Ryan Gets Radio Active.


Our guest blogger Ryan Vickers is back again this week, and after touching on TV game shows, French game shows and high school game shows, this week, it’s all about a radio game show!


My Life In Game Shows

Episode 10 – ‘Newshounds’ (radio), 2014.

At this point in my life, I had never done a radio game show. Well, that’s not exactly true – I hosted a game show on my campus radio station in Newfoundland, Canada called Brain Freeze – but that’s a story for another day.

As luck would have it, CBC Radio (our national public broadcaster) put out the call for Toronto-area contestants to be part of a summer show called Newshounds in 2014. It would require contestants to answer questions about the headlines of the week, as well as other aspects of the news. I figured that it was a new show so… why not?

PRO TIP: Find out everything you can about a new show; in the early days they can’t afford to be picky about contestants because the pool tends to be smaller. I found out that it had a news and current affairs focus and made sure to tailor my application towards that.

Imagine my surprise when I was selected to be on the premiere episode! Thankfully I was able to arrange my attendance at the taping through some creative scheduling. The show’s format required you to be knowledgeable in all facets of the news. So I hunkered down and studied.

PRO TIP: As I’ve mentioned previously, use your resources. As the show was airing on CBC I made sure to do thorough studying of the news articles on their site, but also went on other sites like our national newspapers, entertainment sites and sport sites. Since there was also a “features” round I did more studying in major events around the world.

And HERE’s that premiere episode!

In the end, the studying paid off! The questions were definitely in my wheelhouse that day, and my knowledge base of the FIFA World Cup came in extra handy. I made sure to have fun with it and leave a great impression on the production staff so that hopefully I would see them again.

And as it turned out, there was a champions’ episode planned for the end of the season and I was invited back, to be part of it! I was thrilled beyond belief.

PRO TIP: If you’re lucky enough to be invited back to a championship match or tournament, make sure to step it up a notch. Be aware of how the show works, and if you can, study old championship episodes to see the level of difficulty presented.

And here it is – that Newshounds finale!

So what did I learn from the whole Newshounds experience? Be aware of your surroundings, be aware of your world… and be aware of that dreaded buzzer!

PRO TIP: If you’re going to be on a show that uses a buzzer, find a buzzer set to practice on. Even if it’s a ballpoint clicker pen or a hotel call bell, practice that buzzer.

In the next instalment of My Life In Game Shows, a slice of true Americana, where I get to “come on down”…


Thanks Ryan, and although Newshounds dealt specifically with current affairs, I do believe it’s really important for every aspiring quiz show contestant to be keeping up to date with the day’s news as a matter of course. If you’re serious about quizzing, there’s no excuse for not “consuming” some news each and every single day. It doesn’t matter whether it’s via newspaper, TV, radio, Facebook… whatever! It is absolutely essential to stay on touch with world events. After all, today’s headlines are often tomorrow’s quiz questions. And your daily reading will also have the very pleasant side effect of making you a more well-informed, interesting person. A win-win, really!  

Ryan Reaches For The Top… and gets there.

Hello! Our guest blogger Ryan Vickers is back with Episode 9 of His Life In Game Shows, and this week, it’s all about a long-running Canadian institution, which has crossed his path at various stages throughout his life….


My Life In Game Shows

Episode 9: Hosting A Show That I Played – ‘Reach For The Top’, 2010-present

I was in Year 10 in high school in rural Eastern Ontario, Canada when I heard about Reach For The Top.

What? A game show for high school students?!

I was in.

I was gung-ho for this game, a four-person quiz bowl style format, and I would make sure never to miss a practice. I also organised regional tournaments leading to championship matches for our school board finals.

When I moved to the Toronto area in the early 2000s, I took on coaching at a secondary school, which lead to helping to organising our local league.

In 2010, I found myself with some time to spare, and was able to hook up with the production team from Reach For The Top and landed myself a position as a Production Assistant. I was thrilled to get to help in any way I could.

PRO TIP: If it so happens that you want to work on a game show, take any position you can – you just need to get your foot in the door.

Over time, my role as Production Assistant led to me becoming a Question Writer, Game Assembler, Provincial Championship Host and in 2013 I took over the position that I have now – National Host! I get to preside over the National Championships every May.

