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'Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!' Celebrates Its 1,000th Episode

Peter Sagal and Bill Kurtis at the Chicago Theatre.
Peter Sagal and Bill Kurtis at the Chicago Theatre.

Tickets for the 1,000th episode of 'Wait Wait Don't Tell Me' are available for purchase atartsaltlake.org

NPR's adored weekly quiz show Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me is gearing up for its 1000th episode on October 24th — "that's nearly 7,000 shows in dog years," executive producer Doug Berman points out. The show will make a sentimental return to Salt Lake City, home of their very first live show in 2000, to celebrate the achievement. The Peabody Award-winning program has been having way too much fun with the news since its inception in 1998, and has come a long way since.

Westin Hotels and Resorts is the exclusive sponsor of the 1,000th show at Eccles Theatre.

When the idea for Wait Waitfirst originated, many thought that the program's trademark goofiness would clash with NPR's reputation as a serious news organization. While they may have had a point (one of the show's early slogans was "NPR Without the Dignity"), critics couldn't anticipate that offering listeners a lighter take on the news while staying informed is precisely what would make the program an indispensable hit.

Bill Curtis and Peter Sagal celebrate 20 years of "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!"
Tyler Core / NPR
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Bill Curtis and Peter Sagal celebrate 20 years of "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!"

The show now has a listenership of over 4 million people weekly and averages over a million downloads per episode. They have more than 200 road shows under their belt, plus the Wait Wait interactive Smart Speaker quiz makes it easy for fans to join in on the fun from anywhere.

Host Peter Sagal's quips can be heard on 720 NPR Member stations, which have all been issued countless language advisories over the years.

"It's hard to believe we'll have broadcast 1,000 shows. It's hard to imagine I've managed to complete a thousand anything, except maybe naps," said Sagal.

Wait Wait will finally be old enough to drink this year — just in time to celebrate the upcoming milestone. In its near 21 years on air, the show has brought on guests from all walks of life, including:

  • Five astronauts
  • Musicians ranging from Yo Yo Ma to Chance The Rapper
  • Nobel prize winners
  • Actors including: Daniel Radcliff, Mindy Kaling, Alec Baldwin, Scarlett Johansson, Olivia Wilde, Jordan Peele and Tom Hanks (who has also guest-hosted the show)
  • Four presidential candidates: Al Gore, Bernie Sanders, John Kasich, and most recently, Pete Buttigieg
  • Two actual U.S. presidents: Bill Clinton post-presidency and Barack Obama pre-presidency
  • And many, many more.

    "When we began this show, we weren't sure we'd get to complete ten of them, let alone a thousand," said Sagal. "That means we either underestimated our own talent or overestimated the audience's standards. Probably, it was a little of both."

    Congratulations to the entire team at Wait Wait for a very silly 1,000 hours on public radio. Here's to 1,000 more.

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.