NPR will end ‘Ask Me Another’ in September

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Coulton and Eisenberg

NPR announced Monday that it will end production of Ask Me Another in September after nine years of producing the weekly hour of comedy, trivia and music.

More than 300 stations air the show, hosted by comedian and writer Ophira Eisenberg and featuring Jonathan Coulton as in-house musician. AMA became a “refuge” for its grateful fans during the pandemic, wrote Anya Grundmann, NPR’s SVP of programming and audience development, in an email to public radio station leaders.

However, “despite the strong work of the team, AMA never quite found its full audience,” Grundmann wrote, “and because of our limited resources, we’re sunsetting the show.” The last episode will feed the weekend of Sept. 24.

Eisenberg told Current that she was “shocked” when she learned of AMA’s cancellation and saddened considering the show’s successful efforts to adopt a remote production model when the pandemic hit.

“Luckily, I’m going to be left with all the love from listeners,” she said, adding that fans have been “loud” about their appreciation of the show over the past year. But she knew that the economic strains of the pandemic could spur such decisions.

“I hate that we are part of that,” Eisenberg said.

“I’m really sad because the show had so much potential, and I think that NPR has had a number of shows in its history that had potential,” said Eric Nuzum, who created the show in 2012 while VP of programming at NPR. “But the organization just didn’t have the capacity to grow it and the tenacity to not give up on it.” (Nuzum, who left NPR for Audible in 2015 and now has a podcast production and consulting company, is also a contributor to Current.)

“I don’t think people knew what to do” with AMA, Nuzum said, and NPR has “many other important things to do. Unfortunately, it’s an understandable choice.”

NPR launched AMA at a time when the network’s board had asked management to develop new weekend programs, Nuzum said, looking ahead to what might replace shows such as Car Talk. Nuzum’s idea for AMA was inspired by a station event where Will Shortz, the New York Times puzzle editor who also appears on Weekend Edition Sunday, quizzed audience members with puzzles for an hour.

“The energy was crazy,” Nuzum said. Shortz ended up recommending the puzzle writers who joined AMA’s initial staff.

Grundmann wrote in the email to stations that NPR will provide “additional operational details” about the show next month. NPR did not share information about the future of the show’s staff.

49 thoughts on “NPR will end ‘Ask Me Another’ in September

    • Yeah. Longtime NPR listener/subscriber, west coast. I tried many times to listen. I like the guy with the music. A few weeks ago an incredibly annoying guest was on, and was giving a spiel, something about a pug that went to an Ivy League school, that comment followed by uproarious laughter… I was like… OK a pug. Goes to an Ivy League School (can’t remember which) .. WHY is that funny. And so it went.
      That being said, I can’t relate to NPR’s comedy shows. But lots of people like them.

    • “ Trying too hard “? Could not disagree with you more. AMA is one of those rare podcasts that is fun, educational and relatable to a diverse audience. Not buying the “ budget issues” excuse – there has to be more to this story. Please reconsider cancelling this creative and enjoyable show.

  1. I love these unique talented, funny people and the creative angles they bent to make it entertaining to me. Both Hosts deserve better than NPR constraints. Better and more Human than that tired old panel show formula Wait Wait – for nothing. Guess were not the audience you seek. Still best for news thats it.

  2. It’s difficult to redefine a system to attract a new younger group of people. NPR, PBS, and even Applebee’s risk losing their dedicated patrons as they try to become something new for the next generation. Is this a good idea or should these entities play themselves out as their audience ages out. Or, will younger people age into the “tired old format”.
    Is the demise of this show the fault of NPR? Is there a better place for AMA or would a slightly different format have worked better in the house of public radio. Ophira Eisenberg was a very good host and pleasant to listen to, but, maybe, the trivia was too trivial. Jonathan Coulton is an excellent musician, but, maybe, singing different words to popular songs wasn’t how he could have been used best. I would have rather heard him perform songs with another musician or two and show his full talent.
    A complete renewal of A Prairie Home Companion type show that was so different that it would be difficult to recognize, with great musicians that showed up every week so we could hear new shows might be a good start.
    AMA was for a different audience than WWDTM and I don’t believe it should have followed in the lineup. (At least as my local station.)
    Ophira and Jonathan, I for one, believe you are both full of talent. I wish you success. Try something different. We need you to.

      • Disliked old PHC, disliked new PHC. Liked AMA a lot because of the puzzles and Jonathan and Ophira, and even more so during pandemic, when it wasn’t random contestants, but celebs that made it more lively and funny.

  3. Sad day for me. I listened to Car Talk and Ask me another podcast every week. What new trivia show are you going to do?

