UNC alum and National Public Radio news anchor Carl Kasell died Tuesday, April 17, from complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 84 years old.
Kasell anchored NPR news for over three decades building an audience of millions. He joined the fledgling network in 1975. In 1979, as the network continued to grow, he became the announcer for NPR’s “Morning Edition,” a Peabody Award-winning program. Later in his career, he joined the news quiz show “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” as the judge and official scorekeeper.
Susan King, the dean of the School of Media and Journalism, said Kasell had a voice of warmth and honesty.
“His voice is iconic,” King said. “You knew it wasn’t just John or Joe – it was Carl. Carl Kasell.”
King acknowledged not only Kasell’s role as one of the early pioneers of radio but also his ability to adapt to the changing landscape of news broadcasting.
“It’s really important for young people to realize that he could make it in a digital era,” King said. “If you know your craft, it doesn’t matter how the pipes may change or the platform may change, you too can make it.”
Adam Hochberg, a lecturer in the UNC School of Media of Journalism and correspondent for NPR, often worked with Kasell.
“I think in a lot of ways he set the tone for the sound of NPR, always professional but not too stodgy,” Hochberg said.
Being from Goldsboro, Kasell always had his roots in the Tar Heel state. He spent four years at UNC as a member of the class of 1956. He never graduated because he had been drafted into the army. As a student at the university, he co-founded the public radio station WUNC. After becoming a newscaster for NPR, he often returned to UNC visiting classrooms and giving talks. In 2004, he was inducted into the North Carolina Journalism Hall of Fame, housed in the School of Media and Journalism.