By his own words, the late, great Jeopardy! host‘s destiny in showbusiness was written in the stars. Or more aptly: in radio.
No show does it like Jeopardy! – and no one’s ever done it like Alex Trebek. The icon, who left us in November of 2020, became synonymous with “America’s Favorite Quiz Show” and the intellectual element of world-class pop culture.
For almost 40 years, Trebek would host the celebrated game show, which has won more awards than any other game show in history. He, too, would receive more nominations for hosting than any other game show host in his lifetime.
While celebrating Jeopardy!’s 35-year mark in February 2019, Trebek was interviewed by the one man he himself deemed “the best Celebrity Jeopardy! contestant of all time”: Michael McKean.
Within, the two showbiz friends discuss everything Jeopardy! for 92nd Street Y’s interview series. Perhaps most interestingly, however, is Alex Trebek’s answer as to why he wanted to be in said showbusiness in the first place.
“Did you listen to radio at all when you were a teenager?” McKean broaches the subject.
“As you mentioned in your introduction, I grew up in Sudbury in norther Ontario,” Trebek answers. “And for some reason – I don’t know why – I had a little tabletop Philco radio!”
“Which, on good nights,” the late Jeopardy! host smiles, “would pick up WBZ Boston… or WBZA Springfield. So I used to listen to all of the great shows!” he reveals.
‘Jeopardy!’s Alex Trebek Grew Up on ‘Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis’
So what iconic radio programming could a young Alex pick up on his little Philco in Ontario?
“The Great Gildersleeve. Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Fibber McGee and Molly!” Trebek lists with a grin. “Autolite Presents… Suspense!” he adds, as if the show went off air the day before. “And Lux Radio Theatre! I listened to all of that!”
Through these iconic radio programs, Trebek says he “fell in love with Hollywood, and with showbusiness.” And we all know how that wound up for the prolific host!
“Oh, the stuff we used to listen to…” he laughs.
After the late icon and friend Michael McKean reminisce on “old radio shows,” the pair move onto the advent of television. Trebek didn’t know it as a child, of course, but the breakout medium would change his life forever. And in turn, he would change how game shows were and are perceived in said medium forever.
For much, much more from the beloved late Jeopardy! host, check out the full sit-down with Michael McKean below. It’s a wonderful watch for any fan of Alex Trebek. And really, who isn’t?
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