National Public Radio, commonly known as NPR, is a public radio channel that millions of people across America listen to every day, including Mr. Scott Summers, Apex High School English teacher. NPR’s daily shows often include games that listeners can participate in, such as the Chicago-based quiz show Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! When Summers heard NPR give out the number for the show while listening one day, he decided to take the opportunity and call in—and ended up on national public radio several weeks later.
“It was actually very surprising. My phone rang, and it was a number from Chicago that I didn’t recognize, so I answered. It was a producer from the show. I thought, ‘Is this really happening?’ It was so crazy, and I was not expecting it at all,” Summers says. The producers asked him if he wanted to be on the show and allowed him to choose which game he wanted to play. He ended up choosing the limericks game that consists of a fill-in-the-blank quiz in which rhyming clues are given about current events, and the player must figure out what fits the riddle and rhymes. “When they call, they play the three different games and say, ‘Which one do you want?’ The limericks game was the easiest one, so I thought, ‘Let me do that one so I do not embarrass myself on national radio.’”
A date and time was then set for Summers to record his appearance on the nationally-renowned show, but the show’s enormous following only slightly intimidated him. “I did not want anyone to say, ‘Wow, that guy is such an idiot!’ if I got one wrong, but I was not scared. It was more like, ‘Wow, this is going to be recorded on NPR forever.’” Summers’s appearance on Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! aired on March 12 and turned out to be a major success for the teacher. In addition to merely getting to appear on the famous radio show, he also won the game. This did not come as much of a surprise to him though, seeing as how he had spent the previous weeks preparing, and the game was something he was good at. “I knew I was going to do well because how hard is it to rhyme?” Summers says although his confidence did waver when he received a riddle about a bar and had to find the correct word that rhymed with daughter. “I thought, ‘Why would there be a bar that serves water? Is it really water?’ I got it right, but I just thought, ‘What is this?’” Despite questioning himself during that riddle, Summers won, and his victory gained him a message on his outgoing voicemail recorded by Carl Kasell, the show’s popular former scorekeeper.
In addition to a voicemail recorded by a celebrity, Summers’s win on NPR has also gained him a reputation at Apex High School. “Nobody out in public has recognized me, but people at school have come up to me and said, ‘Oh, I love Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me! I can’t believe you were on! Why didn’t you tell anybody?’ I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. I just thought it was cool, but a lot of teachers have said, ‘You did so well!’” Summers says, remaining humble. Regardless of the phenomenal experience of getting to appear on one of the United States’ most listened-to radio shows and winning the game he played, the English teacher has carried on with his normal life and is thankful for the exciting experience. Summers’s appearance can be found online at http://www.npr.org/programs/wait-wait-dont-tell-me/.