• The Tale of Two Wait Wait Shows in Portland

    Back in February, I learned that Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! was coming back to Portland, Oregon to do a taping of the show in June. The last time Wait Wait was in Portland was in September 2011 and there had been a large demand of tickets; so, Wait Wait decided to have two tapings in Portland to feed the strong hunger for a local, live taping. When I found out that tickets we going to be on sale, I reached out to the Wait Wait gang to see if I snag a pair of tickets for the show. I later learned that there was going to be a second show in Portland that next night. I was lucky enough to get tickets for both shows and anxiously awaited for the days and weeks to pass, until it the night of the show. As with the previous tapings in Portland, both shows were taped at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in downtown Portland.

    Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
    Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

    The first show was taped on Thursday, June 23rd and featured Terry Porter as the Not My Job guest, along with Roxanne Roberts, Maz Jobrani and Bobcat Goldthwait on the panel. On the way to the show, I had to stop by and pick up a notepad and a pen, as I forgot my usual set at home, so that I could take notes. For the most part, it was your typical on-the-road taping of Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!; but, due to the timing of when the show was being taped, voting for/against the Brexit was still in progress.

    Coincidentally, the last Wait Wait taping that I had gone to was the taping in Seattle back in September 2014, which was taped during the Scottish independence voting. For both of those shows, they had to tape two versions of some of the questions and/or segments to cover either voting result. Once taping and the usual Q&A with the audience were completed, Peter Sagal introduced the members of the Wait Wait crew, working behind the scenes; or, in front of the scene in the case of Lorna White due to microphone technical issues during taping.

    OPBs April Baer on stage before the show kicked off
    OPB’s April Baer on stage before the show kicked off
    2016-06-23 19.41.19
    On the panel: Maz Jobrani, Roxanne Roberts and Bobcat Goldthwait
    Former Blazers player and current University of Portland mens basketball coach
    Not My Job guest Terry Porter, former Blazers player and current University of Portland men’s basketball coach

    After he finished introducing all of the crew, he finished up with a little bit about people saying that they are the biggest fan of Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!; at that point, Peter, knowing where I was sitting, directed everyone’s attention to where I was sitting and introduced me as the biggest Wait Wait fan and mentioned the Wait Wait Stats Page. I stood up, did the “I’m not worthy” bow a few times and sat back down. The mix of adrenaline and anxiety made me feel a wee bit woozy for the next hour or so.

    Notebook with initial notes jotted down before doors opened for Thursdays show
    Notebook with initial notes jotted down before doors opened for Thursday’s show

    Normally, Wait Wait will do one taping per city when they are on-the-road, with a couple of notable exceptions; including, a series of consecutive tapings from the Nourse Theatre in San Francisco back during the summer of 2014, while Chase Auditorium was being renovated back in Chicago. In the past, the first of the series of shows would be a normal taping of the show that would be aired that weekend; while, the second show would become a specially-themed show with special guests. In this case, the second Wait Wait show in Portland would be something new. There would be a different set of panelists (Jessi Klein, Alonzo Bodden and Luke Burbank), a new Not My Job guest (Bill Oakley) and a new set of listener contestants trying to win Carl Kasell recording a message for their voicemail.

    Due to the segments that were recorded during the second show not hitting the air for some time, I did not want to spoil some of details of that taping until a few segments were released. With the Not My Job segment and the Bluff the Listener segment released as part of the Best Of show that aired on 2016-08-27, I can divulge some of the details of the show. Many of the questions were re-used for the Who’s Bill This Time? and Lightning Fill-in-the-Blank segments; along with, and the limericks from the Listener Limerick Challenge segment. The listener contestants from the Thursday and the Friday tapings had difficulties with the second limerick, taking a good amount of time until Peter and Bill gave them the correct answer.

