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
2:25 pm
Mon January 7, 2013

Sandwich Monday: Steak And Kidney Pie

You say Steak & Kidney Pie, I say Gravy Volcano.
NPR

Originally published on Mon January 21, 2013 2:16 pm

[Note: Peter sends this disgusting dispatch from a family vacation in London.]

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
1:13 pm
Sat December 15, 2012

NIH Director Francis Collins Plays Not My Job

NIH

Originally published on Sat December 15, 2012 10:25 am

Dr. Francis Collins is the director of the National Institutes of Health, which among other things means he's going to outlive us all. We've invited him to play a game called "OWWW!" Three questions about athletes and the surprising ways they find to injure themselves, inspired by Bleacher Report's list of The 50 Weirdest Injuries in Sports History.

Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
2:34 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

Hugh Bonneville Of 'Downton Abbey' Plays Not My Job

Frederick M. Brown Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 10, 2012 11:42 am

America is obsessed with Downton Abbey, the British series about a family so wealthy that they can't feed, clothe or care for themselves. Hugh Bonneville plays the patriarch of the family, and we've invited His Lordship to play a game we're calling, "Welcome to America, Lord Grantham."

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
3:25 pm
Mon November 26, 2012

Not My Job: We Quiz NASA Engineers On Mars Candy

Missions engineers Bobak Ferdowsi (left) and Adam Steltzner — also known as "Mokawk guy" and "Elvis guy," respectively — helped land the Mars Curiosity rover on Sunday night.
Left: Brian van der Brug-Pool/Getty Images Right: Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images

Originally published on Sat November 24, 2012 10:37 am

This segment was originally broadcast on Aug. 8, 2012.

On a Sunday night in August, while the rest of us were ooohing and aaahing over gymnastics, a bunch of propeller heads at NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory were flawlessly steering a billion-dollar robotic space laboratory the size of a minivan to a landing on Mars.

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
12:30 pm
Wed November 21, 2012

Brewery Owner Randy Sprecher Plays Not My Job

Courtesy Randy Sprecher

Originally published on Sat November 17, 2012 11:03 am

Randy Sprecher came to Milwaukee years ago to make beer for one of the big breweries. But he didn't like the beer he was making so he founded his own brewery ... and now, his friends keep showing up at his door all the time with lame excuses.

We've invited Sprecher to answer three questions about Carrie Nation, the famously violent prohibitionist.

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
5:43 pm
Sat November 10, 2012

Martha Stewart Plays Not My Job

Stephen Lovekin Getty Images

Originally published on Sat November 10, 2012 12:43 am

For 30 years, Martha Stewart has been teaching people how to be classy, useful, attractive and elegant, with her books, TV shows, magazines and websites. Though we'd like her to declare Wait Wait one of her trademark "good things," we can't promise that's going to happen.

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
4:52 pm
Mon November 5, 2012

Smithsonian's Wayne Clough Plays Not My Job

Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Sat November 3, 2012 10:31 am

The Smithsonian Institution is often called The Nation's Attic, because of all the treasures crammed into it ... which makes Wayne Clough, secretary of the Smithsonian, the crazy guy up in the attic collecting everything.

Since Clough is in charge of the nation's stuff that's worth keeping we've decided to quiz him on the stuff that isn't — turns out people are hoarding stuff so weird, even A&E wouldn't think to broadcast it.

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
6:00 pm
Mon October 22, 2012

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi Plays Not My Job

Nancy Pelosi takes the stage during Day Two of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., in September.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Fri October 19, 2012 7:04 pm

In January 2007, Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California was sworn in as the speaker of the House of Representatives — and became the first woman to hold that position. She is currently the House minority leader.

We've invited Pelosi to play a game about men breaking gender barriers — three questions about men who've gone where no man has gone before.

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Monkey See
1:43 pm
Wed June 6, 2012

Ray Bradbury: Finding Our Reflections Where We Didn't Expect Them

This 1966 file photo shows science fiction writer Ray Bradbury looking at a picture that was part of a school project to illustrate characters in one of his dramas.
AP

Originally published on Thu June 7, 2012 7:19 am

Heinlein, Asimov and Bradbury; they were the tripod (invasive, moving, with lasers) on which my science fiction education was built in the 1970s. This was somewhat self-selected, because once you — or I — grew out of Danny Dunn and Journey to the Mushroom Planet and Tom Swift, Jr., they were the inevitable destinations, the planets with the heaviest gravity wells in the sci-fi solar system.

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Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!
1:18 pm
Tue May 1, 2012

Sandwich Monday: Portland's Big Ass Sandwich

That's a really big sandwich.
Peter Sagal

Originally published on Sat May 5, 2012 12:56 am

I happened to visit Portland, OR and somebody on Twitter told me I needed to go get a sandwich at Big Ass Sandwiches, a new foodcart in the Foodcart Archipelago of downtown Portland. Since (A) I do everything I'm told to do by Twitter, and (B) I was hungry, off I went.

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