National Public Radio stations from across the country broadcast Pomona College trivia Mar. 6, as part of the game show Says You!
Two hour-long shows were taped at Bridges Auditorium on the Saturday of Parents’ Weekend, Feb. 13. The first show aired last weekend, and the second will air this weekend.
The first show opened with music by Men’s Blue and White, and this weekend’s show will feature the Claremont Shades. Host Richard Sher then introduced the show’s panelists—Tony Kahn, Francince Achbar, and Barry Nolan on one team, and Arnie Reisman, Carolyn Faye Fox, and Paula Lyons on the other.
Sher plunged into the first round, which celebrated Family Weekend by asking trivia questions about phrases with familial terms, such as “prodigal son,” “sistering a beam,” and “kissing cousins.”
The second round was a bluffing round, in which two contestants on a team made up a definition for an obscure word—“louster”—while the third member was given the real definition. The other team then had to guess which description was genuine.
Sher then asked questions related to “common horse sense,” honoring the dedication of the Claremont Colleges Equestrian Club, which ushered the event to raise money. Associate Dean of Students and Smith Campus Center Director Neil Gerard said Sher asked him specifically about ushers over the phone before coming to Pomona. Gerard thought the exchange unnecessary, but Sher disagreed, and used the information to come up with pertinent questions for the show.
Another bluffing round followed, this time with the word “ballicatter.”
Finally, Sher shifted into questions about Pomona trivia. Oldenborg’s labyrinthine corridors, the panelists discovered, were the inspiration for “the Borg” on Star Trek. The sagehen’s bizarre defense strategy was discussed, as well as the number 47, Ski Beach Day, and the goddess Pomona. The show concluded with a question about Pomona’s success in the General Electric College Bowl in 1961.
Students said they found the experience of watching the taping underwhelming.
“Says You! reeled us in with the expectation of audience participation and the engaging wit typical of NPR programming, yet ultimately forced us to sit through a few boring hours of bad comedy,” said Zak Feldman PO ‘11. “It soon became clear that our only function was ‘laugh track,’ as the MC explicitly stated.”
Michael O’Shea PO ‘11 said he enjoyed the Men’s Blue and White performances, but that the rest of the taping failed to capture his attention.
“Says You! is all right, but seems to cater to middle-class educated baby-boomers, as reflected in the panel’s makeup,” he said. “In this respect, it was appropriate for parents’ weekend, but wasn’t very entertaining for students.”
Gerard initiated the process that brought Sher and the group of Says You! panelists to Pomona.
“I made a phone call…to see about getting an NPR show taped here,” he said.
Gerard got in touch with KVCR station manager Duncan Lively, who told Gerard he had known Sher for years and thought he might be interested.
As it turned out, Sher knew of Pomona College and was enthusiastic about the idea.
“The key was in the last question of the show,” Gerard said, referring to the piece of trivia about Pomona’s five-game wining streak in the College Bowl.
During his own college years, Sher had been on the Dickinson College Bowl team.
“That’s how he knew Pomona College,” Gerard said.
The taping drew an audience of more than 1,100 students, parents, faculty, staff and community members. 500 tickets for the show were sold through the Says You!website, roughly 100 during Family Weekend, and between 100 and 200 generally to students and faculty through the ASPC office. An additional 410 were sold at a KVCR promotional event, some of which were $75 tickets that provided reserve seating at the front of the auditorium and admission to a “Meet and Greet” with the panelists.The money generated by the Family Weekend and ASPC sales went toward theater expenses and transportation for the panelists.
Gerard also hosted the group for lunch before the show began.
“They’re nice people, they’re fun. It’s clear that they’re very good friends,” he said.
He said they, like many visitors to the campus, were enthusiastic about the warm climate, having come from the bitter winter weather of Boston, where the show is based.
Gerard said when he heard the first show air he was “really excited.”
“The first show was the Pomona show…it was all about us,” he said. “I thought we represented ourselves really well.”
Gerard said he hopes to bring another NPR show to Bridges Auditorium in the future.