• Joe Pace

Granite State Challenge, #102: New Hampshire Public Television Studios, Durham


Let's play the feud!

Ah, Channel 11. Growing up, it was how we were introduced to British comedies like Monty Python and Fawlty Towers, or watched the endless nature shows my brother loved. But I think we all know that the highest and best use of the NHPTV studios adjacent to the UNH campus in Durham was and is the flimsy set of the high school quiz show, Granite State Challenge.


GSC began in 1984, hosted during its premiere season by local impresario Tom Bergeron. Iconic host Jim Jeannotte took the reins the following year, and he's been there ever since, asking the questions and engaging in awkward inter-round banter with the adolescent contestants. One minute to go folks, one minute remaining.


We had a team at Exeter High School, and in the fall of 1991 (though the art makes it look like 1971) we stuck around for two rounds of the statewide tournament. Our team was talented and yet questionably balanced - Aren Paster and Whitney Tucker brought a redundant STEM expertise, which Jen Strickland Cyr augmented while adding some obscure pop culture and music or literature history expertise. I was the wild card, the jack of some trades, relied upon for history and civics and sports. Our fish-tied alternates were the underutilized Kevin Foote and Nate Oxnard. We were not great team - we used to "practice" by playing Trivial Pursuit in coach Cary Kilner's chemistry classroom - and while we squeaked past Monadnock in round one, we ran into a Portsmouth buzzsaw in round two. I remain convinced that one dorky jerk Matt had the answers beforehand.


We made a go of it, though, with our bad hair and worse glasses and generally questionable fashion sense. Some of our blown questions are cringe-worthy in retrospect (cleavage?), but some of our hits remain impressive for teenage minds under pressure. And there's the final horn, folks...

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