What is it like? Well, as someone who has loved game shows all of his life, and who had the childhood dream of becoming a game show host, it’s pretty flipping cool! There are also tense times – the first game I ever hosted at the National level (a quarter-final match), the game went to a tie-breaker, which is rare in Reach games. I also love getting to do the “interview phase” with the players, and if they’re good at improv I’ll lob them classics such as “It says here on your card that you created the colour yellow. Tell us about it!”.

Well… at least it makes me smile!

Is it hard? Yes, very much so. As someone who is surrounded by knowledge all day long (I teach elementary school when I’m not having my game show adventures), I do think I know quite a bit about a lot of things, however I do make sure to read all the material before hosting any matches. I also keep my skills sharp by hosting regularly at the local, regional and provincial levels.

Is it rewarding? You bet it is. Every year I get to see such a bright, personable group of young people showing their academic prowess – it’s their version of the Olympics. I also love seeing players seemingly pull knowledge out of nowhere. I was also flattered in that one student once asked me to write a reference letter for her (and she ended up enrolling in my alma mater – bonus!)

If you’re so inclined – please check out a recent National Championship game!

Next time, we’re back on the game show experience train, but on the radio this time, and an additional follow up surprise on that show!


Congratulations Ryan, on following that dream, and having a ‘full circle’ style journey around that pivotal game show from your younger years. I’ve found that if you’re persistent and patient, incredible things can happen over a period of time. This has certainly been proven to me time and time again, not just by my own game show experience (as chronicled here, here and here), but in many other areas of life. So, whatever your goal may be – stick to it!

It may take time, but the rewards can be… well, immense! 

Game Shows Without Borders

Hello! This week our bilingual Canadian guest blogger Ryan Vickers is back – this time with a game show adventure that takes him across international borders, in a case of ‘Game Shows Sans Frontieres’…


My Life in Game Shows

Episode 8: Playing In Your Second Language – ‘Motus’, 2013

In late 2011, I found out that I had secured the first (of what, thankfully, led to many) tickets to see the London 2012 Olympics. Having watched game shows based in France for at least 20 years, I decided that perhaps the time was right to reach out to Motus, which is a French game show based on the little-known late 80s Canadian game show Lingo and better known these days from its version on Game Show Network in the USA. After some back and forth conversation (to check if I was eligible), I arranged for an audition in late August 2012.

PRO TIP: If you’re travelling abroad, apply for a game show! The contestant staff actually took the time to have a private audition with me because as much as I wanted to be on their show, I’m sure they saw it as a nice thing to have someone promoting their show outside their national borders.

I’ll have to be honest – I trained for several weeks for Motus, watching back episodes and playing the game online. I had the audition and I felt went just okay. I wish I had done more. I left thinking it was a “thanks but no thanks” situation, although they did extend the courtesy of giving me a home game on which to practice.

Which leads me to April 2013, when at about 6:30 AM one day I checked my email and found I had been given a tape date to be on the show! I quickly accepted, booked a flight, and four months later I was on set – with my father in tow – to tape my run on the show.

PRO TIP: Use your lead time wisely. I found a GREAT story online by Robert McKee, that described a wonderful strategy for how to play the game. I worked his tips into my strategy for playing the game.

The taping, unlike those in North America, was very calm and put me at ease. We simply stood at the podium and played the game off of a monitor. In fact, the only concern I had was talking in my second language, which turned out not to be a problem at all.

PRO TIP: When applying for a game show, give them a hook. Make them interested in you! I made sure to mention, for example, that I watched their show on the satellite channel available to me.

During the game, I played out my strategy, which worked for my teammate and I. I took my time, made educated guesses, and decided not to play the game exclusively as a game of words, but rather a puzzle to be solved, which just happened to involve letters and not numbers or pictures.

PRO TIP: Have FUN when you’re playing the game. I decided before the show to play to win but also to let my mind be at ease, and to roll with the punches. I enjoyed myself so much that I ended up on a French blooper show! If you’re having fun you’re going to do better.

Here is the episode! 

And here’s the subsequent clip on the blooper show (sorry for the point and shoot!)

While we didn’t win the show (due to some unlucky bingo ball drawing) it was a great experience, and one that challenged me both on a game show level and a language level. I was grateful to my partner for agreeing to play on a team with me, and to the staff of the show as well. In fact, the show allows another go…. so I think I might just do that!


