An Ode to Alex Trebek
I’m going to miss Alex Trebek, I think we all are. He hosted more than 8,000 Jeopardy games, the most of any game show host. There are many theories as to the success of the show, though Alex’s own was that they did so well because they avoided conflict: “In this day and age, when there is so much societal tension, game shows are valuable because they’re pleasant,” he told New York magazine in 2018.
In a time when the truth or facts don’t always seem to matter, Jeopardy! and Alex provided certitude. There’s something so satisfying about being certain you’re right or wrong. This question and answer format has cemented its place in cultural history, and just like Mr. Trebek, is timeless. He was on air for more than 30 years, and filmed the final season while undergoing chemotherapy. An inspiration to us all on perseverance, consistency, and doing hard things.
What’s also notable, is that Alex did not like being called the star of Jeopardy!. Perhaps this is why they won more Emmy Awards — 35 — than any other game show. His emphasis was on the content and the contestants. The power was in trusting the format and allowing others to shine — even the viewers. Who hasn’t shouted answers at the TV in your own low stakes version of the game where the only audience to witness your genius (or lack of it) is whoever happens to be around? Being a “player,” on screen or off is fun and Alex shepherded all of us with so much grace.
Pointing to the power and longevity of Jeopardy! makes clients feel familiar with our new live trivia platform. We make it possible for people to step into Alex’s role, broadcasting their own versions of trivia for their companies. Once the camera is on and the game is live, the only thing standing in front of the host is the content and your audience. In this setting, we consistently turn to Alex’s gracious advice: “You have to set your ego aside . . . if you want to be a good host, you have to figure out a way to get the contestants to — as in the old television commercial about the military — ‘be all you can be.’”
When Jeopardy! was recognized with a Peabody award, it was given for “decades of consistently encouraging, celebrating, and rewarding knowledge.” That’s a north star we’re excited to rally around and work towards. Thank you for leading the way,; you’ll be missed Mr. Trebek.