If you haven’t been paying close attention, a rotating series of “Guest Hosts” has been cycling through Jeopardy since the passing of Alex Trebek.
Among those who have appeared in the role made iconic by Trebek have been Katie Couric, Bill Whitaker, Savannah Guthrie, Sanjay Gupta, Anderson Cooper, Aaron Rodgers, Mehmet Oz, and Mayim Bialik. Most of them were known to be short-term “guest” hosts to fill in while production continued in the months following Trebek’s passing.
But now it appears that a legitimate candidate to replace Trebek is about to debut for a run of episodes during the summertime in what appears to be an extended audition to take over the job — St. Louis Cardinal and Fox Sports NFL/MLB play-by-play announcer Joe Buck.
Buck, 51, has spent his entire adult life behind a broadcast microphone doing live sporting events. He’s the son of legendary St. Louis Cardinal radio and television announcer Jack Buck, and Joe joined his father in the Cardinal’s broadcast booth as early as 1991 when he was only 21. He would often substitute for his father with the Cardinals when Jack Buck was doing national broadcasts for CBS Sports.
A long long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, I did audition to be a contestant on Jeopardy. At the time all you had to do was show up, stand in a line, and take a test of general trivia of about 40 questions. If you scored high enough on the test then you went through an interview with the producers in order to be selected to appear on the show. I made it past the written test, but was not selected to appear on the show — my rough estimate would be that getting picked to appear was about 50-50, with much depending on how many people passed the written test given that there were only a limited number of spots for contestants to appear on the show. But you were told five shows were taped each day, and depending on if you won, you could be on the lot taping for two days — this was back in the day when winners were limited to five shows only. I recall that there were only two taping sessions each week, and the testing and interviews were done the day before the first day of taping.
In doing a bit of research for this story, I found a reference to the fact that in his last contract, Trebek was committed to 46 taping sessions each year — which seems about right if they were still taping five episodes each day. Even though Jeopardy is a year-round broadcast, it seems like it would not be difficult for Buck to fit the taping schedule into his NFL and MLB broadcasting duties.
There is no question that Buck has pursued a great number of projects in the television business in addition to his work for Fox Sports. He has done a sports-oriented interview program for HBO called “Joe Buck Live.”
He filmed a pilot for a prospective late-night talk show program with Molly Shannon and David Spade from Saturday Night Live as his guests, along with then up-and-coming actor Paul Rudd.
He has made numerous appearances on television programs as himself.
He’s a seven-time winner of a Sports Emmy Award, six times as a broadcaster and once as an interview show host.
Buck is an energetic guy with an engaging personality. Assuming the audition goes well, he’s the type of “pro” in the television business who could likely step into Trebek’s role and live up to the standard.