Merci, Monsieur Vickers – C’était génial! (which Google Translate tells me is French for “That was great!”) I can’t imagine the added degree of difficulty that competing in a different language would bring to the game, and I applaud you for diving in. And I hadn’t really thought about it before, but if you are travelling overseas, why not apply to be on a game show while you’re there? You have absolutely nothing to lose, and potentially a whole lot to gain.

Sympa, Ryan! (which Google Translate tells me is French for “Nice one, Ryan!”)

‘Brigadoon’ is BrigaDone.

So the season of Brigadoon finished up on Sunday afternoon, and what a joy the whole experience was! Such a magnificent group of people to work with, and the show was well attended and well reviewed, right across the board.

‘Brigadoon’ – Me as Archie Beaton, alongside the magnificent Sally Bourne as Alice McLaren. Photo courtesy of The Production Company. Photographer: Jeff Busby.

Now, as I get ready to start my next gig tomorrow, I thought I’d just do a quick post, bringing you up-to-date with various gameshow related snippets of news, in case you haven’t seen them. So here we go.
Just thought you’d appreciate the info.
But we haven’t seen the last of him, my friends.
Also from the Jeopardy! desk, (the ‘now-this-doesn’t-happen-every-day’ department) a real rarity, as contestant Manny Abell won with a margin of just ONE DOLLAR, before going on to win over $42 000 in three days.
Back here in Australia, two new game shows (The Wall and Cram!) have premiered in the last couple of weeks, both to mixed reviews, to say the least. Both of their networks are saying they’re happy with the numbers the shows have pulled in, but it is a very cutthroat market. It’ll be interesting to see how their viewing numbers settle in the coming weeks…
 And in game show Intellectual Property news, the High Court in London court has ruled that game show formats can be copyrighted in much the same way that dramatic works are. Exactly how much of a game changer (sorry) this ruling will prove to be remains to be seen, but it could significantly change the game show development landscape. Originality and uniqueness front and centre in new game show formats?
Who’d a thunk it?
I also spotted this quick profile of 4 game show winners, and how they spent their prize money
And news of what looks to be a fascinating new documentary about a Price Is Right champion who-never-was-but-should-have-been. I’m definitely going to try and track this one down!
And finally, because you need to know this stuff, here’s a look at 8 of the weirdest game shows of all time. I cannot believe that Don’t Scare The Hare never got a second series. Where is the justice?
And that’s it for this edition of How To Win Game Show news. Up next, Erin with the weather, then a human interest story with footage of a cat on a skateboard.


Virus-free. www.avg.com

A HowToWinGameShows.com alumnus!

Hello! I have something a little bit different for you this week. A few days ago, I was utterly delighted to receive this email from a visitor to the site…
SUBJECT: A thank you from a ‘Hard Quiz’ contestant.
Hello Stephen,
I came across your excellent website earlier this year, when I was preparing to audition for ‘Hard Quiz’. Although I have a musical theatre background, I had never applied for a game show, and consequently did not know what to expect. Thanks to your very informative articles and resources, I was well-equipped to tackle the face-to-face audition process and was absolutely delighted when I was invited to appear on the show. Being an absolute research nerd, I followed your advice in researching the show back-to-front, devising my on-the-day strategy, and practising religiously at home. In particular, your interview with Gerard McCulloch gave me some clues about how to think like a ‘Hard Quiz’ writer.
My episode of ‘Hard Quiz’ aired last week. Although I did not win the Big Brass Mug, I made it into the final two, so at least I got to see one in person! Since the show aired, I’ve received a lot of lovely feedback on social media about my performance on the show, so I thought it was only fair for me to write in and say a huge THANK YOU for your virtual advice. If you feel like watching a short video of me roasting Tom Gleeson on the show, you can find it here.
Chookas for ‘Brigadoon’! I live in Sydney, so unfortunately I won’t be able to see it. I always wish The Production Company shows would tour interstate!
Yes, yes – I know what you’re thinking; “Wait a minute… This week’s post is shaping up to be nothing more than an utterly shameless one-man festival of pure, disgraceful self-congratulation. Oh come on, Hally – we expected better of you, you shameless hussy!”
Okay; firstly, a little harsh on your part… but please bear with me.
Caitlin really made my day, because this is EXACTLY the sort of thing that I wanted this blog to be all about.
The whole idea when I started this blog, back in March 2013 was to provide a resource for people wanting to go on game shows. And that’s exactly what Caitlin has used the site for. If you’re thinking about auditioning for a particular game show, there are a whole lot of articles and interviews here, on a wide variety of them…. including Wheel of Fortune, Family Feud, The Chase: Australia, Hard Quiz, Millionaire Hot Seat, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire… to name just a few!
You can SEARCH for the show you’re interested in with the handy dandy SEARCH bar above (in the top right corner of the page).
Or just click on the title of the show you’re interested in, in the “CATEGORIES” section. (Also on the right hand side of the page, a little lower down).
So I’d like to thank Caitlin for reminding me to remind you about the features of this site, and how to use them. Caitlin’s next game show adventure may very well be on The Chase: Australia, and so I wish her the very, very best of luck with that!
If you’re interested in following Caitlin on Twitter, you can find her here. AND you can watch her episode of Hard Quiz right here. (But only if you’re in Australia, unfortunately; I believe it’s geoblocked).
I think that’s it for now. Please do take advantage of all the resources here before applying for your particular game show experience – YOU are exactly the person that I’m compiling them for!
As always, I wish YOU the very best of luck, and I heartily encourage you to do all the homework you can, to give yourself the game show edge…
Now go get ‘em!




