This local man will appear as a contestant on a classic quiz show on Wednesday night.
Answer: “Who is Phil Ricciardi?”
While traveling in Providence, RI on business, the independent management consultant from Upper Gwynedd was feeling “incredibly fortunate” that his third attempt to become a “Jeopardy” contestant led to flying to California in February to record an episode set to air at 7 p.m. June 14 on 6-ABC. By the way, he said, the network provides discounted hotel accommodations, but you’re responsible for your own air fare.
“The whole ‘Jeopardy’ experience is wonderful. The staff treats you like royalty. They rehearse you well. I felt calm, I felt focused — just the board, Alex (host Alex Trebek) and me,” said Ricciardi, who will be at a viewing party at his daughter’s house Wednesday.
When asked if there were any preparation secrets to navigating the several qualifying layers it takes to become a contestant, Ricciardi, who’s been watching the show since his childhood in the 1960s, replied: “For the most part, you either know it at this point in your life, or you don’t. You either have the pattern recognition or you don’t.” However, he said he did study the periodic table of elements to prepare for any chemistry related categories.
Getting the ball rolling last April with an online test, Ricciardi said he was notified in September that he qualified for an audition with 18 other qualifiers to play a simulated version of the quiz show.
According to Ricciardi, among the things you don’t see on TV:
• So that the audience can hear the complete question, the contestants cannot buzz in until they see a certain light flash. Buzzing in too soon locks you out for a quarter of a second. Yet, he said, the contestants are encouraged to rapid buzz four or five times to try to be first.
• Announcer Johnny Gilbert warms up the studio audience prior to the beginning of recording. Five episodes are recorded over the course of a day. “His speaking voice is exactly like his announcing voice,” Ricciardi said.
• Alex Trebek has notecards with four personal details about each contestant. However he’ll sometimes catch a contestant off guard by asking about something not highlighted on his cards. “Alex does whatever Alex wants to do,” said Ricciardi. “He can be a little snarky, actually.”
• When the credits are rolling at the end, Trebek is asking the contestants about their betting strategy and why they played the game the way they did.