POTOMAC, MD (CelebrityAccess) — Veteran newscaster and radio personality Carl Kasell, whose rich baritone has been a comforting presence on National Public Radio for more than 30 years, died on April 17th. He was 84.
According to NPR, Kasell died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease in Potomac, Md.
A native of Goldsboro, North Carolina, Kasell found an early affinity for radio, and in his memoir “Wait Wait … I’m Not Done Yet” he described DJing at home as a youth with his grandmother’s phonograph.
“My grandmother had a Victrola with the big 78 r.p.m. records, and I would play disc jockey, talking in between songs,” he wrote. “I’d tell jokes, give the time and temperature, make up commercials, just like the guy on the radio did. I fell in love with radio.”
Kasell was able to translate his passion into a job and at the age of sixteen, he landed his first gig as a late night DJ at a local radio station.
He attended the University of North Carolina, where he, along with fellow student Charles Kuralt, helped to launch the University’s new radio station WUNC.
Following his graduation, his radio career was interrupted by a stint in the military, but when he returned, he transitioned away from music and found a job at an all-news radio station, WAVA-FM.
In 1975, Kasell joined NPR as part of the staff of the long-running show “All Things Considered” but four years later, he was named as the newsreader for the broadcaster’s newly launched morning news show “Morning Addition.” Kasell remained newsreader for the show for 30 years, becoming one of the most recognized voices on American radio.
In 2009, Kasell announced his plans to retire from newscasting but remained as the official judge and scorekeeper for NPR’s comedic quiz show “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” Kasell was featured in several segments on the show, including “Who’s Carl This Time?” and the “Listener Limerick Challenge.”
Notably, listeners who won a game on the show could choose to have Kasell record greeting for their home answering machine or voice mail system, and by the time Kasell stepped down, he’d recorded more than 2,000 such salutations.
Kasell retired from the quiz show in 2014.
Over the course of his long career, Kasell was presented with numerous accolades, including a George Foster Peabody Award which he shared with the Morning Edition team, and an induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2010.
According to the New York Times, Kasell married Clara de Zorzi in 1958 with whom he had a son, Joseph. de Zorzi died in 1997, and Kasell remarried to Mary Ann Foster, a Washington psychotherapist, who had a son, Brian Foster, by a previous marriage. Kasell is survived by Ms. Foster, his son, his stepson, his sister, Mary Groce, and four grandchildren.