Ryan’s back, with ‘My Life In Game Shows: Episode 7’

Ryan is back this week, with a brief entry chronicling his time on a somewhat usual Canadian game show… But despite the relatively low stakes, and the fact that the show isn’t around anymore, Ryan does – as always – have some great tips and hints for you.

Over to you, Mr. Vickers!


My Life In Game Shows

Episode 7: Bringing along others for the ride – ‘Ice Cold Cash’, 2012

For years in the USA there was a game called Cash Cab – and in fact it’s coming back – where contestants mysteriously got into a taxi and answered questions to win cash. Food Network Canada came up with their own spin a number of years ago called Ice Cold Cash, whereby players answered food-related questions from a man driving an ice cream cart.

I found out about this game show the same way I found out about Inside The Box… on Craigslist! I dashed off an application and heard back a couple of days later that they wanted to book me for the show.

PRO TIP: Don’t just check a television network’s website and assume that they have the only contestant application information – make sure to do some digging. Look online on sites like Craigslist as well as blogs… and maybe even a game show host’s Instagram, for example.

Two different things happened in the lead up to the taping.

First off, I found out that I was near the start of the taping block. This is due to the fact that the production team got hold of me a few days before I was scheduled to tape. “We have been doing the show with single players”, they stated, “and it’s not really working the way we wanted it to. Please bring a partner.” In two days, I thought? Okay, I can do this.

PRO TIP: Roll with the punches. If I hadn’t said that I could get a partner (even if I didn’t have one in mind), I wouldn’t have gotten on the show.

Thankfully, I knew the perfect person to work with in this escapade – one that I had appeared in a reality TV show with previously, and she was free on the tape day.

The second thing was that production was still finding its legs – we weren’t where to go until the night before; they were still scouting locations. Again, as I said above, roll with the punches.

The show itself was a fun romp. We ended up filming in a large urban park in Toronto and we enjoyed our time. Take a look!

BONUS – watch my good friend on the show (on her own, to boot!)

PRO TIP: If you need to pick a teammate, make sure it’s someone whose skills complement yours. Don’t just aim for a “TV friendly” partner, but also one who fills in the blanks in your weak subject areas!

We had some luck with where the questions fell;

  • My friend is Italian and there was an Italian food question.
  • The name of my game show that I hosted on campus radio in university came up as an answer.
  • And we’re both French teachers by trade… and we got a French food question!

Mind you, if they’d allowed unlimited time on questions, it’s almost certain that we would have still been there six years later! It’s hard to walk away, but I remember not wanting to guess because we didn’t have a solid idea.

Next time I’ll hop back across the pond where I faced arguably my toughest game yet!



