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Our panelists tell three stories about the utility of music.

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From NPR and Chicago Public Radio, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR News quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing this week with Tom Bodett, Paula Poundstone and Luke Burbank. And here again is your host at the Paramount Theater in Seattle, Washington, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Carl.


SAGAL: Thank you so much everybody. Thank you. Right now it's time 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!

DENNIS KAVANAGH: Yes, Dennis Kavanagh in Sausalito, California.

SAGAL: Hey, Sausalito is totally beautiful. Let me ask you a question. Living in such a beautiful place, do you ever get tired of it?

KAVANAGH: No, no. The beautiful view on the water, we sail a lot and kayak, that type of thing.

SAGAL: Can you give me anything to make me feel better for not living there? Just anything, anything at all.

KAVANAGH: Just stay in Chicago.


SAGAL: Thanks a lot, Dennis.


SAGAL: Well, welcome to the show, Dennis. You're going to play the game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is Dennis' topic?

KASELL: Music, it's not just for listening anymore.

SAGAL: This week, we read a story that proves music has powers beyond sounding pretty. Our panelists are going to tell you three stories about songs being used for things other than setting the mood. Choose the true story, you'll win Carl's voice on your home answering machine. Ready to play?


SAGAL: First up, let's hear from Tom Bodett.

TOM BODETT: Coming back in your next life as a sewage- eating organism just got a little less terrible. German officials believe that playing Mozart to their treatment facility microbes helps the tiny organisms breakdown sewage more quickly. Piping in such classics as "The Magic Flute" and "The Marriage of Figaro" is putting shise eating grins on the faces of those little microbes and could save in the neighborhood of $1,200 a month on sludge disposal operations at their Treuenbrietzen treatment facility southwest of Berlin.

The scheme was developed by scientists at German firm Mundus, who say microbes are particularly partial to harmonies and rhythms. When combined with large quantities of oxygen, the sonic patterns stimulate activity and help to breakdown sludge more efficiently. No word if experiments with Boyz II Men are producing results or if it is true that the Vagner Trials resulted in the microbes attempting to invade Poland.



SAGAL: Music as a sewage treatment scheme in Germany. Your next story of music making the world go round comes from Paula Poundstone.

PAULA POUNDSTONE: In an attempt to capture the zeal of their youngest employees, McDonalds has created a pilot musical program to aid their food preparers. Instead of management asking workers to remove their headphones when they clock in, they ask them to plug in. As the order for each food is entered in the cash register, it triggers a rap song with step by step instruction on the food's preparation, and the cleanup as you go. There are such memorable lyrics as: Flip your patty on the grill and grab your dill pickle.


POUNDSTONE: And the toe tapping: Put on the top of your bun and now just for fun, wipe the sesame seeds or you'll be in the weeds. Management is very pleased with the results, but the employees less so. I used to like rap music, says 18-year-old Rondell J. Watley(ph). Now I'm going to start listening to folk or classical or some damn thing. Grab your patty, who's your daddy, what kind of crap is that?



SAGAL: Rap music being used to encourage employees at McDonalds to do things the right way. Your last story of thinking outside the music box comes from Luke Burbank.

LUKE BURBANK: Every long-term relationship has its ups and downs when it comes to, you know, mommy and daddy's special wrestle times.


BURBANK: But when you're two very expensive, very endangered pandas brought together specifically for the purpose of mating, someone's got to turn on your heart lights. That's just what the staff at the National Zoo in Washington did in the case of Tin Tin and Mai Sheng, two pandas who just couldn't seem to get in the mood for love. Enter the music of Mr. Peabo Bryson.


BURBANK: First we tried, "If Ever I'm in your Arms Again," said Nicole McCorkel(ph), head of the panda program at the zoo. But it was definitely, "Tonight, I Celebrate my Love" that did the trick, if you catch my drift.


BURBANK: It worked so well we were flooded with elementary school principals asking us to please turn off the zoo's webcam.


BURBANK: Sure enough, Mai Sheng gave birth three months ago to a bouncing baby cub the zoo has name Taishan but who everybody calls by his nickname Little Peabo.



SAGAL: All right, then. Dennis, here are your choices. From Tom Bodett, music being used to help process sewage at a plant in Germany. From Paula Poundstone, music being used in the form of raps to help McDonalds' employees know how to make a burger. And from Luke Burbank, music put two pandas in the mood at the National Zoo. Which of these is an unusual use of music?

KAVANAGH: I think number three. Number three. I saw the pandas one time and I think they needed music.

SAGAL: Really? They didn't look very romantic?

KAVANAGH: I'm right, right?

SAGAL: No, well I haven't said.


SAGAL: You want to get right by the chat and go right to the answer. All right, well your choice then is Luke's story. Well, we spoke to an NPR producer to bring us the truth.

ESME NICHOLSON: Playing Mozart operas to sewage to stimulate the breakdown of microbes has proven a breath of fresh air for the German Sewage Works, fiscally speaking at least.

SAGAL: That was Esme Nicholson, NPR's Berlin producer. So I'm sorry, you did not get it right, but you earned a point for Luke for his very good idea for any panda breeding.


SAGAL: Dennis, thank you so much for playing with us. Bye-bye. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.