The quiz show craze gets a Pittsburgh makeover Saturday with the premiere of KDKA's "Giant Eagle Hometown High Q," an academic challenge hosted by Channel 2 anchor Ken Rice.
"High Q" pits three school teams against one another, answering questions from a variety of general high school curriculum subject areas. The half-hour show was inspired by similar programs in other cities, including the long-running "It's Academic" in Washington, D.C.
Student game shows aren't new to Pittsburgh. In the 1970s, Ricki Wertz hosted "Junior High Quiz" on WTAE-TV.
The first episode of "High Q" airs Saturday at 10 a.m. (three episodes were taped this past Saturday). Nine competitions, three playoffs and a final match will be broadcast this television season. Another 40 episodes are expected to go into production for the 2000-2001 TV season beginning this fall.
Joe Faccenda, senior vice president of Giant Eagle marketing and merchandising, declined to say how much his company was spending to be the exclusive sponsor of "High Q," but KDKA general manager Gary Cozen said the program would not exist without Giant Eagle's support.
Cozen said he got the idea for "High Q" after watching "It's Academic" in Washington and said planning for the program predates the current game show fad sparked by "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," which launched last August.
"We hear all the time that there is a lot of focus given to athletics," Cozen said.
"We view this as the ideal opportunity to showcase the academic achievements of students in this community."
Cozen said KDKA received responses from 60 high schools in one week after sending out an invitation to schools to compete. Winning teams will receive Giant Eagle "Apples for the Students" points for their schools which can be applied toward the purchase of computer equipment. Many schools already have academic competition teams, so an infrastructure to provide "High Q" with competitors is already in place.
Though KDKA will produce the show, the station hired a company that creates questions for "It's Academic" to come up with questions for "High Q."
To make room for "High Q," the CBS kids' show "Anatole" will be taken off the KDKA schedule. "The Saturday Early Show" will air at 7 a.m., with local news at 9 a.m.