On-campus fans who grew up with ‘Jeopardy!’ miss beloved host


Graphic by Joe Bermudez

The death of long-time “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek did more than cause a ripple in Hollywood. It left an emotional gap with the PNW community.

“’Jeopardy!’ has always been one of those shows that’s a staple part of the American household,” said Madeline Clement, a senior studying English literature. “I don’t think the show will ever be the same because the shadow of Alex Trebek will always be around, but I believe it should continue in honor of Trebek and the years he spent dedicated to it!”

Trebek died in his Los Angeles home on Nov. 8 due to complications related to pancreatic cancer. He hosted over 8,200 episodes of the game show. His health had been troubling for fans since Trebek first announced his cancer diagnosis 18 months ago.

I think Alex Trebek was such a great talent because he was truly kind to the contestants, and a kind person overall,” said Kayla Vasilko, a senior studying English writing. “He was committed to the show, and his positive attitude made the show uplifting and fun to watch.

“It always had the power to put you in a good mood,” she said. “Whoever hosts ‘Jeopardy!’ next should put the same emphasis on good, positive fun,” said Vasilko.

Mary Beth O’Connor, professor of broadcasting and advertising, said Trebek was a perfect fit for the popular daytime show.

“Alex had it all. He was intelligent, competent and fair,” she said. “Additionally, he was distinguished-looking and had a pleasant demeanor. He had amazing charisma and took complete control of his show.

“Bottom line: people trusted him,” she said. “I can’t imagine anyone replacing him. Those are some really big shoes to fill. His recent death deeply saddened me because he was such an important part of my childhood and a true television icon. I do not think ‘Jeopardy!’ will ever be the same.”

Trebek had fans all across PNW.

“Besides the fact that he had a great stage presence, Alex Trebek also had the great ability to make you feel like you were spending time with a friend,” said Jonathan Swartz, dean of the Honors College.  “I think it was his genuineness and sincerity as a human being that came across so well. I think everyone liked him because he seemed like a genuine person, not fake in any way.”

The show’s executive producers have said that a series of guest hosts will fill in for the foreseeable future. Ken Jennings, who holds the all-time record for most consecutive games won (74), will be first. Jennings is also the winner of the Greatest of All Time tournament, which took place at the beginning of 2020 and has been the recipient of a $1 million prize. However, Trebek taped several shows prior to his death and they will air in the coming weeks. Jennings will start hosting in January.

Jennings commented on filling Trebek’s shoes via Tweet.

“Alex wasn’t just the best ever at what he did,” he said. “He was also a lovely and deeply decent man, and I’m grateful for every minute I got to spend with him.”