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Original American Adventure header artGeorge Washington CarverMelvin PurvisJohn DillingerAbraham LincolnThomas JeffersonBenjamin Franklin

The American Adventure Radio Program

Dee-Scription: Home >> D D Too Home >> Radio Logs >> American Adventure

Beloved and well-respected CBS Broadcast Journalist Charles Kuralt is heard acting in many of the supporting roles of American Adventure programs
CBS Broadcast Journalist Charles Kuralt is heard acting in many of the supporting roles of American Adventure programs.

Popular National Public Radio broadcaster Carl Kasell is heard both announcing most of the American Adventure programs, as well as appearing in some of the supporting roles
NPR broadcaster Carl Kasell is heard announcing the American Adventure programs, as well as appearing in supporting roles.

Charles Kuralt - left - and Carl Kasell -at the mike - perform for a WUNC audience at the WUNC studios on the grounds of UNC's Chapel Hill campus circa 1954
Charles Kuralt - left - and Carl Kasell -at the mike - perform for a WUNC audience at the WUNC studios on the grounds of UNC's Chapel Hill campus circa 1954.

June 27 1956 Article on end of American Adventure broadcasts
June 27 1956 Article on end of American Adventure broadcasts


American Adventure was one of three dramatic, historical anthology projects undertaken by the University of North Carolina between 1950 and 1957. The American Adventure series broadcast nationally by NBC from 1955 to 1956 was actually the second in the series, or American Adventure II. But it was the only one of the series to air beyond UNC's student radio stations.

  • The first series, simply called American Adventure was aired as a subset of UNC's University Hour program broadcast throughout the various UNC campuses during 1950-1951.
  • The second series, referred to as American Adventure II under the UNC system, is the program that aired as NBC's American Adventure from 1955 to 1956.
  • The third series, referred to as American Adventure III under the UNC system, aired as Listen, America and broadcast throughout the various UNC campuses during 1956-1957.

Though Robert Schenken is credited with proposing the NBC series, it should be noted that director and writer John Ehle wrote, directed and conceived of most of the historical vignettes that comprised the American Adventure subset of 1950's University Hour programs, as well as the NBC-broadcast American Adventure programs of 1955 and 1956.

The NBC-broadcast series was quite unique on several levels.

  • It was the first series of authentic, historical broadcasts to air from a public radio station.
  • The entire production was performed, engineered and broadcast in-house by University of North Carolina personnel, students or residents of the local Chapel Hill and Charlotte campuses.
  • It introduced Charles Kuralt and Carl Kasell to a national audience.
  • Served as the 'proof of concept' brief to convince the UNC Chancellor to spin off the original WUNC station whose transmitter had been ruined. The new UNC station was upgraded with professional equipment, transmitters and personnel to better serve the community.

Carl Kasell serves as the series' announcer and Charles Kuralt was heard in several of the series' performances. Carl Kasell became prominent over National Public Radio as Bob Edwards' announcer and newsreader on Morning Edition. Charles Kuralt later became a world famous journalist and broadcaster for CBS Radio and Television, most remembered for his "On the Road" pieces for CBS' Sunday Morning broadcasts and his frequent appearances with Walter Kronkite on the CBS Evening News. Both announcers' highly distinctive voices with their deep registers are a few shades shallower in the American Adventure series of NBC broadcasts.

In later years, The University of North Carolina needed no help from NBC or any other major network for that matter. UNC's broadcast facilities--and their productions over the years--have become the envy of both Public Broadcasters and commercial and cable networks alike. One of the east coast's oldest and most well-endowed higher education systems, the University of North Carolina system set a high standard for college-operated broadcast facilities early on.

American Adventure remains a highly accurate, completely authentic treatment of forty-four major historic personalities and their beliefs, innovations and concepts. The remaining four programs specifically state their departure from historical provenances, in favor of their treatment of either a concept or subject of conjecture. In this respect, the accuracy of all of the American Adventure broadcasts maintained the highest standards of historical integrity.

Given the student- and community-supported performances throughout the series, the productions were extraordinarily well mounted. That many of the performers and participants went on to even greater accomplishments in both the Arts in general and Broadcasting in particular speaks well of the supporting engineers, players and staff.