  4. I guess there’s patience or accounting for radio and television shows that last longer than someone’s attention span, “Meet the Press” at 70 years remains the King of the Longevity Hill. I worked in radio broadcasting and print journalism for decades — probably because I have a longer attention span and appreciation for longevity. Acknowledging the long history of European and Asian nations, I assume the founders of the United States and other nations of the Western Hemisphere expected these nations to survive adolescence. They probably did not have ADD, y’think?

  5. Why is the younger “demographic” the goal. Having worked in student and commercial radio, as well as print for decades, I thought that working hard to build a loyal audience and continuing to appreciate them was the idea. Guess it’s ju$t cotton candy, and short attention spans. Ed Sullivan, “Bonanza,” “Meet the Press” and other programs had a better mission and endurance.

    • It was my assumption, based on content and presentation, that AMA was an attempt to reach a younger demographic. I may have been mistaken.

  6. I’m in tears at this news. I found this show a couple of years ago and haven’t missed an episode since. I’ll have to seek something to fill this void, but honestly it won’t be with NPR.

    • I agree. It is hard to find clean comedy that is also educational. I look forward to every episode. I smile, laugh, and learn with every episode.

      • I concur, Patricia! I hope this cancellation will be reconsidered if enough fans voice our sentiments. Contemporary comedy, without foul language, is refreshing and rare.
        Ophira thinks quickly on her feet and Jonathan works so hard every week to successfully crank out so much material The pair has great chemistry. PLEASE NPR, DO NOT CANCEL THIS SHOW!

  7. Yeah, I figured that as I could not get a lot of the trivia the show was intended for people younger than me. Which is fine. The show is enjoyable anyway. And once in a while it has a real gem, like today’s re-run of an interview and quiz with the great Rita Dove. Amazing.

    I hope the show finds another sponsorship or outlet.

  8. Extremely disappointing. This was a rare convergence of nerdy humor, Gen-X sensibilities, hosts who managed to be kind-hearted without being saccharine, and fun interactions with interesting real people (the contestants). Was it funny 100% of the time? No. But not even Seinfeld or The Office batted 100%. (I’ll say the music parody games and pun-filled quizzes were my favorites.) This is a real bummer and I hope the show can find a podcasting-like outlet. I’ll be on the lookout.

  9. CBC Radio should pick this up. It’s a brilliant show, much more challenging than WWDTM, and since Eisenberg is Canadian she should be game. (Coulton could phone it in, that worked fine during the pandemic.)

  10. I am so disappointed. I love this show and the hosts. They are so clever and smart and their rapport is so special. Ophira and John shared their lives with us during the pandemic and shared their friends too. I will miss them.

  11. Sad to see the show end. I really hope that you will keep introducing other fun non news type shows. Tha world is harsh, the news is bad, we need some relief!

  12. I am very sad about the cancellation of Ask Me Another. I appreciate the effort of Ophira and John bringing a bit of levity into our lives each week.

  13. Okay I’m a Boomer, so not part of the “targeted younger audience,” but I LOVE AMA, snd I’m BUMMED!! It’s subtler, smarter, and more relevant than Wait, Wait. Very disappointed. Such a clever and fun show, without being offensive (which Wait Wait can’t say.)

  14. I like this show sometimes. I am sad to see it end. If I’m honest I will miss Jonathan’s re-worded songs most. The show often feels a bit weird and awkward. There have been a few times this past year when I just couldn’t stand the fake laughter. Still, I’m sad to see it go just because it’s part of my Saturday morning routine in Austin. My heart is still broken that Car Talk is gone. I am now officially asking Ray Magliozzi and NPR to bring Car Talk back with a son or nephew or another friend. I know I’ll miss Tom but give it a try. BTW, there was plenty of fake laughter on car talk but it was such hardy fake laughter that I like it anyway.

  15. I learned of the news during today’s broadcast and have listened to the show here in NYC on WNYC AM @ noon every Saturday, have been a fan since the very first show and am deeply saddened. Jonathan and Ophira pandemic shows were comfort since both were out here in Brooklyn and I could relate to their remote shows, I was in the live audience several times at Bell House and even submitted a haiku to be a contestant. Sad news NPR! Being a Generation X’er and a sustaining member, AMA was one of my favorites

  16. What a sad day. AMA is a thoughtful show that brings levity to me each week. I know that Ophira and Johnathan will continue on in their own amazing careers. So, the big loss is the NPR audience.

  17. This is a tragedy. This show is so special and perfect for NPR weekend. Hope they reconsider the cancellation or at least find a new home for AMA.