    On the panel: Luke Burbank, Jessi Klein and Alonzo Bodden
    On the panel: Luke Burbank, Jessi Klein and Alonzo Bodden
    Not My Job guest Bill Oakley
    Not My Job guest Bill Oakley, writer for The Simpsons

    Being up at the front row for that taping, I was so, so close to blurt out a few of the answers during the Lightning Fill-in-the-Blank round to help out the panelists; alas, I thought better of it and kept quiet. Also, knowing that not all of the taping would be used in their original form, Bill Kurtis had a lot of fun with the sponsor messages during Friday’s taping, including a few that were definitely beyond what NPR could broadcast.

    Full show notes from the Friday show taping
    Full show notes from the Friday show taping

    The second taping ended after Peter, Bill and the panelists had to do a couple of pick-ups. I’m guessing they either ran out of time or thought that those attending the second show didn’t need to know the people working behind the scenes. I was able to head backstage after the taping and said hello to Luke Burbank (who probably sees me enough already at the numerous Live Wire Radio tapings that I’ve been to).

    I wanted to thank the guys and gals at Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! for tickets to the Thursday show and urge them to come back to Portland more often!

  • Déjà Vu #FactCheck: First Three-Way Tie Going Into Lightning Round

    On the Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! show that aired on 2016-06-11, Bill Kurtis made a statement at the beginning of the Lightning Fill-in-the-Blank round stating that, for the first time in his tenure, that all three panelists were tied going into the Lightning round. The claim that it was the first time in his tenure as official judge and scorekeeper caused all of the mental alarms to go off. I knew that Bill has made that statement in the past and remembered that I wrote about it when happened, all the way back in 2015-08-01.

    In that blog post, I found that it had already happened two times, 2015-02-28 and 2013-03-09, while Bill Kurtis was judge and scorekeeper. Of the four total times there has been a three-way tie going into the Lightning round with Bill Kurtis was judge and scorekeeper, Brian Babylon was on the panel three times and Faith Salie twice; both of which, were on the 2016-06-11 show.

    I’m not sure if it was discussed during the taping of the live show and edited out; but, I wonder if Brian Babylon and Faith Salie any thoughts or comments about it.

  • Throwback Thursday: Winning Carl Kasell’s Message on Wait Wait 5 Years Ago Today

    It all started over seven years ago when I sent in an e-mail to Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! asking if I could be a listener contestant and that it would make for an awesome birthday present and added a small note about my Wait Wait Stats Page. I later found out that I was selected to be the listener contestant for the Not My Job round when Monica Seles was on as the guest back in 2009. Unfortunately, she kind of goose egged and I didn’t get to win Carl Kasell’s voicemail message.

    Fast forwarding to April 2011, I got a call from one of the Wait Wait producers who asked me I wanted to be a listener contestant on the coming week’s taping. The producer kind of felt bad about the whole Monica Seles not scoring well on the game. So, I accepted the offer and was lined up to be the first listener contestant on the show that taped exactly five years ago today, April 21, 2011, and later aired on my birthday. You can listen to the segment below:

    I’m not sure how much of it was reflected in my voice or mannerisms, or muted by the not-so-great headset I was using, but I had a strong mix of nervousness, anxiety, excitement and tiredness coursing through me. By the end of the segment, I had done enough to get Carl Kasell to record a voicemail message for me:

    Although I haven’t deployed Carl’s message on a voicemail device, it still is nice to have a small piece of Carl’s voice to call my own.

  • Shows in Which Panelists Have the Same First Initial

    Each of the panelists on the panel for the Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! show that aired on 2016-04-02 shared something in common: all three of their first initials were “A” (Adam, Amy and Alonzo). When my mind latched onto that, I started wondering if this was the first time something like that happened; or, was it a more common occurrence?

    So, I opened up my SQL management tool of choice and started working out the queries to get the information that I needed.

    The first query was to pull in all of the data from the show and panelist related tables and grab the first letter of the panelist names (first initial); then, I had to group the instances of the first initials together and only show the results that have a common panelist first initial count of 3. The query also filtered out any shows that were either repeats or Best Of shows. The latter could spoil the results due to having more than three panelists recorded.

