Paisley Meegan shares her “Wait Wait” experience in the podcast above.
In a rare moment, “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” host Peter Sagal called up a member of the audience to answer one of the show’s famous limericks. If answered correctly, the entire audience would get a prize. That audience member just happened to be cherub Paisley Meegan.
“It was scary,” Meegan said. “It was just a weird experience because I’ve listened to the show my whole life.”
Meegan was one of 80 cherubs who attended the live recording of “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” on July 14 in the Chase Auditorium in downtown Chicago.
“Just to go see the show was weird because you’re finally getting the visual representation of what you’re hearing, so that was deja vu and just weird,” Meegan said. “And then to go on stage, I didn’t even feel like I was there. It was a crazy experience.”
Other cherubs, including Max Cohen, are also avid listeners of NPR’s popular podcast. Cohen, who listens to the show with his family, was in disbelief at the small size of the venue and the faces of the hosts.
“I always had this picture in my mind as a kid, like this 5,000-seat, huge arena — not quite a basketball arena but a very big space,” Cohen said. “And you walk in, and it’s small. That’s something that hit me. And that’s the beauty of a podcast. It’s all in your imagination what people look like.”
Cohen said the show is one of his favorites, and he loves all of the on-air games. Cohen even met Sagal after the show.
“It was amazing because I knew all the segments and seeing it live was just hilarious,” Cohen said.
While some cherubs are loyal fans of “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!,” others were listening to the show for the first time.
First-time listener Fritz Schemel said he thought the podcast was very funny and that he especially enjoyed one of the phone-in guests, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro. Schemel added he enjoyed the inclusion of the phone callers with the various games on the show.
“I thought it was a good way to interact with the fans of the show,” Schemel said. “Probably the funniest moments came from those. I think it definitely kept it interesting and kept people engaged.”
Before the show began, the audience was told that one person would be selected to come up on stage and play a game, keeping the audience intrigued throughout the recording, Schemel said.
At the end of the show, Sagal called Meegan up to center stage. After talking to Sagal about the Medill cherub program, Meegan answered her limerick correctly, winning a gelato coupon for every audience member and some gelato for herself.
“When I listen to the show at home, normally I’m pretty good at solving the limericks,” Meegan said. “But I was just thinking to myself, like this one time that I’m on stage in front of everyone is going to be the one time that I can’t solve the limerick. So I was concentrating so hard, and, I don’t know, it just came to me.”