Monday, November 14, 2005

Carl Kasell's Spit

Since I'm not a music buff and have trouble understanding what most of today's rock singers actually say, my morning radio options are limited (unlike my afternoon drive when I look forward to "Don and Mike"). Most of the "funny" shows aren't funny, and during the 1 in 1,000 gimmicks they do that are listenable (making up words is so much fun), the host's hyena laughs make me look for the nearest wall to crash into. I used to enjoy most of what the Sport's Junkies did in the morning, but haven't been able to listen to them since they've moved to after the rush hour. I get annoyed with ESPN radio b/c Mike Golic doesn't add anything to Mike Greenberg's commentary on "Mike and Mike In the Morning". It's funny to hear Golic talk about something other than football. He's a great example of someone trying to sound like he knows something by simply repeating Greenberg's words and always agreeing.

Greenberg: Mariano Rivera's cut fastball scares every batter.
Golic: Rivera is a great pitcher.

Ya think so Golic? Gee, thanks for showing up today and adding so much to a show that Greenberg should do on his own.



This leads me to WTOP and it's traffic updates on the 8's vs. NPR. Sure I worked in TV news, but as you know, I was never, nor am I now, a news junkie. I go out of my way to avoid even the slightest talk of anything more than one top story of the day. It's one reason why I enjoy Internet news b/c I can read what I want when I want without any teases. I won't breakdown WTOP vs. NPR in one post, but I will say that both broadcasters have some "personalities" that are downright annoying and hard to listen to. If they're worthy, I will mention their tendancies in later entries. Which brings me today's inagural inductee.



Without further adeiu, the first "Today's annoying newscaster" is" (obligatory drumroll)...NPR's Carl Kasell. Yes, that is the proper spelling, but as seen in another blog entry, his name can/does appear as (I'm not holding spelling variations against him, but instead want to make sure blog search engines find their way over here (I'm a sellout, I know)):



Carl Casel Carl Casell Carl Cassel Carl Cassell
Carl Kasel Carl Kasell Carl Kassel Carl Kassell
Karl Casel Karl Casell Karl Cassel Karl Cassell
Karl Kasel Karl Kasell Karl Kassel Karl Kassell
Carl Castle Karl Castle Carl Kastle Karl Kastle



I know some of you are huge NPR fans and want me to stop saying anything negative about someone who has hosted a newscast at the start of each hour on "Morning Edition" since 1979. I know he has many journalism awards, yadda yadda yadda, but he has this speaking tick that makes me change the dial. I'm not questioning his newswriting, I'm just questioning his delivery. I still don't understand why people actually want the prize of his voice on their answering machine when you win "Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me."



(Lovely picture or too graphic?)

When he speaks, there's this sort of mini-swallowing sound, or "bubble-in-the-throat"noise, like his mouth is dry and he's adding saliva, made every 5 seconds. I can't get around it to hear the actual news. Try listening for it and you too will be turned off. Before I decided to change the station at the top of the hour on "Morning Edition", I'd wait for that noise and ignore anything else he says. His status as a great newsman allows him to stay put, but he's like a lot of newscasters out there who wouldn't get a job today because of how poorly they deliver the news. I know Carl writes really well, but it's time someone else reads his stories.

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27 comments:

Chris said...

Oh man..
I stumbled on your blog searching for Karl Cassell's name online...because I wanted to see the guy who had one of the most irritating voices I can imagine. Listening to WAMU in the morning, I immediately turn the dial when I hear his voice..its like fingernails on a chalkboard. Glad to know someone shares my ire!

B and T Crowd said...

Thanks for the support, now we just need some duct tape for his mouth.

Matt said...

Just like Chris, I did a search on Carl Kasell just so I could see an actual photo of the man who has me asking every morning (usually out loud because I am so irritated) "Who decision was it to put this guy on the radio?" He writing is very good, no doubt, but hearing him smack his lips every 5 seconds. especially after saying a word that starts with "S" drives me insane. I assumed that the picture I found of him would show a man in his 90's with "jowls" hanging to his shoulders with spit dripping from his bottom lip Dana Carvey Church Lady style. Dear Lord! Make it stop!

