Boomers Watched “College Bowl” on TV

A couple of weeks ago, NBC relaunched College Bowl, the question-and-answer TV game show that pits college teams against each other for scholarships and school bragging rights. Former football great Peyton Manning is the host.

Like many early TV shows, College Bowl started out on radio. It was 1953 when College Quiz Bowl, as it was then called, debuted with Allan Ludden as the moderator. The format of the show has not changed much through the years. Two teams of students representing their respective university/college face off in competition. The moderator reads a “toss-up question,” which any member of either team can buzz in to answer. If the question is answered correctly, that team receives a bonus question. The team can deliberate on their answer, but only the captain of the team states the answer. The team that accumulated the most points, when time expired, was named the winner. Interestingly, the moderator was in a New York studio, while the college teams were situated on their college campuses. The two teams and moderator were connected by telephone and radio communications.

In 1959, the show moved to national television on CBS with General Electric as its sponsor. Allen Ludden, the original radio host, became the host of the TV show. The early shows were broadcast from the defending campus, but soon were moved to the CBS New York studios. When Ludden was tapped to host Password, Robert Earle became the moderator. After four years, the show moved to NBC, where it ran from 1963 to 1970. This was the incarnation that Mister Boomer and his family occasionally tuned in to watch, because it was aired on Saturdays and Sundays. Mister Boomer’s father enjoyed game shows that asked tough questions, even if he was unable to answer the majority of them himself.

Once College Bowl left the airwaves, its creator, Richard Reid, the College Bowl Company and Richard Reid Productions continued it as an intercollegiate competition, in the U.S., England and ultimately dozens of countries around the globe. To date, the show is responsible for distributing tens of millions of dollars in grants to students and universities.

Now that it is back on network television, the question is, will you be tuning in, boomers?