The notion that people would get their news from a humorous weekly National Public Radio quiz show, like the growing number who follow politics via "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," used to worry Peter Sagal.
But the host of NPR's "Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!" - the irreverent show in which he and a trio of panelists crack wise about current events - says he isn't bothered anymore.
"I've gone from being concerned to somewhat flattered to resigned to it," he says.
After all, he says, it's a product of our info-glut era: Too much information, not enough context. Or, as he puts it: "Turning to Jon Stewart, that's the only reasonable response to (presidential candidate) Ron Paul."
Fast on the heels of Super Tuesday, Sagal and company will tape an episode of "Wait Wait" on Thursday at the Mesa Arts Center.
The show, staged in the MAC's 1,600-seat Ikeda Theater, will be broadcast locally on KJZZ (91.5 FM) at 11 a.m. Saturday (repeated 5 p.m. Feb. 10) or available via podcast through iTunes or streaming on www.npr.org.
Panelists will be comedian Paul Provenza, Houston Chronicle blogger/editor Kyrie O'Connor and writer Adam Felber. Panelists are quizzed alongside a weekly guest celebrity (Barack Obama and Tom Hanks being recent notables) and call-in listeners, who compete for a distinct prize: a voice mail message from "Wait Wait" scorekeeper and veteran NPR newscaster Carl Kasell.
This isn't the first time an NPR show played the Mesa Arts Center. "Michael Feldman's Whad'Ya Know?" recorded an installment of its weekly show there in February 2006.
Those who didn't attend when "Wait Wait" came to Phoenix's Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa four years ago ("I remember spending a lot of time lounging by the pool," Sagal recalls) - or, in 2001, visited what is now the Marquee Theatre in Tempe - should know one more thing, besides the week's hot topics: The live show can get a little bawdier than what's edited for broadcast.
"The vibe in the theater is pretty raucous and fun," says Sagal, who stepped away from the microphone to write "The Book of Vice: Very Naughty Things (and How to Do Them)."
Sagal says he wrote the book - exploring sex, gambling and gluttony - in part to get away from his image as a self-described "mild-mannered, Harvard-educated NPR host - the man who put the second 'L' in 'vanilla.' " One review described it as "harmlessly prurient."
Sagal's reply: "That's what I'm going to put on my tombstone."