Video Vault: Inside Academic Challenge 1981

Vintage WEWS April, 1981

CLEVELAND - Except for a four-year hiatus from 1999 to 2003, "Academic Challenge" has been on WEWS in one form or another since 1964.

A while back, the show's producer/director, Steve Kurrent, posted a story on the history of the show, including a listing of all the show’s emcees. Click here to see that story.

This edition of the Video Vault is not about the show but about the behind-the-scenes activities of the show.

Only a handful of "Academic Challenge" episodes pre-2003 exist and this behind-the-scenes look is extremely rare.

The date of the show’s taping is April 26, 1981. The teams competing are Bedford, Clear Fork and Crestwood.

We start behind the teams looking across Studio C at the studio crew and audience.

Pat Whitley warms up the audience and tutors those in the stands in the art of applause.

We get a glimpse of the crew and the show’s host Don Webster. Look closely in front of Don at the gray metal box housing the prehistoric scoring system.

Another look at the students and then Don greets the audience telling them, “…remember, no matter who wins, it’s only a game.”

A few more preps and off to the show we go.

The countdown slate shows the team names, the advertising agency, the air date and the director, Doug Yandala.

Yandala would leave WEWS for a long career directing at WJW.

The first round is underway with Clear Fork slightly ahead of Bedford and Crestwood 20 points behind Bedford. Don is shown the official scores via the very high-tech poster board.

Don introduces the alternates and the school advisors while the audience shows its appreciation…with a little help from Pat Whitley.


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