The UNC's approach to most of these historical vignettes is also quite refreshing, highly innovative for the most part, and in many instances a radical new perspective on a famous event or personality. It's worth remembering that this was UNC's second refinement of this series, and as such had in many instances, further refined a particular view of these events and historic figures.

The twenty-five circulating exemplars of this fine historic drama anthology are as compelling and thought-provoking today as when they first aired. As historic time-capsules of the sociological and philosphical views of the 1950s they hold up even better. These recordings make a fine addition to any serious Golden Age Radio history archive.

University of North Carolina Seal

Series Derivatives:

AFRTS IED-501 American Adventure
Genre: Anthology of Golden Age Radio Historical Dramas
Network(s): NBC
Audition Date(s) and Title(s): Unknown
Premiere Date(s) and Title(s): 55-07-28 01 A King with a Crown
Run Dates(s)/ Time(s): 55-07-28 to 56-07-05; NBC; Forty-four, 25-minute programs; Thursdays, 8:30 p.m., then 9:05 p.m.
Syndication: Columbia Transcriptions; NBC Transcription.
Sponsors: Sustaining
Director(s): John Clayton ; Robert Shenken [Creator/Proposer]; Communication Center of The University of North Carolina [Producer]
Principal Actors: William Wadell, Jean Herring, Jud Beckwith, Bill Troutman, Charles Kuralt, John Ehle, Josephine Sharkey, Carl Venners, Charles Hadley, Gail Ehle, John Bonitz, Marian Fitzsimons
Recurring Character(s): None
Protagonist(s): None
Author(s): Consultants:
Dr. Bernard Boyd, Ch. Dept of Religion
Dr. John Gillan, Professor of Anthropology
Dr. Fletcher Green, Ch. Dept. of History
Dr. Everett W. Hall, Ch. Dept. of Philosophy
Dr. Frank W. Hamm, Professor of Law
Dr. Clifford Lyons, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
Dr. Howard Odom, Ch. Dept. of Sociology
Dr. William Petite, Asst. Prof. of Philosophy
Dr. Clemens Sommer, Professor of Art History
Writer(s) John Marsden Ehle Jr.
Music Direction: WUNC
Musical Theme(s): Unknown
Announcer(s): Carl Kasell
Estimated Scripts or
Episodes in Circulation: 25
Total Episodes in Collection: 23
The papers of John Marsden Ehle, Jr., newspaper listings.

Notes on Provenances:

Digital Deli Too RadioLogIc


Virtually all circulating logs of American Advnture are in error.

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We don't pronounce our Golden Age Radio research as 'certified' anything. By the very definition, research is imperfect. We simply tell the truth. As is our continuing practice, we provide our fully provenanced research results--to the extent possible--right here on the page, for any of our peers to review--or refute--as the case may be. If you take issue with any of our findings, you're welcome to cite any better verifiable source(s) and we'll immediately review them and update our findings accordingly. As more verifiable provenances surface, we'll continue to update the following series log, as appropriate.

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[Date, title, and episode column annotations in
red refer to either details we have yet to fully provenance or other unverifiable information as of this writing. Red highlights in the text of the 'Notes' columns refer to information upon which we relied in citing dates, date or time changes, or titles.]

The American Adventure Program Log

Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
A King with a Crown
Premiere Episode

Hearth Fire
55-08-04 Daily Review
"Man in the new world, his values, his characteristics, his beliefs, his dignity, his love of freedom" is the all-encompassing theme of American Adventure, new KNBC series (9 p.m. Thursdays)
Builders on the River

55-08-11 Long Beach Independent
KFI — American Adventure, "Builders on the River"
The Eccentric
55-08-18 Long Beach Independent
A study of Edgar Allen Poe will be dramatized on "American Adventure" over KFI at 9 p.m.
The Story of a Poet
55-08-25 Long Beach Independent
The story of Edgar Allen Poe
is told on "American Adventure"
af 9 p.m. on KFI.
Grandfather Jefferson
55-09-01 Long Beach Independent
KFI -- American Adventure - "Grandfather-Jefferson"
55-09-08 Long Beach Independent
KFI -- American Adventure
The Judas Tree
55-09-15 Long Beach Independent
KFI -- American Adventure