Anonymous said...

thank goodness for this blog entry. and add to the list Diane Ream (sp??). ugh they both send eerie shivers down my spine.

Scott Shuster said...

I was actually in the room at NPR that fateful day in 1977 when Carl Kassel was interviewed for the Morning Edition newscaster job. I was against hiring him: I said he sounded too old for our ‘college radio stations.’ HA!

That was, let’s see...goin’ on 30 years ago!? I left NPR a few months later -- actually left the country for nine years. When I came back at the end of the '80s and switched on All Things Considered again, I was amazed that Carl was still on the air doing the same non-schtick.

Indeed, I was amazed that nearly EVERYONE who was on the air when I left was also, still on the air. Many of those same people are STILL on NPR today (2006) -- including Carl.

NPR seems to value a consistent on-air sound above all other considerations. It's the Grand Ol' Opry of news. Tiny bits of interstitial music that I chose in the 1970s are still being played today: First on vinyl...then on tape cartridges...and now digitally, some of the exact same 'bridges' being played in the '70s are still on the air! Why??

As far as the on-air talent is concerned, keeping them in their seats doing the same shows in the same way until the most advanced-possible age seems to be a goal in itself at NPR. That's what leads to the old-person mouth-sounds this blog is talking about.

Hello, NPR...are you listening...?

dsigngrrl said...

The first time I heard Carl Kassel, I remember thinking how awful it would be to be the person following him on that mike. He sounded "spitty' and I assumed that the cover of the mike would be lightly misted, day after day, with Carl's saliva and the mike would smell like old man breath.

Then I imagined that once a week, NPR crew replaced the cover on the mike. Or maybe they gave him a private cover to put on the mike and take off when he was done. Maybe it rinses out. He probably keeps it in his pocket. Or maybe they have a desposable mike cover dispenser right outside the door.

My irritation at Carl Kassel's lispy, spitty voice turned into a game, and evenually Carl went from annoying to endearing.

Now I listen to him and think the news isn't nearly so bad. There is something very comforting to me about the consistency. I was sad when Scott Simon stepped down, and I really don't care for that new guy (I think his name is Steve Insky? he seems self absorbed during interviews).

There is something lovely, old-school, unpolished and weirdly off about Carl Kassel. I don't even play the spit game anymore. I just enjoy the quirkiness and the underlying message that NPR values people over image.

Brad said...

He sounds like his mouth is full of corn meal mush and marbles. I too must change the station rather than listen to the words bubbling out through the phlegm and old-man mucous that obviously afflict him. Being old, he is likely also a mouth-breather, which certainly exacerbates this problem. Please, Carl (Karl?), it's time to retire!

BP said...

Thank God. I thought I was the only one who felt this way about Carl Kassel, because I am generally sensitive to weird voice/talking sounds. But now I know I am not. I hate his voice with a passion, and hearing it sends shivers up my spine (and not in a good way). If he comes on reading the news I immediately change the channel to the classical station. How on earth does this guy still have a job in radio?

Anonymous said...

Wait. So, he's not speaking with a thousand penises in his mouth?

Anonymous said...

did he have surgery recently? he doesn't sound spitty anymore (that's why i did a search about him and am shocked there are other people who found his voice irksome, too).

Anonymous said...

I think it is unfair to judge Carl Kassel's voice so harshly. I first started listening to NPR several years ago, and I thought he had a very interesting voice then, as I do now. I've always thought his speaking voice was very unique when I listened to his vowels. His consonants are a challenge (because of a cleft palate? ) for him to pronounce, the sonority of his vowels are rich in tambour. In fact, his voice is uniquely beautiful, and good for NPR for keeping him. He is an asset to his field.

ledge said...

i heartily agree with the spit wad analysis. how on earth did he replace my beloved Bob Edwards on Morning Edition? i wish there were a way to spell how he says his own name - only the Hebrew pronunciation of Chanukah could possibly do it justice: Charl Chasell.

miss gliss said...

in middle school i knew that i would be late if carl kasell's voice hadn't revved up by the time the car crossed a certain crosswalk...

