This perpetually trying year has scrambled a lot of traditions for everyone. Usually, my beloved college radio alma mater stages its biggest fundraiser — which happens to also be one of the biggest community events of the year — every April. For obvious reasons, plans changed. The event was rescheduled for October and, when the public health emergency showed no sign of abating, was significantly reconfigured. And so, this coming weekend, I’ll participate in The World’s Largest Trivia ContestTM. As we do around these here digital parts, this week is filled with idle reminiscing about memorable answers in past years.
90FM-WWSP’s Trivia gets underway at 6:00 p.m. of Friday of its scheduled weekend, but the hunt for answers always starts a few days earlier. When a team registers for the content, they’re given a rulebook that has a couple dozen pictures scattered through its page. They’re all in black in white, sometimes a little blurry, and ruthlessly stripped of context. We don’t know what will be asked about these images, but the need to figure out what they are is clear. A handful of elite teams determine the origin of every one of them before the first question is read, but my crew is always short a few. And a week of fruitlessly panning for information gold in digital streams has left us bleary.
Last year, the picture that arguably caused us the most dismay was a graphic rendering of a bird in flight. Part of the frustration stemmed from the fact that we couldn’t even figure out what the source might be. Was it from a print ad or a product’s packaging? Was it a symbol on a board game or maybe a record label? Given the places these images were usually drawn from, we could make an educated guess as it what it might be, but we never tracked down the image. When the contest was reaching it final hours, my team was in content for a trophy. This requires a finish in the top ten, out of hundreds of teams, and every point was precious.
The question was asked, and the phrasing necessary to provide context for answering gave us one more clue: “What is the name of the board game on which it was found?” We’d gone down that avenue previously with no luck, but now there was certainty. The contest gives teams the length of two songs to answer a question, and in the midst of the second one, someone finally made announced that they thought they had it. They were right. Hours of combined effort in the prior week left us empty-handed, but then, thanks in large part to one more piece of information, we had it in a few minutes. The whole week before, it never would have occurred to me that the answer could be as mundane as “backgammon.”
More info about 90FM’s Trivia can be found at its official website or at the radio station’s online home. There’s also a feature documentary about the contest, but it’s fairly hard to come by these days. To see how my team is faring over the weekend, Twitter is probably the best bet.