  18. I would also like to add my voice to those protesting this decision. I know some idiot decided to take “New Sounds” off the air and make it an internet show only, but there was sufficient support to reverse that decision, so i hope that this is not the final word on AMA. Who can we talk to about this travesty? “Fresh Air”, “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me,” and “Ask Me Another” are my favorite non-news shows on NPR. I listen to AMA WWDTM both at least two times, live when I can and through their podcasts otherwise. Both shows are challenging and humorous, and call out to the trivia buffs in all of us, each in their unique way. I also am a big fan of Jonathan Coulton and loved his show summaries for the CBS show BrainDead (which was anything but).

  19. I enjoyed the show more when it was live and featured audience members participating in the quizzes. Listening to social media “influencers” and other obscure entertainers for an hour was not as interesting, but I was patiently awaiting the return to the normal live format. Too bad that we won’t get that return. Best of luck to Ophira and Jonathan and everyone else involved in the show. I just hope that NPR doesn’t fill this spot with yet another show discussing politics and cultural differences. They have enough of those already.

  20. Not really a surprise. NPR management prefers shows which lecture and push the NPR agenda. NPR wants to be the WOKE “conscience” of America and has become the left-wing version of FOX News giving every story possible a racial or sex-based angle. Anything with entertainment value apparently waters down their mission. Fans of “WAIT, WAIT, DON”T TELL ME” should be concerned. That fantastic broadcast could well be next.

  21. I listen to this show weekly and have especially appreciated it during the pandemic. The hosts shared what was happening in their bubbles and somehow it always felt comforting. I will miss listening to the witty music remakes from Jonathan Coltan and Ophira’s quick wit. Sad to see it go!

  22. I absolutely love this show. Always made me laugh, looked forward to it every week. I haven’t missed an episode. I’m soooo sad to see it go. Truly.

  23. This is a fun and unique show. Enjoyed it even more during the past 16 months. I’m still missing on another public radio program – it’s only a game.

  24. I liked this show and had even subscribed at one time. It could be really funny/witty and was a great compliment to “Wait Wait”, but then it began to go on tangents that were sometimes just plain arrogant or insulting. I still tune in rarely on my local radio station but leave if/when it gets insulting/lecturing (or just skip over those parts if I listen online). Wait Wait also went the same way.

    My local station (WAMU) chases/chased younger listeners while using national content. So why listen to that staton? I can just pick and choose podcasts. They cut almost all of the locally produced shows (WAMU) even when they had been online for more than 30+ years. Now they brought that one show back, but the damage has been done. It’s very clearly not my station and I no longer donate money/buy products from them. NPR and PBS seem to have very focused ideas about entertainment now and I’m not sure what they want to be/who they think will listen to them.

  25. They should definitely move the show to Comedy Central. Ophira & Jonathan are a great team & I would absolutely watch!

  26. This is disappointing. An intelligent well crafted show with talented hosts. To be replaced by what? Narcissistic hosts who think they’re cute with boring and thin content. Ugh! Lame direction for NPR.

  27. This show saved my sanity during the pandemic. I was shocked to hear it’s canceled! And why? It’s one of the top podcasts in apple podcasts, so it makes no sense.. I really hope a podcast network picks it up.

  28. I’m 79 years old and love this show. So much for appealing to “younger audiences”. I’m sorry it’s going away.

  29. I will deeply miss this podcast and the rapport between these two warm, talented, and clever people. Being invited into their homes and lives over the course of the pandemic made a huge, positive difference for me and it was a treat to listen in every weekend. I hate this decision to drop the show. Count me in for what Ophira and Jonathan do next. I’m grateful for the many hours of amazing puzzles and joy they sent my way during a dark time.

  30. It does appear that the show has a lot of fans OR the fans are more likely to comment here…… I am not a fan, but no biggie, I just turn it off. As someone else said, it just seems to try too hard, for me, but misses the mark.

  31. AMA does seem to have many fans, but maybe not enough to provide needed financial support. I hope all of those who are disappointed with it’s demise were supporting it, financially.
    Don’t abandon NPR for discontinuing this show. Public media is struggling to stay relevant and to continue finding support for each and every show that people will come to. It’s possible that AMA could have found enough of its audience to sustain it if it had a longer tail, but, after a reasonably long run, the needed financial support didn’t materialize. Maybe a go fund me site would raise enough money/awareness to bring it back. Public media has a unique structure. You are given this service at no cost, then asked to help pay for it. If you like it, you should be willing to feed it.

  32. I was shocked to hear AMA was being cancelled. The show has become one of my favorites along with Wait Wait don’t tell me. I hope NPR may reconsider their decision.

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