Students reflect on “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek’s legacy

After “Jeopardy!” producers confirmed longtime host Alex Trebek lost his battle with pancreatic cancer on Nov. 8, the Seton Hall community reflected on his lasting impact.

Trebek first revealed in March 2019 that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer and said that like many others with the disease, he did not experience any symptoms until it had spread throughout his body.

Regardless of his diagnosis, Trebek kept the show running. Hosting over 37 seasons and more than 8,200 episodes of “Jeopardy!”, he holds the record for the most shows by a presenter of any single TV game show. The consistency of his role as host earned Trebek five Daytime Emmy Awards.

Dr. Matthew Pressman, an assistant professor of journalism, appeared on “Jeopardy!” in June 2015 while in graduate school at Boston University. He won three games.

“One of the coolest things about being a ‘Jeopardy!’ contestant was getting to see Alex Trebek engage with the studio audience,” Pressman said. “During the commercial breaks, he would chat with them and answer questions. He was always charming and amusing, and he clearly loved it.” 

Beloved “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek passed away at 80 years old on Nov. 8 due to pancreatic cancer. Credit: Ars Technica

Airing every day around 6 or 7 p.m. on local networks, many Seton Hall students religiously watched “Jeopardy!” and familiarized themselves with Trebek over the years.

“After dinner, [my family] would all sit in the living room and watch it together and go through it as a family, and it bonded us together because we would all laugh at each other if we answered a question wrong,” Daniel Rodriguez, a freshman biology major, said.

Similarly, Kelsey Contreras, a freshman speech pathology major, reflected on her family’s love for “Jeopardy!”

“My nightly routine was eating dinner with my family at the dining room table, and then joining my brother and father on the couch to watch ‘Jeopardy!’,” Contreras said. “I loved how informational it was because I learned a new fact every episode.”

Contreras expanded on the impact of Trebek specifically. “He is a very classic host that I recognized every time I turned on the TV, and he made every guest feel welcomed and valued,” she said.

Contreras and Pressman said they noticed that no matter who they were, Trebek treated each contestant respectfully and made them feel like they were meant to be there.

“It was an amazing feeling to hear him compliment my performance on-air and to feel like I’d actually earned his respect,” Pressman said.

The students also commented on Trebek’s battle with pancreatic cancer.

“Pancreatic cancer is tough because it is hard to diagnose because, most of the time, the patients don’t see symptoms until it has progressed,” Rodriguez said. “Having cancer in such a late stage, but still continuing to film the show speaks a lot to Mr. Trebek’s character and showed how strong he really was and how much he loved what he did.”

Alyssa Bernhammer can be reached at alyssa.bernhammer@student.shu.edu.

Author: Staff Writer

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