I was on the very popular NPR radio show "Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!" on Friday. Kinda.
Here’s how it went. At TAM5, I met Peter Sagal, the host of "Wait Wait". He gave a great talk, and although we only talked briefly we hit it off. He was very funny and personable, which I guess you have to be if you’re a successful NPR radio game show host.
So weeks pass, and I’m on my way home. My cell phone rings. It’s Peter! They have a segment on the show where they tell a contestant three stories about a topic, but only one is true. If the contestant guesses the right one, they win a prize — the announcer will record their phone message for them, which I think is really funny.
So Peter tells me they have NASA as their topic for tonight’s live taping, but they found out that their "true" story is actually an urban legend! Uh oh. Do I know any far-out NASA stories that sound like they may to be true, but in fact are?
I actually came up empty, but Peter asked if I had ever heard of the John Young corned-beef sandwich story? I said yeah, I had, but I didn’t know the details. So when I got home, I called my old buddy James Oberg, and he gave the me the whole scoop on the story. I called Peter back, and they recorded me talking about it.
I won’t go into the story here– because you can just listen to that segment of the radio show online your own self. I actually only have two lines they used for the show, so I’m not exactly an NPR star, but it was still fun, and I’m getting some email about it too.
Maybe I’ll send Peter an email sometime and try to be on the show. They have another segment where they get an "expert" in some field get asked questions about a totally different field, and it’s pretty funny hearing smart people stumble around. The problem, of course, is that I am such a polymath and genius in every subject in the Universe that they’ll have a hard time stumping me. But they can consider that their own challenge.