It’s safe to say that National Public Radio has always been a bit on the geeky side of things. It’s filled with shows that engage your brain, whether by giving you a different perspective on the news, by providing insight into interesting people’s lives and careers, or by just telling interesting and/or funny stories. And it also has Car Talk.
The NPR news quiz show Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! has long been a favorite of mine, so I was pleased when I heard there was a new quiz show coming to NPR called Ask Me Another. I began to get excited when I heard it was a trivia- and puzzle-based quiz show, as I’ve been addicted to trivia and puzzle since I was a kid — heck, I was on Jeopardy! years ago. When I heard who was handling music for the show, I decided that someone had clearly looked inside my head, determined what kind of show I would like best, and then produced it, because they could not possibly have chosen anyone closer to my geeky heart.
Yes, the show’s house musician is none other than geek music icon and geek dad Jonathan Coulton! Many of the segments on Ask Me Another have a musical component to them, and JoCo applies his voice and guitar in support of them. This provides some slightly surreal moments for fans of his, as you get to hear him sing things you likely never expected (or possibly wanted) to — such as Queen’s “Radio Ga Ga” or Starship’s “We Built This City.” But he also plays bits of some of his own pieces in between segments of the show, so have no fear, he’s still the same JoCo you know and love.
The rest of the show is great fun, too. It’s played in rounds, each with two contestants vying for a spot in the final “Ask Me One More” round. While the trivia isn’t very obscure, the puzzles around it are generally clever enough that nobody is likely to reach the final round without some effort. They also bring on a “mystery guest” each episode, providing periodic clues to his/her identity leading up to a chat and puzzle round with said guest. In the first episode, I should mention, the guest is someone also near and dear to many geeks’ hearts.
Three episodes of Ask Me Another have aired thus far (all of the episodes for this run were taped some months ago, but they seem to be planning to do more soon), and can be listened to on the show’s website or downloaded from the podcast feed.