UCSB linguistics professor Robert Kennedy will appear on tonight’s episode of “Jeopardy!” airing at 7 p.m. on Channel 6 KSBY.
One of only 400 contestants selected to appear on the show annually, Kennedy has taught introductory and advanced linguistics courses at UCSB for the last six years. Hundreds of thousands of applicants apply to the game show and roughly 4,000 candidates are selected for in-person interviews yearly.
Kennedy said he had wanted to appear on “Jeopardy!” since childhood.
“It’s always been a dream to be on the show,” Kennedy said. “When my wife and I moved here six years ago and L.A. was so close, it became more of a real possibility so I began trying out. It’s a fun experience that I get to share with people in my life.”
Although he brushed up on trivia knowledge before, Kennedy said there was no way to predict the content he faced on “Jeopardy!”
“I spent a half hour a day for a couple months leading up to the taping, studying categories that I knew come up a lot,” Kennedy said. “There’s always something about U.S. presidents and about Shakespeare so I spent time on those. I didn’t cram the night before because there’s no way to know what they’re going to ask.”
Kennedy’s wife, UCSB communication professor Robin Nabi, said she is excited for her husband’s debut.
“The whole day he was at the taping I felt nervous,” Nabi said. “Just thinking about being on the show makes my palms sweat. He had a lot of fun and that’s what the show is really about.”
Kennedy said he was thrilled to meet Alex Trebek, who he described as more relaxed in person.
“He’s almost goofy,” Kennedy said. “You get the sense that he is really good at his job. You can tell that he is good at entertaining the audience and loves what he does.”
Ashlye Azad, a fourth-year linguistics major, said she was excited to watch her former professor on TV.
“But then I realized I have work, so I’m having my mom DVR it so I can watch it when I go home for Thanksgiving,” Azad said.