Public Radio Listeners Hated Kim Kardashian on Wait Wait

Illustration for article titled Public Radio Listeners Hated Kim Kardashian on Wait Wait

This past weekend, Kimberly Noel Kardashian West was on Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me!, a program produced by WBEZ and NPR and broadcast nationwide. She was pretty funny. Also pretty funny: the long-time listeners of the show who hated that she was on it.


“From time to time, we have someone on the show who we can’t believe agreed to be on the show,” guest host Mike Pesca said before Kim’s segment. Unfortunately for the show, a number of listeners emailed NPR’s ombudsman Elizabeth Jensen telling her that they can’t believe Wait Wait booked Kim either, an outrage similar to how Kim was dismissed before appearing a Re/code’s Code/Mobile tech conference. Just as tech people told Re/code’s Kara Swisher that she had “jumped the shark” (a term the Kardashian sisters did not know), NPR listeners said the same to Jensen.

Jensen writes that she loves getting emails from Wait Wait listeners:

I will admit it. In my not–quite five months as NPR’s Ombudsman, I’ve found one reliable source of joy: the Monday morning email—there’s at least one each week—from a listener outraged by whatever bad taste joke Wait Wait... Don’t Tell Me! has told on its latest episode. This Monday, the inbox was overflowing.

And with words like these, how could you not?

“Everyone is allowed one mulligan, and you just had yours.”

“She has no business in any civilized forum.”

“I have enjoyed your show for years, but I found the inclusion of Kim Kardashian so misguided and offensive, I fear I will never be able to listen again (hyperbolic, yes, but vapid, talentless, and shallow individuals who have not earned fame or fortune through an ounce of hard work have no place on a show of such caliber).”


Even people who don’t understand how donating to their local public radio station doesn’t actually directly support NPR or WBEZ, which is NPR’s Chicago affiliate (and, full disclosure, my former employer), were upset.

“I recently gave a small gift to my local NPR station. Had I heard your Saturday show before I made my gift, I wouldn’t have donated. The Kardashians represent much of what is wrong with America today — and I listen to NPR to get AWAY from Kardashian-like garbage.”


Luckily, public radio listeners are always pretty polite.

Monthly sustaining donor Sharonn Flaucher of Tuftonboro, N.H., is “seriously thinking about dropping my membership. I thought NPR had a certain class/values and it looks like we might be heading in another direction that I’m not willing to go with you. Just thought I’d give you a heads up. Have a sparkling day!”


You know what, let’s all chill and have a sparkling day.

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Image via Jason Merritt/Getty



Lifetime NPR listener here, and not a Kardashian fan, but the interview was seriously NBD. She was pretty charming, actually. When I read all the comments on NPR’s Facebook page I was pretty appalled. WWDTM has interviews like this all the time with celebrities of the moment.

Emmanuel Hapsis of KQED posted the best response to all the “outrage.” (…) Sample quote: “This preoccupation with identity and how one is perceived by others also happens to be something Kim Kardashian knows a lot about. She meticulously crafts how the public sees her (in full face, at all times, mostly) and what they find out about her. In this same way, the people leaving these incensed comments or posting about how they wish Kim would just go away on their Facebook pages are also maintaining some idea of themselves that they want to project or would like to believe about themselves. Kim puts beauty first, others lead with intelligence, but, in the end, it’s ultimately the same thing: a facade.”