If you’re like me, when you go to a trivia event hosted by Sporcle you wonder: how does someone end up reading trivia questions each week? Even more mystifying is the question of how they manage to keep a room of people happy despite telling them they are wrong, over and over again.
So, who are these mythical creatures? What led them to become hosts? Over the next few weeks you’ll be able to read the answers to these questions. I’ve talked to well-seasoned hosts and those who have just joined the Sporcle team to get an idea of what it’s like to be a host.
The first host interviewed for this series is Bob Randolph. Bob is located in the Columbus, OH area, where he has hosted over 190 shows since 2018.
Interested in going to Sporcle trivia hosted by Bob? Check out his Facebook page here!
How did you get started as a host?
Well, I was actually picking up an Amazon package and the place where I ended up parking had a bar right next to it. They were doing trivia and my buddy and I walked in there. We played trivia and I thought: I can do this. And that’s really how I started.
What is your day job?
I do programming and web development. I also work at a radio station on the weekends.
What was the hardest part about just starting out? Did you struggle with anything or did it just come naturally?
Well, I’ve been in radio for 30 years. So being out in public is not a problem for me. That’s the easy part of the job. The hardest part was learning the flow of the game…how to get the answers from players and get the scores in. The mechanics overall of making the game work was the hardest thing. But once you get into it, it’s easy.
It must be a lot easier now that we’ve gone to mobile-only answer submissions. Is it?
It has made it incredibly easy. The show where I actually decided that I wanted to be a host was one of the largest, if not the largest show that we had in the country. The show had 30 or 40 teams. I mean, it was, it was huge. Now with everything being online it makes it so simple.
We all know that they’re wrong and we just have a good time with it. And that’s the whole thing, you know, if they’re having a good time and I’m having a good time. That’s really what counts.
Let’s talk about wrong answers. I can imagine some are hilarious while others are just…sad. My go-to strategy is to come up with the funniest wrong answer but I’m not sure the hosts always appreciate that. What is your take on teams’ “answers” being jokes?
That’s actually one of the best parts of it. There are teams who will sit there and watch. They know that they’ve put in an answer, that it’s funny, that it’s wrong. And they will watch for my reaction as I’m reading the answers. I’ll look back at them and I’m laughing. And then I see them laughing. We all know that they’re wrong and we just have a good time with it. And that’s the whole thing is, you know, if they’re having a good time and I’m having a good time. That’s really what counts.
A lot of times I will read out the wrong answers, especially if they’re funny, just to give everybody else a good laugh and it, you know, it’s pick and choose on which ones you read. But usually the other players will get a kick out of it.
I have to ask: is there anything that sticks out as something really ridiculous when it comes to answers?
What sticks out in my mind is when we have a player or a team that disagrees with the correct answer. They’ll take the wrong answer they submitted the week before and just submit it again, week after week, just to show displeasure from the weeks before.
That’s some persistence.
We talk about it. I’m really open with the players. I let them know when they disagree with an answer, they know they can come up to me and ask, why didn’t you accept this answer? We’ll talk about it and I go over with everybody to make sure that there’s total transparency. I don’t want any of the players to ever feel like they’ve been slighted.
I don’t want any of the players to ever feel like they’ve been slighted
What’s your favorite part about being a host?
Just the social interaction. I get to see a bunch of different people during the week. I know who my regulars are and I look forward to seeing them. Even the new players, the new teams coming in. If you can get somebody to come back week after week just because you made a joke, or you made their day a little bit better just by having some fun.
Is there anything else you would like to say?
You grow into it. I’ve been in the public eye for 30 years. And one of the things that people don’t realize a lot of times is, if you’re having fun, they’re going to have fun. They will maybe notice some mistakes that you may make but you just keep going forward and don’t look back. And nobody is the wiser. You mispronounce a word and nobody’s going to care because they don’t know. And you stumble over a word. They don’t know.
So what did I learn? That I don’t need to be as terrified of making small mistakes. Like many people, I am extra critical of myself stumbling over a word or mispronouncing something. (Seriously, I’m still haunted by pronouncing leopard like “leo-pard” in fourth grade.) Talking to Bob made me realize that hosting is far less stressful than reading in a classroom. After all, everyone is there to have fun!
If hosting sounds like something you’d be interested in doing, you can get more information here!