefer Sutherland's wife in Season 1 of 24. But perhaps towering above all is poutine, which translated from the Quebecois is "stuff poured onto french fries." Usually it's some variation of cheese, meat and gravy, but I was told that in Portland, Ore. (naturally), at a food truck (naturally), you can get peanut butter and jelly on fries. So I went, naturally.

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The Salt
2:42 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

Sandwich Monday: Fried Peanut Butter And Banana

Melissa approaches with caution.
NPR

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 2:58 pm

It's strange to find a Fried Peanut Butter and Banana sandwich, famous as Elvis Presley's favorite, on a restaurant menu, given its effect on Elvis. It's like finding a store selling an Isadora Duncan commemorative scarf.

Nonetheless, freelance radio producer Melissa LaCasse and I decided to try the one offered by The Breslin in New York, listed as "fried peanut butter & banana sandwich with bourbon & vanilla."

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
6:52 pm
Sun March 17, 2013

Singer Huey Lewis Plays Not My Job

Courtesy Huey Lewis

Originally published on Sat March 16, 2013 9:29 am

In honor of their 30th anniversary, the 1980s band Huey Lewis and the News is re-releasing their iconic album, Sports.

We've invited Lewis to play a game called "You call yourself a newsman?" Three questions about interesting journalistic mistakes.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
11:04 am
Mon March 11, 2013

Secretary Of Education Arne Duncan Plays Not My Job

Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Sat March 9, 2013 9:50 am

Arne Duncan is President Obama's secretary of education, and if, while he's on this show, a disaster befalls the president, the vice president, the speaker of the House and every other member of the Cabinet except Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security, he would be president.

We've invited Duncan to play a game called "Now, don't be fresh ... I just take dictation!" Three questions for the secretary of education about the education of secretaries.

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