The Rat on Lincoln Avenue

55-09-22 Long Beach Independent
KFI -- American Adventure
Appointment at Ford's
55-09-29 Long Beach Independent
KFI -- American Adventure "Appointment at Ford's"
Dial Emergency
Preempted for a special presentation of Jose Ferrer as Cyrano de Bergerac
Leader of a Dream
Jonny Appleseed
The Battle
The Yankee Loves a Lady
The Orchid
Federal Lion
George Washington Carver
The Zenger Trial
Thomas Wolfe and An Unfound Door
From the University Hour program of 51-02-25 , An Unfound Door: Incidents from the Life of Thomas Wolfe
The Story of Cyrus Fields
Pierre L'Entant; Paint the Big Canvas
Joe Palmer; the Free Man
John Williams; Runaway Justice
The Demagogue
The Pioneer Call; Eli Lige - A Pioneer
Ezra Lee; Man of Iron
Pioneer Call
Title Unknown
Title Unknown
Title Unknown
Title Unknown
Title Unknown
Title Unknown
Title Unknown
Title Unknown
Title Unknown
Title Unknown
Title Unknown
Title Unknown
Title Unknown
Title Unknown
Title Unknown
Title Unknown
Title Unknown
Title Unknown
Title Unknown
The Story of Ellie Swain
The Unfound Door
[ Last Episode ]

56-07-05 Zanesville Signal
A STORY of conflicting desires in novelist Thomas Wolfe when he was a struggling young writer will) be told in "The Unfound Door" on AMERICAN ADVENTURE tonight at 9:05..-a story of how he, as an insecure young novelist, is offered lifetime securiry for a price. He rejects the offer, and goes on to follow his dieam.

From the University Hour program of 51-02-25 , An Unfound Door: Incidents from the Life of Thomas Wolfe

AFRTS IED-501 American Adventure [FEN] Radio Log

Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
Appointment at Ford's
56-06-16 Pacific Stars and Stripes
Monday—The American Adventure at 7:30 p.m. portrays "Appointment at. Ford's"—the story of Abraham Lincoln's death.
56-06-25 Dial Emergency
56-06-23 Pacific Stars and Stripes
MONDAY—On American Adventure at 7:30 p.m., you'll hear "Dial Emergency," the story of a young girl whose father has been injured in an automobile accident.
56-07-02 Johnny Appleseed
56-06-30 Pacific Stars and Stripes
MONDAY: This week,
American Adventure presents the well-known story of Johnny Appleseed, the wandering nature lover, at 7:30 p.m.
56-07-09 The Yankee Loves a Lady
56-07-07 Pacific Stars and Stripes
Earlier in 'the week, you'll heat the final program,.in the American Adventure series' entitled, "The Yankee Loves a Lady." Listening time is 7:30 p.m., Monday.

The American Adventure Radio Program Biographies

Charles Bishop Kuralt

(Journalist, Broadcaster, Author; Radio, Television and Film personality)

Birthplace: Wilmington, North Carolina, U.S.A.

Education: University of North Carolina

1955 American Adventure

Charles Kuralt High School Annual photo circa 1950
Charles Kuralt High School Annual photo circa 1950

UNC Tar Heel, Charles Kuralt circa 1954
UNC Tar Heel, Charles Kuralt circa 1954

Kuralt's 1955 campaign flyer for Daily Tar Heel Editor
Kuralt's 1955 campaign flyer for Daily Tar Heel Editor

Kuralt parleys a CBS Journalism Award into a full-time job with their News Bureau circa 1956
Kuralt parleys a CBS Journalism Award into a full-time job with their News Bureau circa 1958.

Charles Kuralt was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1934, a true Tar Heel. While attending the University of North Carolina, he was an active member in many campus organizations: Order of the Grail, Order of the Old Well, Phi Eta Sigma, and St. Anthony Hall. Despite all these extra-curricular activities, Charles Kurant spent the overwhelming majority of his time at The Daily Tar Heel--UNC's student newspaper, which he edited his senior year. Indeed, it's reported that Kuralt spent so much time at the Tar Heel that he ended up failing all of his other Senior classes. Kuralt was later given his diploma once he became a distinguished journalist.

