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Laura Lorson takes on Jeopardy!

KPR "All Things Considered" host, Laura Lorson, with Alex Trebek, host of "Jeopardy!" (Photo Courtesy of Sony Pictures)

KPR’s host for All Things Considered, Laura Lorson, was recently a contestant on Jeopardy! KPR is inviting you to a watch party 4:30-6 p.m., Wed., March 4, at the Oread Hotel in Lawrence to view the 5 p.m. broadcast with Laura’s guest appearance. 
Q: What was the process like to audition for the show? 
A: It was a much longer process than I had thought it would be. I had the idea that I’d take the online test and then someone would tell me if I had qualified and I’d just go play the game. That was woefully inaccurate. It’s a multi-stage process stretched out over months that involved – for me, anyway – a trip to Chicago and then another set of tests and then being told to pretty much be on standby for 18 months, and to wait for a call from Sony…which might well never come, and I could try out again after that holding period. No one could be more surprised than I was to ever hear from these people again after about seven months.
Q: Once you got onto the set, what was the anticipation like before the game?
A: It was agonizingly awful. The pool of contestants sits in the audience waiting to be members who are selected to play. You’re wearing TV makeup, so you’re trying not to fidget or touch your face. You’re convinced that you’re going to completely fail once you get on stage, because you know all the answers in all the categories for the games that are taking place while you’re waiting. Plus, there’s a bit of a psych-out game going on with your fellow contestants-in-waiting. It’s kind of like graduate school, all condensed into one incredibly stressful day.
Q: How long did it take you to get used to buzzing in quickly with an answer? 
A: I never got completely used to it, actually, as you’ll be able to see. You hear a lot in the audition process about how it’s keyed to these lights that are visible to the players when you’re allowed to buzz in – the buzzers are locked until a certain point in Alex Trebek’s progress of reading a question aloud. But for me, the lights were completely no help in judging when to buzz in. If you wait for the lights to indicate that it’s okay for you to buzz, you aren’t ever going to be first. So you have to come up with a different plan. For me, it was kind of a timing issue linked to anticipating when Alex would get to the end of the question.
Q: Afterwards, what can or can’t you talk about until the air date?
A: I pretty much can’t talk about anything. I can’t talk about the categories, the questions, the outcome, the wagering. But that’s okay. First and foremost, the show is an entertainment program, and it’s more entertaining to watch when there are no spoilers. The real challenge has actually been being careful not to accidentally disclose anything online, because I’m a big user of social media and it’s easy to say something spoiler-y, even when you didn’t mean to.
Q: Any advice for KPR listeners interested in auditioning for the show? 
A: Be persistent. Be prepared to never hear anything back from the show producers. From my conversations with other contestants, it seems to be rare to get on the show the first time you try taking the test. Schedule a LOT of time once you’ve been told you have a qualifying score. Be prepared to drop everything and go to a different city (on your own dime, by the way) for a second round of tryouts. Then be prepared to wait to hear back…and be prepared to never hear back, even at that stage. Oh, and don’t worry about how you look. I’m really self-conscious about how I look and honestly, you shouldn’t let that be something that stops you from trying out. Finally, if you do get a spot on the televised program, remember that everyone except Alex is pretty much terrified. You’ll do better if you just forget about how you’re doing, game-wise, and if you just treat it as though it’s a fun quiz that you’re taking, just because you want to. 

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