NPR 'rock star' Carl Kasell to help kick off local fundraising drive

Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Carl Kasell

Carl Kasell is lending his familiar voice from National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" newscast to help local public radio station KRCU celebrate its 20th anniversary.

"He is one of those familiar voices that public radio listeners truly connect with," said Dan Woods, KRCU general manager. "Within public radio, he really is a rock star."

Kasell, who will be inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame later this year, will join KRCU for a 20th anniversary gala dinner Monday in the atrium of Dempster Hall on the Southeast Missouri State University campus. He will then speak at 8 p.m. in Glenn Auditorium as part of the University's Speaker Series, which is free and open to the public.

A champagne and dessert reception will follow for those with gala tickets.

The next morning, the 60-year broadcast veteran will be in the KRCU studio as the station kicks off its fall fundraising campaign. The station hopes to raise $20,000 with these events.

"We believe it will generate a lot of excitement and encourage listeners to support KRCU with their contributions," Woods said. "In 20 years, this is the first time that KRCU has brought an NPR celebrity to the region."

Kasell began his broadcasting career in high school.

"I'll never forget my first day on the job," he said. "They paid me, and I would have paid them because that's all I wanted to do."

He joined NPR in 1975 and a few years later, in November 1979, the "Morning Edition" program began.

During its first week on the air came one of Kasell's biggest breaking news stories: the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Iran by Islamist militants.

"It was a brand-new program then, and I was responsible for a five minute newscast at the top of the hour," Kasell said.

"At first, some stations didn't want us to interrupt their classical music in the morning, but eventually NPR listeners found out this was a good program and it grew into the most listened to morning news program on radio or television."

Over 30 years on "Morning Edition," Kasell's voice carried the news of the day -- from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks -- to NPR listeners.

"He brought us good news and bad news, but always with a consistent and warm voice people trusted," Woods said.

Since retiring from newscasting at the end of 2009, Kasell's become NPR's roving ambassador, which he says keeps him busier at times than his previous role.

"It gives me a chance to finally meet the audience and get their impressions of what we do," Kasell said.

"I like to hear what people are curious about and enlighten them somewhat to how we do it and why we do it."

After getting up at 1 a.m. for 30 years to prepare for his first 5 a.m. news broadcast, Kasell said he now enjoys sleeping in until 6.

He also hosts a weekly news quiz show, "Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me," which can be heard on KRCU at 2 p.m. Saturdays and 6 p.m. Sundays.

Tickets for the gala dinner and reception are available at the KRCU studios or by calling 651-5070.

mmiller@semissourian.com

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