    Shows Where Panelists Have Same First Initial - Query 1
    Getting list of shows where all three panelists have the same first initial

    The resulting output of the query kind of surprised me. Out of the 850 shows that have been taped (again, excluding repeats and Best Of shows), there have only been three instances in which all three panelists had the same first initial. Using that list of show dates, I crafted a simple query to list the names of the panelists for those three shows.

    Shows Where Panelists Have Same First Initial - Query 2
    Getting list of panelists based on previous list of shows

    The first instance was back in 2004-09-04, in which Roxanne Roberts, Richard Roeper, and Roy Blount, Jr. were on the panel. The next instance happened seven years later on 2011-09-03, in which Amy Dickinson, Adam Felber, and Alonzo Bodden were on the panel. The same set of panelists then appeared on the 2016-04-02 show.

    While running these queries and getting ready to write this blog post, I wanted to see what the distribution of panelists first initials looked like, and I ran the following query:

    Distribution of Panelists First Initials
    Distribution of Panelists First Initials

    From the results, there are nine panelists with a first initial of “A” (Aamer Haleem, Adam Burke, Adam Felber, Alison Stewart, Alonzo Bodden, Amy Dickinson, Andrea Michaels, Angela Nissel, and Aparna Nancherla), seven with a first initial of “P” (P.J. O’Rourke, Patt Morrison, Paul Provenza, Paula Pell, Paula Poundstone, Peter Grosz, and Peter Sagal), six with a first initial of “M” (Margo Kaufman, Marina Franklin, Maz Jobrani, Mike Birbiglia, Mo Rocca, and Moshe Kasher), five with a first initial of “K” (Karen Grigsby Bates, Keegan-Michael Key, Ken Jennings, Ken Rudin, and Kyrie O’Connor), and five with a first initial of “R” (Reza Aslan, Richard Roeper, Rosie Perez, Roxanne Roberts, and Roy Blount, Jr.).

  • #FactCheck: First Three-Way Tie Under Bill Kurtis’s Watch?

    At the end of the Lightning Fill-in-the-Blank round on the show that aired on 2015-11-07, all three panelists, Paula Poundstone, Amy Dickinson and Peter Grosz wound up in a three-way tie. Bill Kurtis stated that it was the first time that has happened under his watch [source] (nb: Peter Grosz also stated that three-way ties have never happened either.)

    Of course, such statements make my Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! alarms go off big time and I had to see if that statement was correct.

    With that, I cracked open my favorite database tool for querying the Wait Wait Stats Page database and started pounding away at the data. The following is the query that I used to pull in panelist scoring data and filtered out shows that were repeats or Best Of shows (which don’t have panelist scores anyway) and only return results in which Bill Kurtis was scorekeeper.

    Shows in which three-way ties happened with Bill Kurtis as scorekeeper
    Shows in which three-way ties happened with Bill Kurtis as scorekeeper

    Well, well… it looks like there were in fact two shows in which the panelists ended up in a three-way tie at the end of the Lightning round. The first three-way tie happened when Bill Kurtis was filling in for (now) Scorekeeper Emeritus Carl Kasell back in the show that aired on 2012-08-18. The second time happened just over a year ago with Bill Kurtis being the official scorekeeper on 2014-09-06.

    WWDTM Three Way Ties Bill Kurtis Panelists
    Panelists that finished the Lightning round in a three-way tie under Bill Kurtis’s watch

    Interestingly, Paula Poundstone was a panelist on the show that aired on 2012-08-18, with Luke Burbank and Faith Salie.

    So, that does not mean that the three-way tie at the end of the Lightning round on 2015-11-07 was Bill Kurtis’s first one as either fill-in scorekeeper or as the official scorekeeper.

