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CONFESSIONS OF A GAME SHOW ADDICT

Bill
Employee
Employee
Ever since I was a kid, I have been addicted game shows. Growing up, on the days I wasn't in school, I watched them incessantly. Some were totally silly, but fun–remember "Match Game" with Gene Rayburn? It was absolute sex-laced trash, but it made a 14-year-old feel sooooo "hip" to laugh at the double entendres thrown out by Charles Nelson Reilley and Bret Somers. Then there were just plane goofy ones, like "Press Your Luck" (BIG BUCKS!!!! BIG BUCKS!!!! NOOOOOOO WHAMMIES!!!!) I particularly loved shows that tested the contestant's knowledge, like "Password" with Allen Ludden (and the hushed voice of the announcer when the word flashed up on the screen as he whispered –"the password is……[insert word here]") and "Concentration" with the venerable Hugh Downs (I still remember the sound those weird, scary puzzle pieces made when they flipped them around, and flipped them back). What I loved wasn't just the lure of instant riches, although that was pretty cool. I loved and admired the knowledge, the trivia, the imagination that game show contestants had to have to win. This is what started my passion for odd and obscure trivia, which endures to this day. I still play a mean game of Trivial Pursuit. :) Later, during college, I got hooked on "The $10,000 Pyramid" with Dick Clark. It got so bad that I actually scheduled classes around the show. By the time I graduated and was working for my first airline, two things had changed: one, the show had been promoted to "The $25,000 Pyramid," and two, I had the ability as an airline employee to travel to Los Angeles to audition. I began auditioning in 1983, and never got past the second callback for quite a while. However, in 1986, I did. And on a July evening of that year, my phone rang, and I was invited to be a contestant on the show. I nearly fell out of my chair. Our taping date was in about two weeks, and while I spent the next fourteen days feverishly watching episodes of the show that I'd videotaped and playing along, my former spouse spent her time looking for the new house we'd buy with the massive amount of money she was certain I'd win. The night before taping, my former spouse and I flew to Los Angeles, and the morning of the show we drove to CBS Studio City, where I was taken with the other contestants for that day's shows into the bowels of the studio. Three hours later, I walked out….a loser. I lost both rounds by a single point. In round one, with the word being "eraser" I got buzzed and lost a point for using part of the word (to this day, I maintain that I was stammering and saying "um, er" trying to think of a way to describe the pink end of a pencil!). In round two, the "star" somehow thought it was acceptable to try and get me to say "bra" by shouting out "A LADIES BRASSIERE!" (he obviously didn't understand the etymology of the word "bra"). I played fast. I played well. And I still lost. It was a loooooong, silent drive back to LAX, and an even longer, quieter flight back to DFW. Game shows have really evolved since then. Of course, we still have "Jeopardy!" (which I also auditioned for, once–the test they administer is akin to taking the S.A.T.) and, of course "Wheel Of Fortune," but while most game shows in the '60s, '70s and '80s were thirty-minute daytime events, game shows today have mostly become one-hour marathons aired during prime time. Today's contestants are all beautiful with perfect pearly-white teeth. And I still watch most all of them, when I can. "Deal, Or No Deal" is wonderfully watchable, although I always wonder if it's scripted. "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader" is just a hoot, mostly because I've always been redneck enough to like show host Jeff Foxworthy. And the "vote-off" game shows" like "American Idol" and "Survivor" are wonderful…if stressful! I've not auditioned for a show since 1986, but I think I may make yet another run at it. For example, I'd LOVE for the Blog Team here at "Nuts About Southwest!" to be part of the "mob" on "1 vs. 100" with Bob Saget. I mean, PEOPLE–how cool would that be? We might not win much, but it'd be fun to see how we'd fare playing against such diverse other mobsters as Victoria's Secret models, prison guards, and drag queens. And members of the mob keep playing until they lose–so eventually, maybe we could win at least enough for a nice celebratory dinner! The other show I would KILL to get on is "The Amazing Race." Gee…an airline geek, who has to maintain a working knowledge of geography, airports, and the schedules of airlines all over the world, on a round-the-world travel game? I smell a winner here. I would of course have my kid, Officer Owen, as my partner–he could do all the heavy lifting, physical challenges, and act as my personal bodyguard, while I'd do all the food challenges and handle the travel. Talk about having all of your bases covered! But that show requires a commitment of being away from home for weeks on end. As nice as John and Pete, Schedule Planning Bosses, and  Colleen and Gary are…I wouldn't want to, ahem, "press my luck." Who knows…maybe you'll see me on another game show. Or maybe not. It may be just as fun, and less stressful, to watch someone else sweat. Of course, that means someone else wins the money, too, so I'll keep mulling the option over in my mind. But in the meantime, if you see a repeat of "The $25,000 Pyramid" on the Game Show Network, think of me. And if you see a guy in one of the episodes that looks like a much younger, trimmer, and less gray version of me…change the channel. He didn't win.
12 Comments
Micah_Moughon1
Not applicable
Please fly to Knoxville, Tennessee (TYS)! In January 2008 Knoxville Airport's set an all time record in traffic numbers, despite skyrocketing airfares and a slowing economy. Knoxville's only low-fare airline, Allegiant Air, has consistently maintained a load factor greater than 80% since beginning service there in November 2006.
