Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

Events

Pat Sajak

Host, Wheel of Fortune

Major Issues Lecture Series

Topic: Media: Playing Games with Accuracy

Monday, June 7, 1999

Listen (Length: 25:17)

Pat Sajak has been host of “Wheel of Fortune” since 1981, when it was a daytime network game show. The top-rated syndicated version of “Wheel” began in 1983 with Sajak at the helm, bringing him three Emmys, a People’s Choice Award and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

“I was very lucky in that I always knew that I wanted to be in broadcasting,” Sajak said. “My early heroes were people like Arthur Godfrey, Dave Garroway, Steve Allen and especially Jack Paar. These were people who helped shape what a television personality was, paving the way for so many others.”

Sajak majored in broadcasting at Columbia College in Chicago while at the same time working at a small area radio station as a newscaster and announcer. He joined the army in 1968, was sent to Vietnam, and spent a year and a half with Armed Forces Radio in Saigon as the morning disc jockey, starting each day by shouting, “Good morning, Vietnam!”

Following his discharge, he spent time at another small radio station in Murray, Kentucky. After about a year, he decided to move to the nearest big city (which happened to be Nashville) to move into television. He was hired by WSM-TV as a staff announcer, eventually expanding his role to talk shows and weathercasting. He was spotted by a talent scout for KNBC-TV in Los Angeles in 1977 and brought west to be that station’s weatherman.

Four years later, he was chosen by “Wheel’s” creator, Merv Griffin, to take over hosting duties on the daytime version of the show. The nighttime version is in its 16th season as television’s top-rated syndicated program.

Sajak hosted his own late-night talk show in 1989-90 and has guest starred on dozens of comedy, drama, game and talk shows. He currently heads his own production company (P.A.T. Productions) in association with Columbia Pictures Television, has amassed a half-dozen platinum records through his music publishing company and owns a radio station in Annapolis, Maryland.

Sajak and his wife, Lesly, a photographer, have two young children.

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