I’d like to thank Ryan so much once again for all the work he’s putting in to sharing his various game show experiences with us. It’s great to read about someone’s game show journey in such detail, and to see so many tips and hints sprinkled throughout his posts.
Thanks again, Ryan!

No post today. Except for this one.

Hello everyone. Sorry, but there’s no post here today.

Apart from this one.


You see, I haven’t had time to prepare a game show-related post for the blog this week, because yesterday I just started an intensive rehearsal process for the stage musical Brigadoon, which will be on in Melbourne… just 3 weeks from now!

So please bear with me for the next couple of weeks, and normal service will resume as possible. We have another instalment of Ryan’s Life In Game Shows coming up, and I also have some more behind-the-scenes anecdotes and reminiscences, which I hope will in some way prove helpful to you.

In the meantime, I must dash back off to the Scottish highlands, and my kilt is beginning to chafe….


Guest blogger Ryan’s appearance on a cult classic…


Firstly, an apology for the fact that I didn’t post here last Tuesday.

I was away on a little family holiday, enjoying a bit of R & R, so HowToWinGameShows.com wasn’t front and centre in my mind. It is this week, though, and today, our guest blogger Ryan Vickers returns, with Episode 6 of his game show adventures. And coincidentally enough, this time, it’s all about a certain holiday that HE took, and how game shows DID remain front and centre in HIS mind while he was away. Over to you, Ryan. 


My Life In Game Shows

Episode 6: A cult classic – ‘Countdown’, 2009

In 2009 I embarked on a year-long adventure. I took leave from work and was determined to fulfil many goals that required different timing than my job would normally allow. In addition to wanting to see game show tapings – and I ended up seeing 12 different tapings on three different continents, which I’ll talk about in a future post – I also wanted to BE on another game show in a completely different country. I set my sights on the UK – I had previously lived there and was familiar with many of their game shows.

I ended up downloading three application forms – Going For Gold, The Weakest Link and Countdown. Of the three, I decided to focus on Countdown as I felt I would be at less of a disadvantage because the other two required knowledge that may have been Euro-centric.

PRO TIP: If you’re serious about getting on a game show, make sure to pick one that plays to your strength. Ask yourself where you feel the most confident – Words? General knowledge? Audience participation? Talent based? – and focus on that.

Initially I tried to email the application but it bounced for whatever reason. So I went old school and sent off a letter in early June of 2009. A week later, I received an email from the associate producer with the first line stating “Thank you for your application for Countdown – although we were a little surprised to see the Canadian address!”.

PRO TIP: If you’re thinking about applying for a game show in another region, DO IT! The worst they can say is no. And if they say “sure, we can accept your application”, they will probably be very accommodating. Shows really like contestants from “far away”!

To speak to that tip, the associate producer arranged not only to do an audition over the phone but also made sure that a tape date would work with my travelling that fall. As a result, that November I found myself on the set of Countdown taping an episode.

… And that’s where this picture of Ryan comes from!

Countdown was a wonderful experience but is very much a quiet affair. It has great play-along value both in the studio and at home. Which leads me to my next piece of advice.

PRO TIP: Seek out any ways to practice the game you can. Don’t only watch the show as it is currently running (which tends to be difficult if you’re not in the normal viewing circle) but seek out past episodes on sites like YouTube. Play the home game, find online stand-alone or multiplayer games too. Perhaps the show has an official game on the Apple Store or Google Play and if not, find a knock-off version. If all else fails, build yourself your own practice set. Many games allow this – Countdown for example only required me to make decks of consonants, vowels, and a series of numbers.

On the show I had thirty seconds with the clock going to either find a longest word or do a calculation. This time goes by quickly!

PRO TIP: Focus on the task at hand. I learned to block out the clock’s accompanying music only until the last few beats when there was a tempo change, so as to confirm my answer. Focusing on the task at hand also means making sure to not worry about other things going on around you in the studio, which you likely can’t control.

Although Countdown did hand me my first game show loss (and yes, I’m well aware of this site’s name but sometimes you don’t always win, sadly!) I made sure to take lessons from it. In retrospect, I would have prepared differently using more online resources. However this did help me for future game show outings!


Thanks Ryan, some great tips there. For those of you in Australia, the equivalent show here was Letters and Numbers, which ran on SBS from 2010 to 2012. It was hosted by journalist / newsreader Richard Moorecroft, although one of the hopefuls who auditioned to host the particular show was in fact….. me.

