Scott Summers only moved to Apex from Raleigh last month, but that didn’t stop him from giving his new home a shout-out on national radio last weekend.
Summers, a 25-year-old English teacher at Apex High School, appeared on the popular NPR news quiz show “Wait Wait ... Don’t Tell Me!” Saturday, March 12. And when he was chatted up by host Peter Sagal, Summers was sure to tout the town’s motto, his school mascot and Apex’s distinction as Money magazine’s No. 1 place to live.
“You’re calling from Apex, North Carolina?” Sagal asked, sounding somewhat incredulous.
“That’s right, it’s the peak of good living,” Summers said.
“Apex, the name Apex, as a town, that’s a reputation to live up to,” Sagal asked. “Are you on the top of something?”
“It’s the number one place to live in America,” Summers replied.
Summers, who used to teach at Mills Park Middle School, in Cary, won his portion of the show, a fill-in-the-blank limerick quiz that lasted just a few minutes. His prize? Having Carl Kasell, the show’s popular former scorekeeper and a UNC-Chapel Hill graduate, record a message on his outgoing voicemail.
Here’s what Summers had to say about his public radio debut:
Q: Anyone who’s listened to the show long enough has imagined themselves playing. How did you make that happen?
Summers: So when you listen to the show, they always give that number – 1-888-Wait-Wait – and I was waiting for my fiancée while she was at an appointment, so I said,
“Well, OK, why not?” I didn’t know that when you call, you don’t get to talk to an operator. You have to leave a voicemail, so I tried to sound as high energy as possible.
I told them I was a public school teacher, and basically I said public radio is all I have left. I ended up forgetting about it, but one day, maybe a week and a half later, I got a call with a Chicago area code.
I don’t know anyone in Chicago, but I said, “What the heck?” and I picked up. It was a producer asking if I wanted to be on the show, but they said I needed to have a landline, which is bizarre, and that I needed to block off some time between 8:45 and 9 o’clock on Thursday evening and that they’d call me. I had to ask around to find a friend with a landline, but it worked out.
Q: How did you prepare?
Summers: They ask you which game you want to play, and I said I’d do the limericks. Because I knew that’d give me a chance of not embarrassing myself on public radio. I went back on NPR’s website and was reading all the news headlines. My fiancée was quizzing me, asking me what Donald Trump said this week, what happened in Flint, Mich. That kind of thing.
Q: Did you plan to plug Apex the way you did?
Summers: It’s amazing how much gets cut out of your interview. The segment ended up being about five minutes, but we talked for maybe 10 or 12 (minutes). They were kind of messing around with Apex’s name, more even than you hear on the show.
And when Peter said something about Apex having a reputation to live up to, the first thing that came to my mind was, “Well, it’s the peak of good living.” I love living in Apex. It feels so much like a community. Everyone is so friendly, everyone says “hello” to each other, and I can see why it would be the best place to live in America.
Q: Had you ever been on a game show before?
Summers: I’ve taken the “Jeopardy!” test, but it was so impossible that I figured “Wait Wait” was more in my wheelhouse.
Q: How did your friends react? Your students?
Summers: It wasn’t until Saturday, the day it aired, that I started blasting my social media telling people to tune in. That was when I started getting texts and phone calls from people. I also told my students to listen, and I was thinking about playing it during class, but we had a lot to get through. The other teachers were more excited than they were, I think.
Q: Since you won, what are you going to have Carl Kasell say on your answering machine?
Summers: I haven’t decided yet, but I did get a call from the producer yesterday. All you have to do is type up the message and send it to this Gmail account, he’ll record it, and they’ll send it back to you as an audio file.
I’m not sure yet what that will be, though. I want to do something funny, but I’ll have to make sure it’s perfect before I send it out, since I’m an English teacher. I’ve been mulling some things over in my head, but I haven’t totally decided yet.
Gargan: 919-460-2604; @hgargan