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  • Writer's pictureRochelle Gridley

WJBC Quizdown

In 1947 WJBC and the Pantagraph created a radio quiz show for grade school students from fourth through sixth grade. It was called Quizdown and was recorded in the auditorium of Bloomington High School. The host was Bob Edell and the Quizmaster was Paul Liggitt, two regular radio personalities on WJBC. Before the first broadcast the audience was treated to a hillbilly band performance and community sing.

The questions used in the quiz show were all created by the children of Central Illinois and included such questions as: "Where do we get wool?" or "What city is known for its canals?" As each question was announced the name of the student who sent the question was announced and they received a special Quizdown pencil made by the Alexander Manufacturing Co., a local manufacturer of pens and pencils. The sixth graders had to ask more complex questions, like: "What European country has no seacoast but has four great rivers?"

450 children attended the first Quizdown program at BHS. It must have been so exciting for those children -- they were in the high school and they were watching a radio show!

Towanda and Bent School were the first schools to compete. When Ronald Shoel of Towanda was given the first question "How do you spell America?" he was only able to get out the letter "A" before the buzzer sounded. Nerves played a big role in that first contest. One teacher brought every child from her school, so they could see the contest.

The Bent School team:

Terry Douglas and Shirley Shinn, front row

Barbara Sears, Mary Joan Jaspers, Ladon Wright and Neil King, Back row

Teacher Dorothy Bottomley

The Towanda team:

Margie Messer, Ronald Shoel, Neysa Miller, Dorothy Erwin, and Betty Morgan, front row.

Teacher Mrs. Wayne Litherland and Bill Quinn

Towanda was victorious in the first Quizdown.

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