Carl Kasell, longtime newscaster, University of North Carolina alumnus and co-founder of radio station WUNC, has died, NPR reported.
Kasell died Tuesday from complications from Alzheimer's disease in Potomac, Maryland. He was 84.
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Kasell was the voice of NPR news for 30 years, beginning in 1975 part time before becoming the network's full-time morning newscaster in 1977, followed by the Peabody Award-winning "Morning Edition" program in 1979, before he joined "Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!" as judge and official scorekeeper of the news quiz show. He had a 50-year career in broadcasting.
Kasell retired from NPR's popular "Wait Wait ..." in 2014.
For three decades, Kasell wrote and read seven nine-minute newscasts each morning, his dulcet drawl becoming an NPR signature and an everyday ritual for millions of listeners.
The beginning of Kasell's radio career goes back nearly 60 years, to high school. His first on-air stint was reading high school news on weekends on an AM station in his hometown, Goldsboro. He also performed in drama productions in high school, where Andy Griffith was one of his teachers.
Kasell and his fellow UNC student Charles Kuralt founded WUNC while at the university. He majored in English at UNC.
Kasell did not graduate from UNC, according to the university, because he was drafted into the U.S. Army after four years as a student. Kasell worked as a morning DJ and newscaster at WGBR-AM in Goldsboro after his stint in the Army, before moving to the Washington, D.C., area in 1965.
"If not for radio, I'd probably be working at the local supermarket doing who knows what," Kasell told the N&O in 2010. "But after I got that first break at 16, I was not going to do anything else. I had my mind set on radio one way or another."
Kasell joined NPR in 1975 as a part-time news announcer for "Weekend Edition."
In 2004, Kasell was inducted into the North Carolina Journalism Hall of Fame, which recognizes North Carolina natives who have made exceptionally distinguished and career-long contributions to the field of journalism.
"People like Carl Kasell become part of the diurnal passage of our days in very significant ways," Robert Thompson, a professor of television and popular culture at Syracuse University told the N&O in 2010. "They transcend the work they do to the point that their presence becomes important to us - especially if they're there a long time. He's a lot like Johnny Carson used to be."
Kasell was a News & Observer Tar Heel of the Week, published on Jan. 3, 2010.
Kasell was fascinated by radio at a young age, and recalls playing deejay with his grandmother's wind up Victrola in Goldsboro, according to his NPR obituary.
Kasell also was an accomplished magician and a UNC basketball fan.
For a timeline of Kasell's life and legacy, go to wunc.org.
To listen to a 1958 radio jingle from Kasell, go to soundcloud.com/wunc/carl58wgbr.
Tar Heels are reacting to news of his death: