Monday, January 4, 2021

One time I lied on the radio...and you can hear it here

I'm pretty sure other cities have equivalent programs, but there is a long-running local TV show in Cleveland called "Academic Challenge." Each episode, three-person teams from local high schools compete against each other by answering questions on history, math, science, general knowledge, etc.

I was on the Academic Challenge team when I was in high school, and we won our match in 1987 against Copley and Magnificat high schools.

Back then, you only appeared on the TV show every other year. In the off years, you could compete in the WERE radio "Whiz Quiz."

The Whiz Quiz was similar to Academic Challenge, except there were only two teams per episode as opposed to three, and of course it was on radio instead of TV.

My senior year was one of those off years, so we went on the Whiz Quiz to compete again Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (Lebron James' alma mater, though it should be noted that Lebron was still a toddler at the time, so he was not in attendance).

The show was live, and that particular week it was broadcast from Baldwin Wallace College (now University).

As team captain for Wickliffe, one of my jobs was to give quick bios about my two teammates, Diane and Nate, and myself. As we were driving to BW and discussing that little "meet the team" segment, our advisor, the legendary Mr. J. Patrick Penrod, said to me, "You know, you can say anything you want and no one will know."

I could make up stuff about the three of us and just say it? Live on the air? I was in!

Diane and Nate very wisely wanted to keep their bios entirely factual, but I decided I was going to run with it. When it came time to introduce us, I ran down their impressive academic and extracurricular resumes. Then I got to myself.

Most of what I said was true, but at the very end I added, "In the fall of this year I will be attending Yale University to major in baroque symphonic composition."

This, if you haven't gathered, wasn't the least bit grounded in reality. I was going to John Carroll University and I knew it. And I don't think it's possible to major in "baroque symphonic composition."

You can hear a recording of the whole thing by clicking on the following link. Our team intros start exactly at the 10:00 mark, with my little fib coming around 10:39:

We went on to win by a pretty decent margin, as I recall.

If that had been the end of the story, it would be a good one. But there's an interesting coda to it.

That episode was recorded in March 1988. Fast forward about five months to my first day as a student at John Carroll. I walk into my very first class in the Jardine Room. As I enter, I look to my right, and who do I see sitting there? Why it was Joe Rinaldi, captain of that St. Vincent-St. Mary team we had defeated on the Whiz Quiz.

I looked at him, he looked at me. He recognized me immediately. For a second he looked confused, and then he asked me, "Did you lie?" I laughed and admitted I had. For the next four years any time I would see him on campus, he would say, "Liar!" Or, "Hey, it's the liar!"

He meant it in good fun, but he also conceded that the idea of going up against a team captained by someone attending an Ivy League school had been a little intimidating.

We psyched 'em out? All the better. Mission accomplished.

No comments:

Post a Comment