Wait, Wait… Tell Me More!

This article was published awhile this fall in the Loyola Phoenix, my school’s award-winning student newspaper that I write for in the Arts & Entertainment section, but I never shared it for some reason. For all the NPR nerds out there, this one is for you:

All of the contestants on NPR’s Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me! take the stage.

Host Peter Sagal’s opening line to a live taping of NPR’s Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me! made the whole auditorium burst into laughter: “We should also let you know: if you are listening at home that if we sound a little cramped today, well, in the spirit of his holiness Pope Francis, we have given up our usual luxurious theater and we’re doing this show all stuffed inside a Fiat.”

“Stuffed inside a Fiat” wasn’t all that far from the truth. The Chase Bank Auditorium (10 S. Dearborn St.) is a luxurious theater, but it is also very small. When I walked in, I expected a huge auditorium, but the theater sat no more than 150 people. Even at the capacity, I have never heard so much laughter. I started laughing at Sagal’s first line, and I never stopped laughing the entire show.

Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me! is NPR’s weekly news quiz program that airs every Saturday. Panelists are brought on the show so listeners can test their knowledge with some of the best and brightest in the news and entertainment world. Listeners will find out what is real in the weekly news and what is made up. Throughout the show, listeners call in to play. They can also play along online during the show.

I have been waiting to go to a taping of Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me! for many years now, so the night was already a dream come true. I grew up listening to NPR at the breakfast table, and I regularly read Sagal’s columns in Runner’s World magazine.

The stage was set up just as I pictured it to be. It had a simple backdrop, with the show’s logo of a rolled-up newspaper as the top of an exclamation mark on each of the podiums. Bill Kurtis – official judge, scorekeeper and former CBS news anchor – stood on the left with Sagal, and the three panelists – author and radio anomaly Tom Boddett, daily podcast host Luke Burbank, and comedian Iliza Shlesinger – sat on the right.

As always, Peter Sagal was an exceptional, and an exceptionally funny, host. He knew when to linger and make a joke about the news topic for a particular quiz question, such as Scott Walker dropping out of the presidential race turning into a joke about Walker’s Twitter obsession with hot ham and rolls, but he also knew when to keep the show rolling.

The panelists each brought a different vibe to the show, but all were quite the news experts. I especially enjoyed Iliza Shlesigner on the show. Shlesigner is 32, the youngest of the panelists and winner of the sixth season of NBC’s Last Comic Standing. Shlesigner definitely brings the perspective of a slightly younger generation to the show: Luke Burbank is 39, Tom Boddett is 60, Peter Sagal is 50, Bill Kurtis is 75, and most of the other usual panelists are in their mid to upper 50’s. Bill Kurtis, who also narrated the movie Anchorman 2, has the perfect voice to be the scorekeeper and the judge. He throws his own jokes in the mix, such as his own introduction: “I’m the man whose tailpipe emissions are always exactly as promised.” Because it was his birthday, the audience sang happy birthday to him when the taping ended.

Singer/Songwriter Jewel was on the show as a special guest. She has a connection to panelist Tom Boddett, as he helped fund her college education so she could attend college outside of her small town in Alaska and get her start. I enjoyed seeing Jewel out of her usual element, answering questions about current events and making jokes.

The audience packed Chase Bank Auditorium on a Thursday night.

After the show, there was a Q&A session, a meet-and-greet and some free cookies from Baker Miller to end the night.I learned a lot at the show, such as to how Volkswagen cars are not really as environmentally friendly as the company says they are. When I left the auditorium, I felt like I had just walked out of the most interesting lecture hall of my life, weighed down by greater knowledge but at the same time lighter than ever from all of the laughter.

Even if you did not grow up an NPR nerd like I did, I would recommend this show to any student. The tickets are $30, and sell out fast. Make sure to check the Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me! section on the NPR or the WBEZ Chicago website for future taping dates in Chicago to see when the tickets for those shows go on sale. The show travels around the country and tapes in other states as well. You will experience a different evening than you are used to, learn a lot, and laugh the night away.

After the show, my friends and I snagged a picture with the man, Peter Sagal himself!