Leah4
Not applicable
I LUV Wheel of Fortune! In October 2005, the Wheel Mobile came on a Saturday afternoon & I went to see if I could get an audition. They didn't call me, unfortunately! :( I remember once a long time ago, when I was watching the show, I knew the puzzle & blurted it out; it was Electric Shock. Still, some of the puzzles I can solve quickly; others are harder. It's fun! Joke for the day: What animal likes to smell good? Cats, because they wear purrfume (perfume)! Ha, ha, ha. SWA LUV! 🙂
blusk
Not applicable
Bill I think we grew up in parallel universes because my earliest daytime television memories are of game shows, but I go back even further than you. Like Beat the Clock, and I remember seeing reruns of an Art Linkletter nighttime quiz show that featured trips to great locations on a United Airlines DC-7 Mainliner. When my family moved to Los Angeles in 1962, we eventually saw live tapings of Bob Barker in Truth or Consequences and Monty Hall in Let's Make a Deal--saw Carol Merril too! One of my all time favorite "game" shows was barely a game show--Chuck Barris' Gong Show. Ah, those were the good old days. Blog Boy
Kathi
Not applicable
Bill, You and I in the Amazing Race. We would be unbeatable! I love the crazy physical challenges. Unfortunately I don't think airlines Employees are permitted to race. My dream is Survivor, someday you will see me on the show. However, since you have to be gone so long, it might not be until I retire as I guess getting a LOA for a game show wouldn't go over very well! And according to my husband, retirement is not in my near future! 🙂 In the meantime, happy gaming!!!
katie-coldwell
Not applicable
I am right there with you on the Amazing Race -- but I think the contestants are kinda being wimpy--flying around with a confirmed airplane seat and all. Maybe we should suggest that the producers step it up a notch and have a whole season full of only airline Employees. Then we could nonrev around the world! I think that would totally add to the fun--and Bill--I'd sure give you a run for the money! 😃
Joe2
Not applicable
I like the idea for and airline employee only Amazing Race! That would be fun to watch :^) I say "press your luck" and try out! It would be an "amazing" once in a lifetime experience :^)
flyingphotog
Not applicable
I would also love to be an Amazing Race contestant! I love being able to predict which airlines they will fly between points and the hubs they will connect at. Bill, I'm sure you have seen this... when the contestants get on a plane like a China Airlines 747, then you see them supposedly landing at their destination on an Air France A320. Sometimes I have even seen footage of the wrong airport. I just have to sigh and roll my eyes. Or what about the final episode a few seasons ago when a plane was brought back to the gate so a team (Uchenna and Joyce?) could board? Give me a break! My best friend Shannon and I submitted an audition tape a few years ago. He's the son of a Continental Captain and I work for SWA. I think we would have been a competitive team! But we never got the call.
Bill
Employee
Employee
Brian, yes, we were raised in parallel, and similar, universes. My Mom wanted SO badly to get on "Let's Make A Deal" but she could never convince Daddy to spend a while day of vacation standing in line dressed like a pair of dice. :) Kathi, sweetie, I'd race around the planet with you in a heartbeat, but you are FAR to nice to be on "Survivor". Even Tina was meaner than you!!!! :) And all--okay, I think an all-Airline-Employee version of the Race would be a **HOOT**. I'm in--I'll even take the leave of absence! (Hello, Gary, Pete....can I? Please? ) --Bill
Deb21
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Very cute story, but I beg to differ that "todayÃ
FriendofBlogBoy
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Bill, Wow, I never realized that I knew a big-time TV celebrity! I just thought you were cool because you arranged the entire SWA flight schedule in your head. You know, one of the things I've never figured out about game shows is whether it is the pressure of being in front of a camera beaming your image to a few million people or the heat of the studio lights that turns people into helpless morons. We sit at home and watch "Wheel of Fortune" and can routinely guess the puzzle way before the contestants seem to be able to. I see things like M_RY H_D _ L_TTL_ L_MB and the person spins the wheel and says, "Uhhh, Pat, is there a Z?", and I'm yelling at the TV, "NOOOO, it says Mary Had a Little Lamb, can't you see that???!!" Maybe it is just the realization that if they win all that money that the IRS is going to take a huge chunk anyway, so why bother. But now that I know someone who has been under those hot lights, I'll try to be more compassionate in my assessment of their mental skills. Kim Ex_er_al Blo_ Bo_ 🙂
Leah3
Not applicable
I'm the same way, EBB! I'll solve a puzzle before a contestant does & think, "Does s/he really not know it, or does s/he want more money?" Sometimes on the show, there's a contestant who's a flight attendant! :) S_U_ _HW_ _ _ A_ RL _ N_ S Memory for the day: When I was in 3rd grade, I made an Easter card at school that said, "Go to the park, hide the eggs & say, 'Hark! I found an egg!' " Oh, my! I laugh at that. SWA LUV! 🙂
Michael_Todd_Co
Not applicable
Bill! I'm a little late to the party here, but I have to say I really enjoyed the article. I was a huge fan of "Press Your Luck" reruns growing up. If you have a second, check out an online game show I exec. produced: http://redcarpetrun.tv -- would love the opinion of a bona fide addict! Michael