Information, Please! turned traditional quiz programs on their heads by allowing the public to ask questions of a panel of experts, who would then provide the answers, or at least a reply that was entertaining, if not plausible. Listeners from across the country wrote in with questions on topics ranging from performing arts to natural history.
Information, Please! was one of the most popular shows in the Golden Age of radio. The show elevated intelligence and wit as cultural values and allowed everyday Americans to show their smarts. It went on the air just as the United States was emerging from the Great Depression, carried through World War II, and ended as the Golden Age of television began in the Eisenhower 50s.
In its heyday the show was a cultural icon — it attracted famous guests, was the subject of editorial cartoons and led to several books and quiz book card games designed for listeners to play the show at home. Information Please even had a brief run as a television show in the summer of 1952. The most successful spinoff from the radio show was the Information Please Almanac, an annual volume that first appeared in 1947 and is still published to this day.
The Host Clifton Fadiman was the perfect host. Book review editor of The New Yorker, he was widely read and widely respected. He was warm and witty, able to draw out the best in his guests, and able to sustain the show's tone of civilized intelligence.