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QuizBusters Host Reflects on Final Show & Farewell Gift

Ottinger at podium on QuizBusters set
File photo
Matt Ottinger at podium on QuizBusters set

QuizBusters host Matt Ottinger talked with former Morning Edition host Brooke Allen about wrapping up this long-running series.

1989… George H.W. Bush became the U.S. President and James Blanchard was Michigan's Governor. It was also the year of the Exxon Valdez spill and and the year Taylor Swift was born.

Also, it was the year QuizBusters debuted on WKAR. Since 1989, thousands of Michigan high school students answered fast-paced questions.

On May 26, the final show airs on WKAR-TV at 5:30-7:00 p.m.. It was taped back in December. So for this story – we brought back two familiar voices – Quizbusters host Matt Ottinger talked with former Morning Edition host Brooke Allen about wrapping up this long-running series.

ALLEN: So tell me how life has been for you?

Matt Ottinger
Matt Ottinger

OTTINGER: Well you know when people ask and oh my goodness, so many people have asked and it's gratifying. The first thing I say is right now it's not supposed to feel any different. We would normally finish a season by early December, which is what we did. We taped our last show in the first week of December. This is the time of year when I'm not doing QuizBusters anyway. So in many ways, it's normal for me and won't be until the fall when we would have started our next season that maybe it would start feeling a little different. 

ALLEN: So I was there on the final taping and that happened on December 8... and that was an amazing night!

OTTINGER: It was really overwhelming. The nice people at the television station told me they were going to do this. They said 'we're going to throw you a party and going to invite people'. There were 200 people in the audience for our final show. There were some guys who are my age... who were students in our first season. They were hilarious. They were so happy to be there. They had a lot of fun. We had lots of former students. 

ALLEN: You were presented with some awesome tennis shoes?

OTTINGER: With some awesome,  high-top, purple, QuizBusters branded Converse. It's common knowledge that I would always wear a pair of black Converse on the show. This was my present. Completely unexpected. I don't know whose idea it was but it was a brilliant, brilliant gift.

ALLEN: Tell me in one word what you miss most about QuizBusters?

OTTINGER: Students would be one word. The longer answer is I miss playing the game with the kids, with the players. They're the most interesting part of the show to me. They're the stars of the show to me and I miss those students. That is why one of my big things at that party was seeing so many of the former students coming back and saying how special QuizBusters was and letting me know what they're doing these days which of course are remarkable things.

Brooke Allen served as local producer and host for Morning Edition, from June 2016-March 2018.
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