When we were standing in line for the Says You taping in Los Angeles, I was talking with a woman and during the course of our conversation, we also talked about the radio show, Wait Wait...don't tell me! which we both also liked. I don't listen to Wait Wait on the radio, but get it as a podcast and I'm not as religious about listening to it as I am to Says You, but when I do listen I always enjoy it.
I mentioned that we were going to a taping of Wait Wait in Berkeley and she mentioned that she'd only learned that the show was going to be in Berkeley last week and, of course, the tickets were long gone. It was Char who had alerted us to the broadcast and we ordered tickets months ago, back in September. (Host Peter Sagal said that the tickets for the 2,000+ seat Zellerbach Auditorium had been sold out before the notice of the broadcast ever got printed in their book of coming events!)
This woman at "Says You" and I talked about Wait Wait and had questions about, for example, how they work their call-ins. I promised her that after we'd been to the show, I would write an explanation of how it all works...so this is that report!
We met Mike & Char in Berkeley for dinner at an Italian restaurant called "Tomatina," very near the apartment where Walt was living before we got married, and then walked up to Zellerbach, arriving before the doors to the auditorium actually opened. They were seated in the orchestra section, over on the side. We were dead center in the very last row of the balcony. Walt had brought binoculars.
They are doing two tapings, the one we went to tonight and another tomorrow. Unlike Says You they only tape one show per day. There were six panelists listed in the program and I was pleased that the three that were on for our performance were the three I like the best: Mo Rocca, from both CBS Sunday Morning and The Tonight Show; Comedienne Paula Poundstone; and "author and radio anomaly" Tom Bodett. The guest was opera mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade (who even reprised her wonderful Star Trek aria from a recent Emmy show.
(You can't take pictures during the taping, of course, but I did sneak this picture after the formal part was over when host Sagal and announcer Carl Kassel were out in the audience answering questions. At the desk are, L to R, Rocca, Poundstone, and Bodett. The chair in the middle was for von Stade)
There are several blatant differences between the two radio programs. For one thing, Wait Wait has a much younger audience. Possibly it just seemed that way because this was being held on a college campus, but I suspect that in general Wait Wait's audiences are younger.
Second, Wait Wait is more topical. Whereas you can listen to a Says You show 5-10 years after it was broadcast and it's just as fresh and timely as when it was recorded, Wait Wait's material is based on the week's news, so within a week or two it's already dated.
Finally, Wait Wait is more of a "show," with lighting effects, a set of sorts, and the feel of a "show." Says You always has seemed to me that surely it must have come out of a party somewhere when a bunch of intelligent, witty folks were playing parlor games and someone got the bright idea to turn it into a radio show. (This notion was further strengthened by learning that Arnie Reisman had been the best man for Tony Kahn and his wife and seems to have been a friend of host Richard Sher's forever.)
And, truth to tell, though I loved being at the taping of Wait wait, it wasn't as much fun, for us, as being at the tapings of Says You, which feels more like spending the day with old friends. That said, however, I'd happily go back again next year if we are able to get tickets!
I never did get answered the question about telephone contestants. Near as I can tell, they must write to the show ahead of time and then are called by the show at the time of taping. In the photo above, you can see a table in back, where there sit four people--and they seem to have the sound board, and probably the telephone controls. When I listened to the show on the podcast, I wondered if people actually called in to the show live, but there was no indication that they did. They were just "there."
|Ahhh...read the FAQ. |
4) But if you're not broadcasting live, then when should people call in to be on the show?
Any time at all. Whenever you call, even if you're listening to the show at that moment, you'll be greeted by a mellifluous voice on an answering machine (okay, it's Peter Sagal, but do you know how much those mellifluous voice guys charge?). You'll be asked to leave your name and number, and tell us something about yourself... perhaps just why you want to play our game. Our producers listen to all the messages, and call some people back to arrange for them to be at their phones during our Thursday evening taping. You can also nominate yourself via e-mail, at email@example.com.
The whole thing was very funny and I'll be looking forward to seeing how much of it gets to air. Char was convulsed about featherless chickens wearing sweaters and I'm wondering how sign language interpreters manage to sign "crap a pineapple," which apparently was the big joke of last year's taping. But there were far more double entendres and scatalogical humor here than with Says You and the whole thing was very silly.
Isn't it amazing that in this age of television we can get so totally wrapped up in not one, but two radio shows?
Oh! And the really big news is that after running 3 virus checks (which took most of the morning) and installing Front Page about four different times, I finally discovered--all on my own--what the problem was, and got it fixed. I have Front Page back again!!!