Now straight out of college--sans degree-- Charles Kuralt worked as an intern at The Charlotte News. Within the year, he'd won CBS's Ernie Pyle Award. Instead of accepting the award and feeling proud, young Charles asked, "if you like my work, why don’t you just hire me."

They did. Charles Kuralt became CBS's youngest correspondent--at age 25. Kuralt covered the Vietnam War and stories throughout the world, including 23 Latin American countries. Gentle man that he was, Charles Kuralt did not enjoy war--nor covering war. Kuralt dropped hard news reporting and took to the road to do his own show called "On the Road with Charles Kuralt."

In the course of his career, Charles Kuralt was nominated for 13 Emmys, numerous other broadcasting awards, and had books on the New York Times Best Seller List several times. He helped the entire country learn to recognize that 'good news' is news. Charles Kuralt had a special talent for storytelling and finding interesting people to tell stories about. For his show, he criss-crossed the country searching for people who uniquely represented America and Americans.

Charles Kuralt would remain with CBS for the remainder of his professional career. His first assignment was writing the five-minute radio broadcasts that aired hourly between two and six AM. He began work each day at midnight, and worked until eight in the morning--thrilled to be working in the same building as his hero, Edward R. Murrow.

After only a week of substituting for a vacationing writer on Murrow's nightly broadcast, Kuralt was transferred to the fledgling television news department, as a writer for the CBS Evening News. A writer's job was considered a plum position for a novice like Kuralt, but he was eager to be a reporter--out in the field. Indeed, Kuralt took a cut in pay to return to the graveyard shift--this time as a reporter contact on the assignment desk, where he might have the opportunity to cover breaking news.

Within the year CBS offered him the job of his dreams. He was 25, and now had the title of CBS News Correspondent, just like his idols, Edward R. Murrow and Eric Sevareid. Kuralt was everywhere, covering political conventions, presidential campaigns, wars in the Congo, Laos and Vietnam, school integration in the South and piracy on the high seas.

By 1960, he was the first host of the prime time TV series Eyewitness. As Chief Latin American Correspondent he visited all 23 nations of the region. In 1963 he served as Chief West Coast Correspondent for CBS and then returned to the New York Bureau.

But it was in October 1967, that he began to travel the back roads of America, producing his famous "On the Road" segments for the CBS Evening News. Over the next 20 years, Kuralt and his crew visited every state of the Union in their battered motor home, logging more than a million miles in the process.

Kuralt and his three-man team did stories on
"wrestlers and jugglers and mountain climbers, traffic cops, tattoo artists, gandy dancers, sheep shearers, bagel bakers, horseshoe players, rodeo riders, sorghum makers and seashell collectors." Kuralt's discoveries included a 104 year-old jogger, a man who lived in a house made of beer bottles, and the owner of the world's largest ball of string.

Well into the 1980s, Charles Kuralt continued to report from the road, all the while flying back to New York each weekend to anchor the CBS Sunday Morning show. During the Persian Gulf crisis, he co-anchored the nightly CBS News broadcast America Tonight. Over the course of his career, he won three Peabody awards and ten Emmy Awards for his broadcast journalism. Charles Kuralt died in New York City at the age of 62.

Kuralt made a career of searching for the insignificant and elevating it to prose and visual poetry. He kept pitching the idea of "On the Road" at CBS until the network agreed to a three-month trial in 1967. His first stop was Vermont for a piece on the fall foliage, with this Kuralt narration:

"It is death that causes this blinding show of color, but it is a fierce and flaming death. To drive along a Vermont country road in this season is to be dazzled by the shower of lemon and scarlet and gold that washes across your windshield."

Kuralt brought the same outlook and sensibility to CBS's "Sunday Morning" for 15 more years. "All good television is about telling stories," said "60 Minutes" executive producer Don Hewitt. "Nobody told them better than Charles Kuralt."

He found a butcher who could hold 30 eggs in one hand, a swimming pig in a water-ballet show, a light bulb that had stayed lit in a firehouse since 1901. He did pieces on a school for unicyclists, gas station poets, horsetraders and a 104-year-old entertainer who performed in nursing homes.

"The kind of stories I like best
are light and funny ones," Kuralt once said. "People overcoming obstacles -- a farmer who builds a yacht to see the world, or a man who's irritated there isn't a straight road from Duluth to Fargo and spends 25 years building one."

