There are a couple shows I enjoy listening to sporadically on the weekends when I’m ferrying my ten-year-old daughter around to all her soccer games, tae kwon do classes and play dates.
Michael Feldman is, in my view, the radio equivalent of David Letterman or Conan O’Brien. His exuberant NPR program WHAT DO YOU KNOW? is a talkshow/game show but it’s really just a forum for him to make jokes about the news and, when the show travels, whatever city or state he happens to be visiting that week. It’s a very funny, often hilarious show. It’s apparently been on the air for over a decade, but seems to generate absolutely no buzz.
I also like to catch Peter Sagal’s WAIT WAIT DON’T TELL ME, another NPR game show, which is just an excuse to make jokes about current events. The show is uneven, depending a great deal on how sharp the panelists are as they make jokes during a variety of simple news quizzes, during which phone-in listeners vie for the chance to have NPR announcer Carl Kasell record a message on their telephone answering machines. Most weeks you can find Paula Poundstone among the group (thus answering the trivia question "whatever happened to Paula Poundstone?"), and she seems to bring out the best in the panel, which usually includes Roy Blount Jr, PJ O’Rourke, Adam Felber, and Sue Ellicott. Like WHAT DO YOU KNOW, this show also seems to exist below the pop culture radar.
Then again, they’re both on the radio…and who listens to radio any more?