The team behind Says You, the long-running public radio game show, will end production of new episodes this month but will continue to make past programs available to stations.
The decision comes after the pandemic temporarily ended production of new episodes. Pipit & Finch, Says You‘s independent production company, put together new episodes via Zoom and repackaged previous 30-minute shows into hourlong episodes.
Since its debut in 1996, Says You has featured two teams competing to solve challenging word games. Recurring categories include “What’s the Difference,” which challenges panelists to define two words that sound similar.
Says You has been recorded before a live audience for much of its time on public radio and survived primarily on revenue from ticket sales, said EP Laura Sher. Earlier this year, “it felt as though the curtain had lifted a little bit and maybe we could get on to theaters,” Sher said. But theaters “have been one of the slowest and tightest to come back,” she said. “Even when events are outside with all of the protocols, it is tough.”
This summer, Sher began making plans to “sunset” the show. She was calling PDs and was “getting ready to nail everything shut and put it away safely,” she said. But when NPR announced the end of Ask Me Another, also a weekend show featuring games, she began getting “unsolicited calls” from stations asking to keep the show going with previous episodes.
“I really said my goodbyes to every single station. I did not expect to be going back and knocking on their door again and saying, ‘Oh, wait a minute, just before we leave, there’s a second option now,’” Sher said. “But that request came to me from so many of them. I think a lot of stations need extra time to reimagine what they’re going to do with weekend lineups.”
When the current season concludes at the end of September, the show will begin a new season of reaired episodes from seasons eight, nine and 10, which were recorded in the early 2000s. Season eight was Says You’s first as an independently produced show, according to Sher. The seasons are “when I think that they were at the top of their game,” Sher said.
Richard Sher, the show’s creator and former host who died in 2015, made sure the content “remained evergreen,” according to Laura Sher. Pipit & Finch has offered some archived episodes for sale, but not the episodes airing in the upcoming season, Sher said. They also haven’t been available on the Says You podcast, but each has been reaired at least once, she said. “It will not sound like repeats,” Sher said.
After those episodes air, Sher will check with stations to gauge interest in continuing to air the show. “I presume that there will be some stations that do want to carry Says You for a number of years to come, which is very easy to do,” she said.
About half of the 86 stations carrying Says You will stop airing it this month, but some stations are picking it up, Sher said.
“We treasure every single day of the 25 years that we had in public radio,” Sher said. “It has been a dream that no one could imagine.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said that PRX distributes Says You. While the show is available on the PRX Exchange distribution marketplace, PRX does not distribute the show. In addition, due to an editing error, a panel in the accompanying photograph was misidentified. The panelist is Carolyn Faye Fox, not Erin McKean.