Trivia Addicts Unite

Friday, November 19, 2010

When KVSC radio launched its signature annual trivia marathon in 1980, the 6th Floor Stearns Playboys out-answered 25 teams playing in residence halls to become the first winners. This year when team Stefan’s Dream XI Veni, Veni, Veni snagged its second consecutive “golden urn” traveling trophy it was a victory over
66 teams with nearly 2,500 players
in sites throughout Minnesota and around the globe.

From its beginnings as a cool Residence Hall Association/KVSC venture to relieve cabin fever in the midst of winter, Trivia Weekend has mushroomed into a hot draw for addicted alumni, faculty, staff, students and external players willing to trade sleep for the thrill of digging for quick answers to incredibly obscure questions.

“This is NOT Trivial Pursuit,” said Jo McMullen-Boyer ’91, station manager of KVSC 88.1 FM,
St. Cloud State’s radio station. “These are questions that very few people
would be able to answer off the top
of their heads.”

Bleary-eyed as they were 45 hours into this year’s “Trivia in 3D” 50-hour marathon, it took only minutes for Stefan’s Dream members to nail the answer to a 25-point question, “What is the name of the fictional band Howard Newly was part of.” The thread to success started with the knowledge that Newly was the fictional dad in the 2007-09 ABC sitcom, “Samantha Who.” An Internet listing of the television show’s episodes included one titled “The Rock Star,” and the answer, “The Shadow Makers,” was just one more click away.

For repeat players like Stefan’s Dream veteran Aaron Broissoit ’00, Trivia Weekend is a homecoming
of sorts. A St. Cloud native who’s founded two successful Web design firms since earning his degree in communication studies, he gathers yearly with a multigenerational group of team members – largely alumni professionals who look forward to
the camaraderie of reliving a tradition they started as students.

“The big draw of trivia weekend is that it’s a combination of your best friends with the absurdity of the event,” said Broissoit, who started playing in 1994. “We’ve played all over the world on this epic course to the goal of winning. It took us a long time to get to such honored status,” he wryly said of the ascent to number one. His teammates include friend-since-childhood Alex Krueger ’00, now an electrical engineer in Minneapolis. Alex and his brother, Dr. Nick Krueger ’96, a physician in Montevideo, come home to St. Cloud every year to play on rival teams. This year Nick played for Mustache, the team that came in second.

Trivia also is a family pursuit for St. Cloud State Mass Communications Professor Mike Vadnie. He played in his 28th contest this year, and daughter Shannon Vadnie ’06, was among the many other veterans who joined him in the basement of local theatre Pioneer Place, headquarters for the Some Loose Meat Sandwich Assembly RQD team. Shannon still remembers answering her first Trivia Weekend question at age 5: “What was the name of the fish in Pinocchio? (answer: Cleo).”

Vadnie played for 14 years on the GDI team, which disbanded in 2000 after a long and successful run – “three top-three finishes in 15 years,” he said. “GDI is sprinkled around at least 10 different teams now.” Several of Vadnie’s teammates over the years have been former students, alumni who were drawn back to the cult of sleep-deprived loyalists who survived the 50-hour marathons on strong coffee, chips, barbeques, donuts and candy.

Community diehards include State Rep. Larry Haws and his family, who have competed for 20 years on the team Sigma Phi Nothing.

“Trivia is a great example of the extension of the university into the community,” said McMullen-Boyer. “It really does bridge the relationship of campus with community.”

In some cases, “community” stretches a long way. Sam Meyer supplied Stefan’s Dream with the answer to a 65-point question from his temporary quarters in Iraq. Magnus Kongstein, an international student at Augsburg College from Oslo, Norway, heard about the annual marathon and came to play on the Some Loose Meat Sandwich Assembly RQD team.

For the many students who play, work the phone banks and volunteer in other ways, “It’s an awesome form of out-of-class learning,” said McMullen-Boyer. “It’s a huge fun event, but they’re learning hands-on. And when students get involved they carry it with them forever.”

Jenna Albrecht Pass ’99 became “completely hooked” when as a mass communications student she visited the GDI team headquarters with a friend. “I ended up spending the entire weekend and came back again the next year and the next.”

A communications director from St. Cloud who’s lived in Los Angeles since graduation, Albrecht Pass returned one year to play and has listened online in recent years. “Last year I spent so many hours IMing (instant messaging) answers to Vadnie’s team my husband kept wondering why I was sneaking away to the office in the middle of the night. I’m a complete sucker for learning about new things and finding answers. The fact that there’s a whole weekend that fuels my addiction and dozens of people who share it makes me a very happy camper each year.”

For enthusiasts who begin as students, the yearly event with the funky team names and the great Sunday night celebration for those still standing remains a key connection with their alma mater. “This is a huge alumni event,” McMullen-Boyer said. “Hundreds come to play, and 40 to 50 volunteers are alums.”

“Alumni come through the door (of the studio), throw up their arms and say it’s good to be home,” McMullen-Boyer said.

Information about KVSC’s 2011 Trivia Weekend, scheduled for Feb. 11-13, will be posted Dec. 15. “Superheroes of Trivia” is the theme for what will be the campus radio station’s 32nd annual information treasure hunt.

2010 ‘Trivia in 3D’ by the numbers:

  • 2,000 to 2,500 players
  • 67 teams – eight outside Minnesota
  • 350 streaming online listeners
  • 2,500 cumulative volunteer hours
  • 50 volunteers per hour at KVSC, phone bank, UTVS
  • 30-35 volunteers on phone bank per hour
  • 52 sponsors – food and prize donations
  • 72 donated pizzas

- Marsha Shoemaker

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