Tennessee Knowledge Bowl
News Channel Three's Knowledge Bowl is a high school televised quiz competition held each year by WREG-TV in the Memphis and greater Mid-South region. It has taken place annually for the last 30 years.
Kyle Rote Jr. was the host for many years in the late 90s and early 00s. Later, Chief Meteorologist Jim Jaggers took over and is currently the host. The judge for possibly the entire course of the show has been (now-retired) Dean Richard Ranta of the University of Memphis.
The original format featured two rounds of 7 minutes each followed by a 4-minute all-current-events "Lightning Round." The Lightning Round is known for asking about stories featured on WREG and for having tiebreakers such as "what was the average temperature in Memphis last month." Recently, the format was modified to include a 2-minute "Captain's Showdown" segment that takes place before the Lightning Round. It was again modified to add "Extra Credit" questions worth 50 points as well as themed team bonus rounds.
A correct answer in the first two rounds earns a team 10 points and a team bonus question that is worth 20 points. Lightning Round questions are 10 points each.
32 teams from across the Mid-South compete in the tournament in single-elimination format each year. Only the semifinalists and finalists from previous years are guaranteed a spot in the next year's tournament. Teams from the WREG viewing area may apply for entry via a lottery, which is held at the year-end banquet each year and determines the draw as well as which schools are selected each year. Without any seeding, some first-round matches end up featuring some of the best teams, which can lead to frustration given the high financial stakes for advancing later in the tournament. Matches are filmed throughout the year at WREG's studios.
The non-current events questions are from Academic Hallmarks and have the same bad quizbowl issues that most other Knowledge Bowl-branded formats have with swerves, speed-checks, and hoses as well as a focus on the pet topics of the Academic Hallmarks writer and near-verbatim repeats year after year. Occasionally, there have been monitor-based questions requiring players to respond to math questions or identify various people, places, and things. The current events questions appear to be written by various personnel involved with the program, but also display many of the same issues as the non-current event questions.
Significant savings bonds and college scholarships are offered through a number of corporate and public sponsorships. All members of the winning team receive $7,500 each while the runners-up receive $3,500, with lesser prizes offered each round.
Due to its longevity, large prize money amounts, and the high profile of its recent hosts, Knowledge Bowl has dominated the attention of most high schools in the Mid-South area compared to other quizbowl events. Almost all tournaments in the Memphis area use Academic Hallmarks questions in an effort to imitate the TV show and prepare for it, leading to a dearth of pyramidal quizbowl in the area.