’Jeopardy!’: Bill Whitaker Explains Why He Wanted to Guest Host the Show

by John Jamison

The way Bill Whitaker tells it, “Jeopardy!” is his favorite show. He and his wife play along at home on a nightly basis. That alone is reason enough to want to be the host. But not everyone who loves “Jeopardy!” necessarily wants to hop into Alex Trebek’s shoes. So what was it that really compelled Bill Whitaker to take the job?

Well, it’s pretty simple. Loving the show is a good starting point, but Whitaker thought it through more deeply than that. In his exclusive guest-hosting interview, he elaborated.

“To tell you the truth, I have always loved ‘Jeopardy!’ And when it came possible for me to be the host, I thought well, you know, there’s no other show I’d rather do,” Whitaker said. And there’s no show that would work with being a journalist that I could come in and actually have fun, and not walk away and go like ‘I just did X show.’ No, it’s ‘Jeopardy!’ I think “Jeopardy!” it will burnish my career.”

There you have it. The show is right up Whitaker’s alley. He’s a lifelong journalist with a background in history. If he couldn’t hack it as the host, he’d probably make for a strong contestant.

‘Jeopardy!’ Guest Host Remembers His Favorite Alex Trebek Moment

Listening to Bill Whitaker talk about his love for “Jeopardy!” tells you everything you need to know about why he’s taking a turn at the podium.

“‘Jeopardy!’ is my wife’s and my favorite show. Every night I’m home, we watch ‘Jeopardy!’ We try to answer the questions,” he said in the interview. “We have a little thing where we put it on pause and then we talk it over and see if we’ve got the right answer and we come back, and often we don’t. But we love it.”

For virtually all of those occasions with his wife, it would have been the one and only Alex Trebek hosting the show. And Whitaker recalls a time when they crossed paths. Or rather, when Alex Trebek crossed paths with the entire Hollywood Bowl.

Apparently, Bill and his wife were there to watch a show one night. They noticed Trebek walking through the aisle. Others at the venue noticed too, and they started murmuring things like, “Hey, is that Alex Trebek?” As more people took notice, the crowd started to applaud. One by one, people joined in, and before they knew it, a standing ovation was taking place. According to Whitaker, Trebek was warm and grateful to the crowd, even though he was just trying to be a normal person for the night.