Published by Ally Spiroff

I am Ally Spiroff, and what seems like seven short years ago I created a Twitter account, @runningforlife2. I tweeted how I felt and what I was doing. I tweeted about my greatest passion in life, running. I also tweeted about my other passions, food, music, movies, books, pop culture, writing, traveling, and life. Before I knew it, people (mostly those people in the running community but others too) began to latch onto my life. Then, I realized, “hey, this Twitter thing is pretty cool.” I get to write about what I love. I get to tell my story. The world around me, all of my people, get to ride along with me as I take on the world, one day at a time. People can watch me grow. I can watch other people grow. The Twitter handle has evolved into @allyspiroff over time. With it, the content has also evolved, but the same crazy woman is behind the content. :) So what exactly is my story? Who exactly is Ally Spiroff? I graduated with a Master's in Communication from Loyola University Chicago in May 2017. I was a Division I collegiate athlete there for five years, all four of my undergraduate and one of my graduate years. I graduated with honors in May 2015 with a Bachelor’s in English. In the winter/spring 2015-2016 due to a redshirt season of indoor and outdoor track, I returned to run a fifth year. Since I have always thought that it is more fun to jump over water and other obstacles than just run normal laps around the track and I like a good challenge, I am a steeplechaser by nature. I got to chase fast steeple times for one more season at Loyola, as well as run the 3k, 5k, and even the mile/1500 with my teammates that double as my best friends, sisters, inspirations, and the greatest people you will ever meet. Now, you might ask, how did I still run at Loyola if I graduated in the spring of 2015? I started the cutting-edge graduate program Digital Media & Storytelling in the fall of 2016 at Loyola. It was a two-year program, so I was blessed with another year at the wonderful Jesuit institution to finish up my Master's degree. After obtaining both my undergraduate and graduate degrees, I have become an experienced writer and researcher. Through graduate work, I have become well versed in Adobe Creative Commons software programs, specifically Photoshop and shooting and editing video in Premiere Pro, and in Google Analytics, along with other search engine optimization tools. Through an abundance of internship experience, I became extremely proficient in news editing software programs. I have lots of experience in the newsroom and writing for news producers as well as out in the field on assignment and in working with a variety of people. My experience as an undergraduate and a graduate student while simultaneously being a Division I collegiate athlete on Loyola’s cross country and track teams as well as in a variety of jobs/internships and volunteer work has helped develop my confidence, drive, responsibility, time management, sense of teamwork, people skills, communication, troubleshooting skills, attention to detail, critical thinking skills, leadership, planning skills, and even a sense of humor. I also have extensive experience with all outlets of social media. As I mentioned before, I am an avid tweeter and Instagram user, with 1,450+ followers on Twitter. I have lots of experience with creating and building content for websites. I also run the website I created for my graduate school capstone project, titled "Wise Old Women." I am on Pinterest, Foursquare/Swarm, and Facebook as well. I wrote in the arts and entertainment section of my university’s award-winning newspaper, The Loyola Phoenix. You can find my running profile on the Loyola Ramblers website. You can find all about my collegiate running career on TFRRS. Of course, you can also catch me on LinkedIn. I am lucky because I get to tell people’s stories for a living online, through digital media and other means. Currently, I live in New York City and I'm the Digital Editorial Assistant at Runner's World magazine, and I'm a freelance writer for VICE's health vertical, Tonic. I really love life. I have big dreams. I do not know where my dreams will take me, but I am confident that they will take me far. I am an open book. I like sharing myself with anybody who wants to listen. I am enjoying the opportunity to further my education every day and perfect my craft. I love learning something new every single day about myself, others, and the world around me. Besides being a multimedia journalist and a city dweller, I am a literature (Hemingway and Plath are my favorites) and grammar nerd, a hippie, a music fanatic, a foodie, a concert-goer, a traveler, a huge sports fan, a fashionista, an art lover, and an urban explorer who likes natural adventures (like hiking up mountains in Alaska) as well. Wherever I go and whatever I do, I conquer it. I was born and raised in Milwaukee, though, and no matter where I go, I never forget my roots. Milwaukee will always be my city and where my heart truly lies. I have quite the eye for unique knick-knacks. My spirit animals are the grasshopper and the gazelle. When I take the Essential Enneagram Test, I am #3. I am a hard worker with relentless energy. I am everyone’s sister. I am nutty but in a way that I like it. I think that God is so good and we are blessed to get to walk this earth every day. I believe that every person has the right to be exactly who they are. I am dreaming big, with my head in the clouds, but there is still some common sense in there somewhere. ;) Turning over a new leaf in my life, at the start of grad school, I wanted to create a comprehensive website where I could connect you to all of my social media outlets. I will continue to share my running experiences and life journey through this awesome outlet we now have called the World Wide Web, and I hope that everyone continues to enjoy all things Ally Spiroff. Peace, love, and running (fast), Ally Spiroff

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