Anonymous said...

He got a new, ill-fitting denture.

I feel sorry for the guy....he is really struggling.

I'm a dentist, and I want to help the poor dude.

Anonymous said...

Some people have faces that are perfect for radio. Carl has a voice that's perfect for silent movies. Please retire, Carl.

Anonymous said...

I know it's a couple (or more) years later, but I just had to add my 2 cents' worth. The correct spelling is Carl Kasell. And Carl is not the culprit here. It's Daniel Schorr who has the bubbly, mouth-full-of marbles voice. So thanks for leaving Carl alone!

Anonymous said...

So who is the guy on WTOP who sounds like he's either being strangled with a dirty sock or about to cough up a persistent hairball? I'll have to pay closer attention next time, so I can start the petition to get him removed from the air. Any help with the name in the meantime would be greatly appreciated.

Anonymous said...

I agree with all of the annoyance at the voice but I think that the main culprit is NPR. They have far too high quality microphone setups where for everyone it sounds like you are in their throat. They could adjust the equalization and mic setups so that even Carl's voice would be ok. I think its part of their elitist media aesthetic, along with the stupid jazz they play between bits.

Anonymous said...

Funny to see so many thinking the same thing I was. I Googled "Carl Castle" for this very reason (now I know the spelling). Carl Crackle would be a good stage name.

His voice might be listenable on AM radio with its restricted high end. AM would act as a low-pass filter for some of that snap, crackle & pop.

Those who give him grief for being old should lay off, though. Time catches up with everyone. But if he always sounded this cotton-mouthed, it's a wonder he was chosen.

Anonymous said...

I cannot stand his voice. To me it sounds like he has loose dentures, and most mornings it makes me nauseous and I have to turn the volume down. It irritated me so much that I wanted to write to NPR and complain, but when I looked up his picture, I felt sorry for him. I'm glad I'm not the only one who's a tad bit repulsed in the morning.

Anonymous said...

To the August 16, 2008 comment-writer, I think the WTOP fellow you're referring to is Peter Overbey (sp?). He does sound like he's got a sock in his mouth.

The Butcher said...

It's great how this forum has served to preserve public annoyance with Carl's clickity spit delivery. I'm actually a Howard Stern fan and my Sirius antenna broke about a week ago, forcing me to listen to NPR (how's *that* for diversity!). Carl's dentures sliding around while he talks makes me glad I don't eat breakfast until I arrive at work. Fortunately I'll be back to Howard and his pitch perfect delivery by next week!

Anonymous said...

He is by far the worst voice to ever grace the air waves. I envision an old man humped over at a Denny's with his gizzard neck consumed in gravy while taking baby sips of O.J.
I swear I can hear him ordering and just imagine...Yesss Id like ssssausuage pattiesss and oranjuicccssee and tooaaat.. Needless to say- hearing him in the AM is the ultimate appetite suppressant.

Anonymous said...

Would it kill him to pronounce a "K" sound like a "K" sound instead of "khhcsh"? I mean, it's in there TWICE in his name and he still can't get it right. I have to fight to urge to turn the dial every time he comes on.

tina_heart said...

i always pretend he just has a toothache. a chronic one.

Anonymous said...

i like the sound of his voice. it's very newscastyey (i like to make up words too). yeah, hes got a silva sound sometimes, but so does Lou Holtz...now HE sounds awful, lol

EditMaster said...

Despite what anyone says, i like listening to Carl. I think many of you might be thinking about Daniel Schorr who certainly sounds like he has a mouth full of something, but its Michele Norris that drives me nuts. It sounds like she is always in need of a drink of water and I don't want to listen to news/info being delivered by someone who sounds like they're trying to put a 2 year old to sleep...yawn. She's the opposite of the FM DJ that is shouting into the mic.