Kuralt also wrote several books:
"To The Top of the World," "Dateline America," "On the Road with Charles Kuralt," "Southerners," "North Carolina Is My Home," and "A Life on the Road."

Kuralt continued to work for CBS until 1994 and on July 4, 1997 died from heart failure and lupus.

Carl Kasell
Radio and Television Announcer; Journalist; News Director

Birthplace: Goldsboro, North Carolina, U.S.A.

Education: B.A., English; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

1955 American Adventure
1979 Morning Edition
1997 Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me

Carl Kasell circa 2002
Carl Kasell circa 2002

Carl Kasell circa 2000
Carl Kasell circa 2000

Carl Kasell circa 2005
Carl Kasell circa 2005

Carl Kasell is an American radio personality, most widely known as a newscaster for National Public Radio. A native of Goldsboro, North Carolina, Kasell was a student of drama in high school, where one of his mentors was Andy Griffith, then a high school drama instructor. Although Griffith urged Kasell to pursue a career in Theatre, Kasell took to Radio at an early age as well. During his time at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he helped launch local radio station WUNC with fellow student Charles Kuralt. He worked as an announcer and DJ at a radio station in Goldsboro before moving to the Washington, DC area in 1965. He advanced to the position of news director at WAVA in Arlington, Virginia. As News Director in Virginia, he hired Katie Couric as an intern one summer. He joined National Public Radio's staff as a news announcer in 1975.

He has been the news announcer for NPR's Morning Edition since its inception in 1979. In 1998, Kasell was finally able to join the phenomenon of radio game shows which attracted him to the genre in his youth when NPR launched its weekly news quiz, Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, with Kasell as official judge and scorekeeper. The prize that Wait Wait... offers to its listener contestants is a recording of Kasell's voice for their personal telephone answering machines. He is a member of the North Carolina Journalism Hall of Fame. In 1999, Kasell shared in the George Foster Peabody Award given to Morning Edition.

Here's more on Carl Kasell from the NPR website:

Carl Kasell is the official judge and scorekeeper for NPR's weekly news quiz show, Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, which premiered in January 1998. Kasell also provides newscasts at the top of each hour throughout NPR's daily newsmagazine Morning Edition, a role he has held since the program's inception in 1979. A veteran broadcaster, Carl Kasell's radio career spans more than 50 years.

Before his work with Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, Kasell hosted NPR's Early Morning Edition, a one-hour news program created in 1997 and incorporated into Morning Edition at the start of 1998.

In 2001, Kasell was awarded the Development Exchange Inc's (DEI) President's Award for his lifetime contributions to public radio. In 1996, Kasell was honored with the Leo C. Lee Friend of Public Radio News Award for lasting commitment to public radio journalism. He also received the Public Radio Regional Organization (PRRO) Award in 1991 for what a member of the selection committee called his "consistently flawless delivery" of newscasts.

Kasell joined NPR in 1975 as a part-time newscaster for Weekend All Things Considered, and later became a full-time NPR newscaster for Morning Edition. Prior to that, he spent ten years at radio station WAVA in Arlington, Virginia, first as morning anchor, then as news director.

Before moving to the Washington, D.C., area in 1965, Kasell was morning deejay and newscaster at WGBR-AM in Goldsboro, North Carolina.

Kasell was fascinated by radio at a young age, and recalls playing deejay with his grandmother's wind-up Victrola in Goldsboro. He worked at a local radio station part-time during high school, and was an actor in local theater.

Kasell is also an accomplished magician and a UNC basketball fan. He currently lives with his wife Mary Ann in Washington, DC.

When the University of North Carolina inducted Carl Kasell of National Public Radio (NPR) into its journalism hall of fame in 2004, he joined a list of distinguished names that includes David Brinkley, Charles Kuralt and, more recently, Charlie Rose, all best known for their work on television.

Not Carl Kasell: "I've been a radio guy since the git-go, starting out while I was still in high school at a station in my hometown of Goldsboro [N.C.]. I met Charles Kuralt in the mid-1950s when we both took radio and TV courses at UNC, but our careers took slightly different paths," recalls Kasell, who this year celebrates 30 years at NPR. "Charlie was more interested in print journalism—he became the editor of "The Daily Tar Heel"—and I was already hooked on radio."

