CARL KASELL: From NPR and WBEZ-Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR News quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing his week with Mo Rocca, P.J. O'Rourke and Roxanne Roberts. And, here again is your host, at The Music Center at Strathmore, in North Bethesda, Peter Sagal.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Thank you, Carl.
SAGAL: Right now, it is for the WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-Wait-Wait to play our game on the air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!
KITTY RAY: Hi, this is Kitty Ray from Alexandria, Virginia.
SAGAL: Hey, that's not far from here.
RAY: I'm delighted to be on.
SAGAL: You should have come by. We miss you. How are you?
RAY: I tried, believe me.
SAGAL: Drive over. We'll wait.
RAY: Oh thanks.
MO ROCCA: Can I just say for a moment, as a Marylander, which I am, I was always jealous of Virginians because Maryland is for crabs but Virginia is for lovers.
ROCCA: And by the way, I know that the two are related...
SAGAL: Yes, I was about to say.
ROCCA: You go from Virginia to Maryland.
SAGAL: Kitty, welcome to the show. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction.
SAGAL: Carl, what is Kitty's topic?
KASELL: Will you accept this rose, Peter?
SAGAL: Reality shows get a bad rap for being a cesspool of American culture, full of sleazy meatheads looking out for number one. Well, they are. But think of the good they do. Our panelists are going to tell you three stories of reality shows actually doing something positive for the world. Guess that real story; you will win our prize, Carl's voice on your voicemail. Ready to go?
RAY: Fingers crossed, yeah.
SAGAL: Absolutely. Here is from Roxanne Roberts.
ROXANNE ROBERTS: Alarmed by the dropping birth rate in South Korea, government officials launched a new fertility program last year, based on "The Bachelor" and "Bachelorette."
The ABC reality show is wildly popular in the country. So singles ages 20 to 35 are encouraged to attend free government-sponsored workshops to teach them how to woo, win and marry in mere weeks. Men and women reenact the contestants' dress, body language, small talk and flirting techniques, including Kim Chi Jacuzzi dates, group pajama parties and rose ceremonies.
Quote, "At first they giggle a lot, but then they get into the bachelor mindset," health minister Song Gi Ho told Reuters. Unlike the real show, the workshops have produced 35 marriages plus plenty of hookups and 19 children so far. Quote, "Fake romance makes real babies," said Ho with a smile.
SAGAL: Dating shows, like "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" used to inspire real romance in South Korea.
SAGAL: Your next story of the benefits of reality TV comes from Mo Rocca.
ROCCA: It's called a drone for a reason. The unmanned spy plane, also known as the predator, captures footage that's 99.9 percent incredibly boring to watch.
ROCCA: Pity the poor human drones who have to sift through thousands of hours, waiting for something to happen. The risk that they could miss a moment that actually does matter is great, which is why the Air Force is summoning America's most eagle-eyed battle tested patriots, our reality show producers.
With more than 10,000 hours of footage accumulating each month, veteran producers of "Rock of Love," "Charm School," and "Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami" plus one producer decorated after several tours of duty with VH1's "For the Love of Ray J," are being consulted on how best to spot the quiet before the storm and techniques for watching hours of raw footage without burning out.
Quote, "you can't have someone staring at the empty 'Jersey Shore' living room for 24 hours a day," Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations says. "But when something crazy happens at 3 a.m., you want to be sure to spot it." Of course, as the report's authors acknowledge, there are plenty of differences between monitoring the killing of Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room and "The Situation's" room.
ROCCA: But it's equally important to remember what General Sherman once said: war is hell, but it's never quite as grisly as an episode of "The Real Housewives."
SAGAL: Reality show producers, used to looking at hours and hours of boring tape being enlisted to look at tape from predator drones. And your last story of the positive side to reality programming comes from P.J. O'Rourke.
P.J. O'ROURKE: The Catholic Church has given its blessing to reality TV. In fact, the church hierarchy and catholic theologians are encouraging screenings of reality TV programs at seminaries and convents and at religious retreats for catholic young people who are exploring the possibility of a vocation as priest, nun or monk.
Monsignor Francis Kierney, a Jesuit priest who heads the church's Commission for Propagation of the Faith has particular praise for "Keeping Up with the Kardashians," MTV's "Real World," "The Apprentice," "The Real Housewives" franchise and "Teen Moms." "These programs," says Father Kierney, "are very valuable for showing the true nature of materialism and sensuality. Men and women who have or will take vows of poverty and chastity get to see exactly how little they're missing."
O'ROURKE: "The result," says Father Kierney, "has been a 15 percent increase in seminary students and convent novitiates and a 12 percent decrease in people leaving the priesthood and religious orders."
SAGAL: All right then.
SAGAL: Here are your choices. Was it, from Roxanne Roberts, South Korea using dating shows like "The Bachelor" and "Bachelorette" to increase romance among real life young people? From Mo Rocca, reality TV producers being enlisted to look at boring hours of footage from spy drones? Or from P.J. O'Rourke, reality shows used to help convince novitiate monks, priests and nuns to give it all up and just spend the rest of their lives in celibacy?
RAY: Well, this is a hard choice. I think I'm going to have to go with Roxanne Roberts.
RAY: Yeah, I think so. I hope I'm right.
SAGAL: So your choice then is Roxanne's story...
SAGAL: ...about South Korea?
SAGAL: All right, well we spoke to someone who was familiar with the real story.
MARY MCCLELLAND: The military or the Air Force are trying to capture all the good drama and weed out the boring stuff.
SAGAL: That was Mary McClelland. She's a writer and reality TV expert for Momtastic's Reality Tea talking about reality TV producers. I warn people. I warn them again. Do not trust Roxanne.
SAGAL: Roxanne wants to fool you. Roxanne wants to go for the win. I'm sorry, as you now know it was in fact Mo who had the real story. Roxanne, although her idea is lovely...
SAGAL: But I just want to confirm something which might be of some comfort to you. Roxanne, do you feel even a little bit terrible?
ROBERTS: I do. I do feel a little terrible right now.
RAY: Me too.
SAGAL: So there you are. Well, thank you so much for playing, Kitty.
RAY: Thanks for having me. Take care.
RAY: All right, bye.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.