’Jeopardy!’: What Executive Producer Mike Richards Told Katie Couric to Ease Her Mind About Guest Hosting

by Emily Morgan
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After her two weeks behind the “Jeopardy!” podium as guest-host, Katie Couric is taking a moment to reflect on her experience. 

Despite being a veteran journalist with years of experience, Couric recently revealed she was quite nervous about taking the “Jeopardy!” stage. In an interview with Poynter, Couric confessed that one person helped alleviate any of her pre-taping jitters. 

“But right away they put me at ease. Mike Richards, the executive producer, said, ‘We are not going to let you look bad.’ And I instantly relaxed and I knew that they had my back and I could just go ahead and have fun,” Couric said.

If there’s one person who knows what it’s like to attempt to fill the shoes of the late Alex Trebek, it’s Mike Richards. For years he’s been the executive producer of the classic quiz show. After Ken Jennings ended his stint as interim guest host, Richards took command of the board after COVID-19 put a damper on getting celebrity guests to host. 

After Richards’ two-week run behind the lectern, he returned to working behind the camera. Now, instead of hosting, he’ll be running the show from behind-the-scenes and helping the other upcoming celebrity guest hosts prepare to take the stage. 

‘Jeopardy!’ Ratings Slip During Katie Couric’s Debut

“Jeopardy!” ratings dipped 5 percent in Couric’s debut week as guest host. The show finished in a first-place tie with “Wheel of Fortune” for the week. “Wheel of Fortune” was down 2 percent from the previous week in ratings. The show averaged nearly 200,000 more viewers than “Jeopardy!”

As the show continues to search for a permanent host, Couric also revealed that she has no interest in booking the gig full time. “It was a really fun thing to do,” she said. “[But] I love what I’m doing now. I have tremendous flexibility.” Despite having years of experience in front of the camera, Couric confessed that her “Jeopardy!” journey was “exhausting.” 

“It’s pretty exhausting to do five of those in one day — just to make sure you’re pronouncing everything correctly,” she said. “They give you these complicated Latin terms. My daughters would’ve really crushed it, but I don’t really speak Latin … I’ve always marveled at the contestants. But this really made me appreciate and respect the contestants more than I already did.”

Since stepping down as anchor from “The Today Show,” Couric has kept busy. She recently finished her memoir, Unexpected, set to be released this October. In addition, she’s running her own media company, website, and podcast. 

Outsider.com