#atozchallenge: Sajak

Pat Sajak. Public domain.

A dinnertime tradition in the United States is watching two syndicated game shows that were created by Merv Griffin. Wheel of Fortune is a game based on the children’s game Hangman, where players solve puzzles by guessing the letters in it, while Jeopardy!, which I discussed during the 2014 A to Z Challenge, is a show where the questions are the answers and the answers are the questions.

The host of Wheel is Pat Sajak, who grew up in Chicago and graduated from Farragut High School (also the alma mater of actress Kim Novak). While he was in high school, he won a "High School DJ" contest sponsored by WLS radio and disk jockey Dick Biondi. Bitten by the radio bug, he attended Columbia College of Chicago as a communications major. One of his teachers there, veteran Chicago radio and TV announcer, recommended him for a position at radio station WEDC, where Pat was the overnight disk jockey.

Pat enlisted in the Army in 1968 and was sent to Vietnam, where he replaced Adrian Cronauer on Armed Forces Radio (continuing the tradition of opening the show with "good morning, Vietnam!"). Upon leaving the Army, he was employed first by a radio station in Murray, Kentucky, moving from there to country music giant WSM in Nashville, Tennessee, which did pop music in the afternoons. He was hired by WSMV, WSM’s sister TV station, as a staff announcer, newsreader during the local breaks on NBC’s Today program, and as a weekend and replacement weatherman. He was then recruited by KNBC-TV in Los Angeles as a fulltime weather reporter.

Merv Griffin noticed Pat when he was trying to replace Chuck Woolery as the host of Wheel, which was at the time running on NBC during the day. NBC CEO Fred Silverman nixed the idea, so Griffin slowed down the production schedule until Silverman relented. Silverman was terminated from his position at NBC, replaced by Brandon Tartikoff. Pat hosted both the daytime show until 1989, and the syndicated show from the beginning.

Pat is teamed with the lovely Vanna White on Wheel. She’s a former model and Miss Georgia USA contestant. Her job is to reveal the letters within puzzles as they are guessed and to clap for the contestants.

Vanna White. Public Domain.

Last season, Pat became ill and Vanna replaced him for several weeks while he recuperated. Replacing Vanna was Pat’s daughter Maggie, a budding country singer.

Recently, Pat and Vanna were extended through the 2024 season. It speaks to the success of the show and the hosts.

See you Monday with another musical A to Z!

18 thoughts on “#atozchallenge: Sajak

  1. We made “Vanna” a verb……”to look good while making something so easy seem complicated and graceful” “I’m going Vanna that glass of milk to the table!” ZD


  2. These 2 are solid in their careers and hopefully never go away. Who knew she could make a career out of wearing a different dress every day and turn the boxes around..well back in the day now she just touches them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s hosted by two of the most-likable people on TV, and the show itself has been on for almost 50 years. The rules are simple and it’s suitable fot kids as well as for adults.There isn’t much you can say that about.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post,John! I knew a little about Pat Sajak but thought he was strictly a former weatherman. I knew nothing about his other accomplishments, including that bit about “Good morning, Vietnam!” 🤯


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