‘Wheel of Fortune’: Pat Sajak Revealed the Moment CBS Called Him in About Failure of His Talk Show

by Will Shepard

Pat Sajak has been hosting Wheel of Fortune for 38 years now. Incidentally, this is the world record for the longest-running game show host.

When he took over the role of the game show host, his popularity skyrocketed. Within a couple of years, he was one of the most recognizable television show hosts in the world. There was virtually nowhere he could go without being recognized.

So, he decided to capitalize on this success. In doing so, he created his own talk show which aired on CBS. The show was called The Pat Sajak Show. The Wheel of Fortune host formatted it as a late-night talk show. Even though it was a brand new show, he was able to get a lot of well-known guests on.

He had people like Betty White, Buzz Aldrin, and Charlie Sheen on as guests. CBS was dumping money into the show because they believed that it was the next big hit. Time Magazine had labeled the Wheel of Fortune host as the next Johnny Carson.

Reportedly, Sajak was making around $60,000 per week. Additionally, the network gave him a two-year contract for the show.

Even though it was relatively early on in the show, the Wheel of Fortune host knew the show was not going to succeed. Despite Sajak’s popularity, the show began to struggle fairly quickly.

The “Wheel of Fortune” Host Knew the End of His Show was Coming Quickly

So, the host for Wheel of Fortune was brought into a room with several CBS executives. In short, they told Sajak that his show was a waste of time and money. They also showed him how badly his show was doing in all of the key demographics.

In an interview with the Observer in 2003, Sajak said: “Their opening line was ‘We’re in trouble.’ The head of CBS entertainment turned to me and said a line that I’ll never forget. He said: ‘Your audience doesn’t matter.'”

No matter who or what tells you that something doesn’t matter, that undoubtedly will sting. For the Wheel of Fortune host, he knew it was coming. However, Sajak never fully understood why the CBS executives canceled his show.

“I have nothing against CBS, but it’s odd: I never understood this until I saw Letterman’s issues,” Sajak recalled. “It may have changed, but I’m not sure CBS ever understood exactly what [talking] was. One of the first meetings I had was with Laurence Tisch, who was running CBS-he came in, and I was introduced, and he said to me, ‘Do you need a director for a show like this?’ And there’s a pause while you wonder, ‘Is he making a joke?'”

The Wheel of Fortune host remembers his time on The Pat Sajak Show in an interesting light. He clearly worked exceptionally hard on the show, but in the end, that didn’t matter. Moreover, it evident that he feels that the show never got an adequate chance to become something.

Nonetheless, The Pat Sajak Show stayed around for just over one year. Even though the show was canceled quickly, there were still 295 episodes made. Afterward, Sajak committed entirely to Wheel of Fortune.