In 1965, Kasell took a job as a disc jockey at WPIK, a small station in Alexandria, Va., playing "country and western, pops, and in the mid-morning what was called 'music for the housewives.'" To supplement his income, he took a weekend job at WAVA, an early "all-news" station in nearby Arlington, and found that to his liking. In 1967 he "left the records behind" to join WAVA full time as an announcer, eventually moving up to news director.

"And then I got a call [in 1975] from a friend working at this new outfit called National Public Radio, who said they needed a part-time newscaster for 'Weekend All Things Considered.' I took that, went full-time in 1979, and have been here ever since."

Over the past three decades, Kasell has become one of the best-known members of the NPR family. In addition to his role (since 1977) as the newscaster on "Morning Edition," he is also the official judge and scorekeeper on NPR's weekly quiz show, "Wait Wait…Don't Tell Me!" an eclectic mixture of information, news and comedy. Host Peter Sagal fields answers from listeners, guests and members of a "panel of three experts" drawn from a group that includes comedian Paula Poundstone, Mo Rocca (former correspondent for "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart"), humorists P.J. O'Rourke and Roy Blount, Jr., and journalists Roxanne Roberts and Charlie Pierce. One of the show's staples is "Who's Carl This Time?" in which Kasell impersonates that week's quotable celebrity.

Let the envious be warned: Since 1979, Carl Kasell's work day has stretched from 2:00 a.m. to his final newscast at 11:00 a.m. He says that from the beginning, determined to spend time with his first wife, Clara, and their son, Joseph, he would sleep for three to three-and-a-half hours each afternoon, have dinner and visit with them, and then grab another nap later in the evening. Clara died of cancer in 1997; with Joseph married and living in Northern Virginia, he could have altered his routine, but by then was so used to it he didn't bother.

"There's the newscast family, and then there's the staff of 'Wait Wait…Don't Tell Me!' and they're a real hoot." (A prime example: When a female caller from Kentucky enthused over Kasell, panelist Mo Rocca replied, "Carl Kasell is a god. When we've done live shows, he walks out on the stage first. When he starts speaking and everyone recognizes the voice, women in their forties and fifties revert to their former teeny-boppers-at-the-Beatles-concert selves. They fling their tote bags aside—most of which have stray bananas mingled in with New Yorkers and Nations—and go nuts.")

All of those NPR families, large and small, showed up from various parts of the country in May 2003, when Kasell married widowed psychotherapist Mary Ann Foster, a native Washingtonian. They'd met in London at the wedding of "Morning Edition" producer Barry Gordemer. Peter Sagal officiated at a non-traditional ceremony; Cokie Roberts, Rocca and Bob Edwards (then still with NPR) were among the witnesses.

Long a fan of all sorts of radio shows, from quizzes and comedies to Saturday morning programs for kids, Kasell counts among his greatest thrills the time he met and had a long conversation with Fred Foy, the longest-running announcer/narrator on "The Lone Ranger." What Kasell likes so much about his current work on the air, especially with the quiz program, is that he is once again doing what he grew up in the business doing. While Kasell and his friend Charles Kuralt acted in a number of radio dramatizations at UNC, he says he never really caught the performing bug. Announcing the major news events of the day for five decades has always been enough excitement for him, he says, citing especially the fall of communism in 1991, the Challenger disaster, the bombing in Oklahoma City and 9/11.

Being a radio personality makes it easier for Carl Kasell to enjoy his privacy, but from time to time he is surprised to learn that he and his mellifluous voice are recognized.

Begun as a gimmick when the show's budgetary cupboard was bare, the most coveted prize on "Wait Wait" has become Kasell's voice on your answering machine. The winner writes the copy, and Kasell gives the reading his professional best. "That has blossomed and ballooned into the biggest thing," Kasell says. "It's hard to understand, but everybody seems to want 'the message,' and I have done hundreds over the past few years. They have me do anything from a straight message to singing a song or reciting a limerick and answering as if I were [their] cat!"

Retirement? Kasell answers the question with a story. "About 10 years ago in Boston I was on a program with the Smothers Brothers, and when I told Dickie I thought they'd have retired by now, he said, 'Retire is what people do from work. I don't call this work.' That's just how I feel about what I do."

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