Sunday, March 17, 2013

SXSW: Wait, Wait... Isn't That Peter Sagal?

Posted By on Sun, Mar 17, 2013 at 11:00 AM

Peter Sagal's Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me! airs weekly on Boise State Public Radio.
  • Peter Sagal's Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me! airs weekly on Boise State Public Radio.

Peter Sagal, host of the wildly popular NPR quiz show, Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me!, admits to embracing the over-zealous adoration from a good many of his fans.

“I want to be a piece of meat, frankly,” said Sagal, when Boise Weekly caught up with the self-proclaimed "cultural Lothario" at Austin's SXSW Festival. “My dream is to have some beautiful young woman say to me, “Shut up, stop talking; I just want to look at you.”

To that end, Sagal has jumped the shark, and, while not doing the full monty, will reveal himself to his fans as the host of a new PBS television series on the Constitution.

The four-part program, with the decidedly un-“Wait Wait” title of Constitution USA with Peter Sagal, begins airing Tuesday, May 7. Sagal was in Austin recently to promote the series at SXSW, where both PBS and NPR were pumping their brands.

It remains to be seen whether the subject matter will lure the kind of female groupies he’s longing for, but Sagal’s producers do have a gimmick up their sleeves: They found out he likes riding motorcycles. So for his journey across the country asking Americans about one of their founding documents, he’s on that great symbol of freedom, a Harley, painted like an American flag, with “We the People” airbrushed on its gas tank.

“It’s an icebreaker,” said Sagal. “If you show up in a big, colorful motorcycle wearing boots and a helmet, people are happy to talk to you.”

For those who tire of brilliant but ponderous historians droning on about our rights in dimly lit rooms with floor-to-ceiling bookcases, Sagal promises his program will take a more hip approach.

“The whole point of having me host the show rather than one of the many experts is we wanted to get away from the model of a very, very smart person telling you the truth," said Sagal. "We wanted to have a smart but relatively uninformed person such as myself find out the truth along with you.”

But wait, wait… Peter Sagal didn’t make it to Idaho on his trip? He didn’t come to a state whose governor often carries a copy of the Constitution, and whose lawmakers routinely send memorials to Congress protesting violations of their citizens’ constitutional rights?

That is correct. What’s more, we are one of only three states Sagal has never been to, sharing that distinction with North Dakota and New Mexico. It’s an oversight he said he’d be glad to remedy.

“Let’s get noisy in Boise,” he said.

BW's Marcia Franklin chatted with Sagal about his new show, his chopper and she even put him in the hot seat with our own quiz about Idaho's constitutional connections:

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