He's Still Game




When “Granite State Challenge” — N.H. Public Television’s quiz show for high school students — went on the air in 1983, Tom Bergeron of “Dancing With the Stars” fame was the host. But a year later Bergeron was off to Boston and beyond, and Jim Jeannotte, long-time broadcaster and sports announcer from Concord, stepped in. And he’s been there ever since — 28 years! Jeannotte, who presides over the high-energy show with an enduring calm and confidence, shows no signs of stopping. On to “year 29 or maybe 30,” he says. The show isn’t Jeannotte’s only love — he’s also a sportscaster for the UNH Sports Network with Wildcats football and basketball. In 2002 he was inducted into the N.H. Interscholastic Athletic Association Hall of Fame as a media representative, just one of his many honors and awards.Can you believe you’ve been doing “Granite State Challenge” for 28 years? That’s probably the shock of shocks. We can thank some long-time underwriters for that. It is public television, so without underwriters there’s no show. Apparently we’ve produced something well-received enough for them to support us throughout the years.

Ever get bored with it? Reading and editing questions ... meeting with the kids prior to the show to help ease the nervousness ... the tempo of the game itself — none of this allows for any boredom.

What’s the aim of the show? I’m sure the official aim is written down somewhere, but my feeling is that it is to showcase the talents and personalities of our in-state high school students. Let them bring some recognition to their school. Let them bring some pride to themselves by competing against their peers. And let them experience the excitement of the lights, camera and action of a television studio. My aim is that they have an experience that they will remember for years.

Who makes up the questions? Believe it or not, they have companies that produce the questions. The answers are not always right, however, and thanks to our great judges over the years, we’ve usually been able to catch wrong answers.

Are kids just as smart as they were 28 years ago? Instead of the old reading, writing and arithmetic classes, kids today are studying mythology and computers. But each era is equally smart.

Do you ever have contact with former contestants? Yes. One time was two years ago when I had a severely torn rotator cuff and my orthopedic surgeon was a former Oyster River High School student whose team won the Super Challenge some 15 to 20 years ago.

How many years more do you think you’ll be doing GSC? I always think that the past year was the last either because I’m becoming too old to be a TV host or that the underwriting will run out. Thankfully, we have a new year beginning in late September and I’m looking forward to year 29 and, hopefully, maybe year 30.

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