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Bluff The Listener

BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR News quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We are playing this week with Alonzo Bodden, Aida Rodriguez and Adam Felber. And here again is your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Bill. Thanks, everybody.


SAGAL: Right now, it is time for the WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME Bluff the Listener game. If you'd like to play, call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT.

Hi, you are on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

GREG POLITE: Hi, this is Greg Polite of Cumberland, R.I.

SAGAL: I'm sorry. Did you say your name was Greg Polite?

POLITE: That is correct.

SAGAL: Doesn't that put a certain limitation on you in the way that you can interact socially?

POLITE: Well, I can tell you that some days are better than others.

SAGAL: Yeah, I understand.


SAGAL: Well, we'll test it out. Welcome to the show. Great to have you. You're going to play the game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. What is Mr. Polite's topic, Bill?

KURTIS: Pod Save America.

SAGAL: Podcasts don't do a lot of good in the world, although they have provided jobs for over 5,000 Guy Razzes (ph). This week we heard the story of a way podcasts are actually helping someone. Our panelists are going to tell you about it. Pick the one who's telling the truth, and you'll win our prize, the WAIT WAIT-er of your choice on your voicemail. Are you ready to play?

POLITE: I am indeed.

SAGAL: All right. Let's first hear from Alonzo Bodden.

ALONZO BODDEN: Brothers Matt, Marcus and Monroe were each adopted by different families. They knew they were adopted, but they didn't know they had brothers. They may have never known were it not for the podcast, "Pit Bull Rescue." "Pit Bull Rescue" shares stories of pit bulls being rescued from owners who can't handle them. Podcast host Tony Ableman (ph) says pit bulls have a terrible reputation but can be great pets. Marcus Braggs heard the podcast, was moved by the stories of dogs who were unwanted, as he had been, and decided to adopt a pit bull himself from a shelter in Chicago. And he bought the pit a pink collar. He's a sweetheart. It seemed right. I don't know why, he said.

It seems his brothers, Matt in Boise and Monroe in Fresno, heard the same podcast and were similarly touched. Each of them adopted pit bulls because they, too, felt unwanted. And each of them, for reasons they couldn't quite explain, bought their pits pink, fuzzy collars. All three men sent photos of themselves and their new dogs to Tony Ableman, the host of "Pit Bull Rescue." And he said people do that all the time. But three men who look alike each accessorizing their pits in pink? That doesn't happen.

Tony mentioned the strange coincidence on his podcast. So each of the brothers got in touch, and Tony connected them to each other and hosted them on his show. Now listeners agree there's never been an episode like the Pink Pit Pal Party. Meanwhile, geneticists are trying to figure out what inherited trait makes a person want to put their pit bull in pink.


SAGAL: The "Pit Bull Rescue" podcast reunites three separated brothers. Your next story of a podcast saving the world comes from Aida Rodriguez.

AIDA RODRIGUEZ: Kelly Manly (ph) had a problem. The Timonium, Md. resident had planted 300 bulbs in her yard hoping for a wonderful display in the spring. And almost as soon as they were in the ground, squirrels were digging them up. She tried everything - mulch, plastic sheeting, even waiting behind cover and throwing rocks at them. The squirrels ran away laughing, usually with a bulb in their mouth.

Then one day, as she was helplessly watching the squirrels wreak havoc, her Bluetooth headphones gave out, and the Joe Rogan podcast started playing through her phone's speakers. The squirrels instantly scattered. She turned it off, waited until they returned, turned it on again. Once again, squirrel panic. I had no idea Joe Rogan had such an effect on pests and vermin.


RODRIGUEZ: She now has a speaker set up in her garden playing Joe Rogan 24/7. And the squirrels are gone. They really hate it, she says, especially the one where he gets stoned with Elon Musk.


SAGAL: The Joe Rogan podcast turns out to be good at keeping squirrels away from a woman's garden in Maryland. And your last story of the world's most self-indulgent medium finally indulging others comes from Adam Felber.

ADAM FELBER: If you've ever explored the world of podcasts, you know that when you download one for the first time, you're almost guaranteed to hear two things. One, of course, is smug self-indulgence. But two is ads for mattresses, which seems like a sound reasoning on the part of the mattress industry, as in if they're listening to this, they must have trouble sleeping.

But according to this week's Wall Street Journal, thanks to the new plethora of mattress delivery companies and their incredibly generous return policies, a new beast has appeared among podcast listeners, the never-ending free-trial sleeper. Yes, by stringing together all those hundred-day trial periods and returning the mattresses right before the deadline, enterprising millennials have figured out how to sleep on the cheap. For instance, take Karen Bier (ph), a 31-year-old software architect. He says he managed to test-drive five free matches over a 15-month period. After, he said, he realized, quote, "you could literally do this and never pay for a mattress." And to paraphrase Jeff Goldblum in "Jurassic Park," he was so preoccupied with whether or not he could, he never stopped to ask himself if he should.

Mr. Bier is not alone in this pursuit. Hopping from bed to bed is a thing again, but not in the fun way it used to be. But someone out there is paying for these mattresses. For the past three years, online mattress companies have been springing up at a rate of 50 per year. And anyone who's ever spent time with an actual mattress salesman can tell you why. And to be fair to the schemers, taking advantage of a free trial period is not a crime. If you want to go to jail over a mattress, you're going to have to do it the old-fashioned way, by cutting off the tag.

SAGAL: All right.


SAGAL: So a podcast or podcasts did someone or someones some good. Was it from Alonzo Bodden, how a pit rescue podcast reunited three brothers who had never known each other but all had the same enthusiasm for pink, fuzzy collars, from Aida Rodriguez, a woman who was able to save her garden by scaring away the squirrels with the Joe Rogan podcast, or from Adam Felber, scores of people who figured out a way to get a free bed forever by just using those free mattress trial periods offered on so many podcasts? Which of these is the real story that we found in the news?

POLITE: Well, they all seem plausible, but I'm gonna go with Adam.

SAGAL: You're going to go with Adam's story about people getting free mattresses?



SAGAL: All right. Well, to bring you the correct answer, we spoke to someone connected with the real story.

AARON BATA: People who gamed the system a little bit by turning in their mattresses, getting a refund, and then changing to a different one.


SAGAL: There you go. That was Aaron Bata. He's the head of customer experience at Tuft & Needle Mattress Company, talking about all those mattress trial superstars. Congratulations, Greg. You got it right. Adam was telling the truth. You've earned a point for him. And you've earned our prize, the voice of anyone you might choose on your voicemail. Well done, sir.


POLITE: Thank you.

SAGAL: Bye-bye. Thanks a lot.

POLITE: Bye now.


THE TURTLES: (Singing) Sound asleep, spending my time on a dream that I'm about to see come true. Sound asleep, keeping my mind on you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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