But that’s another story, and one which I’ll be relating soon, right here at HowToWinGameShows.com!

Guest blogger Ryan’s Top Auditioning Tips.

Guest blogger Ryan Vickers


Our guest blogger Ryan Vickers is back again this week, with his thoughts on – and experiences of – auditioning for various different game shows. So, if you’re wondering whether or not to take the plunge and apply to get on your favourite game show, you’ll no doubt find his words of wisdom very handy!

And just a reminder, if you’d like to be a guest blogger for HowToWinGameShows.com too, I’d love to hear from you! Just email me, at Stephen@HowToWinGameShows.com.

But now, it’s over to Ryan for Episode 5 of His Life In Game Shows….


My Life In Game Shows

Episode 5: Try, Try, Try, Try, Try Again – Experiences In Auditioning

Over the years, I’ve been able to audition for various game shows and have applied for many more. And, just like me, the way that you were able to audition for game shows has changed. Originally it was merely the task of making a phone call when you saw the number on the screen during the show or read about an audition in the paper. Nowadays the “audition” has changed more into the “casting process” with considerably longer applications to fill out. Today, I’m talking about my experiences in various types of game show auditioning.


The first show I ever auditioned for was Wheel of Fortune. Once I was lucky enough to be randomly selected for a spot by random draw, I encountered what I would term the “personality form”. On many shows, longer forms are required – for example the English-Canadian version of Deal or No Deal was approximately an 11 page application that also required you to choose four dynamic people to be your “rooting section”

PRO TIP: When faced with questions like “Tell us something about yourself” or “What would you do with the money?”, take some time to think it through and put something unique. If you might spend the money on a trip, make sure to expand by picking something out of the ordinary that you might do, like a specific activity. I put down that I had swum in jello for a local mall contest; that was certainly out of the ordinary!


Two specific US game shows currently airing on the CBS Television Network – The Price is Right & Let’s Make A Deal – do auditions in the style of “speed dating”. Their contestants are picked from the audience members that have previously secured tickets for that day’s taping. The contestant staff quickly asks you questions like “Where are you from?” and “What do you do?”.

PRO TIP: Be yourself – just a bit bigger – when faced with this type of audition. Most importantly, BE YOURSELF. They will see through the fakers!


Following a written application, sometimes you’ll be asked to do a chat over the phone or Skype. They may ask you specifically why you want to play the game, or they may want you to play the game over the phone. The latter experience is the one I had when I applied for the French-Canadian shows Atomes Crochus (Blankety Blank / Match Game) and Pyramide ($100,000 Pyramid).

PRO TIP: MAKE SURE YOU KNOW THE GAME. Unless it’s a new game show (and that’s happened to me before) make sure you know how to play the game. It’ll look really embarrassing if you don’t know what’s going on in that situation!


At no point in the audition and appearance process is a game show obligated to put you “on the show”. Sometimes shows are very honest about this, and bring in more contestants than they actually need with the intention of not everyone getting to play on that day (but hopefully they will be playing at a later date). Sometime shows are literally watching during the taping and may switch prospective players out without any of their knowledge! This does happen at some shows – I’ve witnessed it!

PRO TIP: Keep up that high energy during the contestant briefing. You want to prove to the contestant staff that they picked you for a reason! And keep up that high energy throughout the taping, too! If you’re encouraged to get up and dance during a commercial break, DO IT. I stood up and danced at The Price is Right before the taping so I could prove I had great energy!

In the next episode of My Life In Game Shows, I’ll tell you about the first time I tried to get on a show across the Atlantic!


Thanks Ryan, looking forward to it.

One auditioning tip of Ryan’s today particularly stood out for me; Be yourself – just a bit bigger. He’s dead right – in fact, this exact advice has been given before here on the blog, by producers and executive producers of shows such as Family Feud and Millionaire Hot Seat. Game show producers are ALWAYS looking for contestants who are cheerful, outgoing and have a great sense of fun. Another way of putting Ryan’s tip would be BE YOURSELF… BUT ON A REALLY GOOD DAY!

And that’s it for this week. I’d like to thank Ryan again for sharing his game show adventures with us. Until next time!