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  • Julia Cook, UCTech

What is― next?: Jeopardy! with Alex Trebek and Future Ahead

Anyone can recognize the iconic theme song to Jeopardy! You may have caught yourself humming the melody while you’re waiting for something to happen or while you're watching the show itself. Jeopardy! is one of the longest running quiz shows you can still watch regularly on cable and has been hosted for decades by Canadian-born Alex Trebek, famous for his captivating host personality and his knack for giving and answering questions so well.

Before he died on November 8, 2020, Trebek was a lively man who was hosting and reporting even before Jeopardy!. He started his career working for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and hosted his first game show in 1973 called Wizard of Odds. On Jeopardy!, Trebek was recognised as a friendly host, one who truly enjoyed his job. Few fans and even occasional watchers can picture any other host. Contestants especially showed their appreciation towards Trebek, like writing short sentiments on their tablets while on-air and making joyful small talk with the host between breaks.

While alive, Trebek delighted in travel, and kept himself sharp to keep up with the genius display he was hosting. When he was first offered to host Jeopardy! in 1983, executives considered having the game run with simpler questions, similar to previous television quiz game shows. They felt that doing so would give the program more mainstream appeal, thus leading to a larger profit. However, Jeopardy! was similar to a very popular board game of the time, Trivial Pursuit. This board game proved that watching unnaturally smart people answer trivia questions in varying categories, while betting high financial stakes was arresting to an audience.

Jeopardy! airs Monday through Friday before to Wheel of Fortune― a schedule that lots of viewers consider a package deal. As more people began to know and love the show, Alex Trebek, consequently, also received love and support. Without his hosting, Jeopardy! might not have accumulated all of the dedicated viewers and awards. As the show aged, so did Trebek, though he still maintained his young energy. He was a seemingly healthy and happy man, until he revealed himself to be battling a rare pancreatic cancer in March of 2019.

Trebek's pancreatic cancer at the time when he chose to make his diagnosis public was at stage four, meaning that the cancer was already spreading to other organs. A relentless disease, pancreatic cancer in its most difficult stage is very troublesome to treat. In Trebek’s public announcement, he acknowledged that he would have to put up a good fight against it to survive, a saddening but hopeful statement for others. He was given undying support and prayers from his followers, and his resilience made him that much more of a legend. Already, Trebek was raising money for Pancreatic Cancer research, and by the time it was uncovered he was stricken with the disease, his family, friends, coworkers, and former contestants had created “Team Alex,” a fundraising branch under the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Well known contestants like James Holhauser enjoined his fans in collecting donations for Team Alex and other important research foundations. Even after his public disclosure, Trebek was still active in spreading word of important topics and other matters in 2020. Though still ill himself, He released a book and took to educating people on Covid-19.

Sadly on November 8, Alex Trebek passed away. Even though his time may be over, Trebek made his mark on society, and got the best out of his inspiring life. His last week of episodes were set to play over the holiday break, but were then broadcasted January 4 to 8.

Many old contestants were asked to take up hosting, like record holder Ken Jennings, who will be the first of others to host the next Jeopardy episodes. Jennings and others offered were very hesitant. Having their own mark on Trebek’s show made them very respectful of him and his fight, and some couldn’t imagine filling in his place. Ken Jennings made sure to commemorate him, using the sendoff phrase “Thanks, Alex” to conclude an episode, and wore a purple ribbon as a nod to pancreatic cancer awareness and research. The executive producer Mike Richards, who will also be a guest host, promises to continue to keep Jeopardy! consistent with the show Trebek built. In the end, it's not exactly spelled out how Jeopardy! will look in the future, but it’s not going anywhere, for Alex Trebek’s sake.

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