  • #FactCheck: First Three-Way Tie Going Into Lightning Round

    On the Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! show that aired on 2015-08-01, at the beginning of the Lightning Fill-in-the-Blank round, or Lightning round for short, Bill Kurtis made the following statement:

    I can; it’s easy. First time ever, a three-way tie. [Source]

    Upon hearing that, a Wait Wait Stats alarm went off in my mind, because I knew that such three-way ties had in fact happened in the past and weren’t all that rare. That said, I wanted to find out how many three-way ties have actually happened in the past several years. Also, I wanted to know if it was the first time Bill Kurtis presided over a game in which all three panelists were tied going into the Lightning round.

    Before I go into the actual nitty-gritty of how I got to my answer, below is a quick refresher of the structure of the Wait Wait Stats Database by looking at its EER diagram:

    EER Diagram of the Wait Wait Stats Page Database
    EER Diagram of the Wait Wait Stats Page Database

    When it comes to which panelists are on which Wait Wait show and how they performed, with the exception of their bluff data, is stored in the “ww_showpnlmap” table; in which, I have tried to collect and enter in as much data as I have been able to when it comes to how points each panelist had at the start of the Lightning round; as well as, how many questions were answered correctly.

    So, I wanted to craft a query that pulled data from almost all of the tables to include: show date, host, scorekeeper, panelist and how many points the panelists had going into the Lightning round. The data would be grouped together and included two columns that show how many distinct scores there were going into the Lightning round (with 1 denoting a three-way tie) and a column with all of the scores concatenated together.

    Unfortunately, with my SQL query writing skills being a bit on the meh side, I ended up creating a view that handled everything but the listing of each of the panelists and used that view as a sub-query in another view that would combine everything together.

    This is what the query in the first view looks like this:

    SQL Query for v_ww_panelist_distinct_scores
    SQL Query for v_ww_panelist_distinct_scores

    This is what the query for the second view looks like:

    SQL Query for v_ww_panelists_lrnd_threewaytie
    SQL Query for v_ww_panelists_lrnd_threewaytie

    In the first query, I’m filtering out shows that are not “Best Of” shows and shows that are not a repeat show. I am also filtering out records that do not contain data for a panelist’s score going into the Lightning round.

    Running a query against the “v_ww_panelists_lrnd_threewaytie” view and doing a grouping against the show’s date returns a list of 29 shows (including the 2015-08-01 show) in which all three panelists went into the beginning of the Lightning round with a three-way tie.

    Games With Panelists in a Three-Way at Start of Lightning Round
    Games With Panelists in a Three-Way at Start of Lightning Round

    As you can see, before the 2015-08-01 game, Bill Kurtis has actually presided over two games that started off with a three way tie. So, even if his statement were implied to qualify that he meant that it was the first time he has seen a three-way tie entering the Lightning round, that would still be incorrect. Bill Kurtis had presided, as guest judge and scorekeeper, over a three-way tie at the start of the Lightning round on the show that aired on 2013-03-09. The other show in which Bill Kurtis witnessed the same thing was as official judge and scorekeeper on 2015-02-28 (which had Brian Babylon as a panelist).

    All Panelists Who Started Lightning Round in a Three-Way Tie (Best Viewed in a New Window)
    All Panelists Who Started Lightning Round in a Three-Way Tie (Best Viewed in a New Window)

    Looking at the full results, both Brian Babylon and Mo Rocca have been on multiple games in which they were part of a three-way tie at the start of the Lightning round. Up until the 2015-08-01 show, Faith Salie has never been a three-way tie going into the Lightning round.

    Another interesting note is that the number of points each panelist had in each of the three-way ties going into the Lightning round, except for one instance, was: 3. The one exception was the 2009-04-04 show in which Tom Bodett, Paula Poundstone and Mo Rocca each had two points going into the Lightning round.

    To summarize, Bill Kurtis was not correct in this statement on the Wait Wait show aired on 2015-08-01 when he said that it was the first time all three panelists were tied at the start of the Lightning Round. Prior to the 2015-08-01 show, there were 28 other occurrences of three-way ties at the start of the Lightning Round. Also, Bill Kurtis had also previously presided over two games in which the same three-way tie at the start of the Lightning Round occurred.

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