The Los Angeles Chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association

A Record Turnout for 2001 Trivia Bowl and 20th Anniversary Celebration

Forty-three teams competed in 2001 Trivia Bowl at KABC-TV in Glendale.

By Richard Fruto
Gianelli & Morris

GLENDALE, Calif., Sept. 28, 2001–Trivia Bowl VII drew the largest number of teams ever to compete in the Asian American Journalists Association Los Angeles chapter’s signature fundraiser.

More than 500 journalists and community leaders participated on 43 teams, nearly four times the record field of 11 teams in some previous years, in this year’s Trivia Bowl on Friday, Sept. 28. The event at KABC-TV in Glendale was emceed by KABC-TV anchor David Ono.

Trivia Bowl raises money for scholarships, student internship stipends and professional development programs. The event this year also marked the chapter and organization’s 20th anniversary.

L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, Assemblywoman Judy Chu and representatives from Mayor Jim Hahn and Assemblywoman Carol Liu’s offices noted the chapter’s anniversary and made official presentations.”Our goal was to celebrate our 20th Anniversary with the community. In these uncertain times, it’s even more significant to be a part of and participate in one’s community, whether it be it ethnic, professional or a room full of you folks–people who know irrelevant, insignificant, unimportant information,” said AAJA-Los Angeles President Denise L. Poon in her opening remarks.

The event’s charitable purpose and significance quickly took a back seat in the heat of the friendly competition as team after team fought first to establish and then to improve its place in the competition standings.

A first-time Trivia Bowl competitor, the Japanese American Bar Association, took home the Rice Cup, the new perpetual trophy that will go to the champion each year.

JABA prevailed in sudden death over a team from the Los Angeles Times. JABA and L.A. Times Team II had tied at 57 points after four regular 20-point rounds and remained tied after a 10-question playoff round.

2001 Trivia Bowl Champions: the Japanese American Bar Association.

“Winning wasn’t an important thing. It was the only thing,” said Jason Wilson, JABA’s team captain and veteran player of two TV game shows and Cal Tech’s Quiz Bowl team.

JABA succeeded the Asian Pacific American Legal Center as the Trivia Bowl champions, marking the second time that a legal organization had prevailed in Trivia Bowl and raising good-natured howls of protest from the L.A. Times teams that the questions were geared in favor of legal minds. L.A. Times Team II also noted that although the game commissioner is a former journalist, he has been practicing law for several years.

L.A. Times Team II had fought its way out of a six-way tie for third in the first round to take command of second place behind JABA in the third round. The Times forced JABA into the 10-question playoff round with a top score of 16 out of a possible 20 points in the final regular round.

“All the answers were in the pages of the Los Angeles Times, which has far more comprehensive information than any of our competitors. If we had read our own newspapercover to cover for the last 10 years, we would have won easily. This will not happen next year,” said AAJA founder and Times Business Editor Bill Sing, who competed on L.A. Times Team II.

Trivia Bowl is sometimes a game of inches, where a team’s finish depends on one or two questions, a matter that was especially true for Dateline NBC/NBC Network News, which finished third with 53 points, improving on its fifth-place finish in Trivia Bowl VI. The team was one of only two (the other was L.A. Times Team II) that answered correctly a question about the second-largest shark (the basking shark), earning it one more point to avoid a three-way tie for fourth place after the regular rounds.

“Our strong performance just shows the value of life in front of the television,” said Josh Mankiewicz, NBC Network’s team captain and Dateline NBC correspondent.

A Unity team made up of members of the California Chicano News Media Association and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists finished fourth after beating The Orange County Register in the 10-question playoff round. Both teams were tied with 52 points, just a point behind NBC, after the regular rounds. The Register, which finished second last year, finished fifth after losing the playoff round, 4-6.

Feeling the pressure prior to the event as the defending champions, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center team studied the 2001 World Almanac and played mock Trivia Pursuit games.

APALC finished in seventh place. “We had a really good time,” said Rebecca Shea, APALC’s team captain.

APALC appeared poised for a repeat as champion when it placed atop the leader board after the first two rounds. But it dropped to fifth place, seven points out of first place, and out of top prize contention after a dismal third round when it answered only half of the questions correctly.

“As we left the parking lot, we were making plans for next year to return and reclaim the Rice Cup,” Shea said.

The APALC team was not alone with its team’s competitive strategy. The Asian Business Association, which placed 10th, invited Los Angeles students from the academic decathlon and national science bowls.

“It was great to see AAJA-Los Angeles open the event to the API community, giving the opportunity for students and community leaders to network,” said ABA’s David Iwata. Even the first place team admitted having a ringer–a three-day “Jeopardy” champion–and the JABA team credited part of their success to a last-minute defection from the APALC team.

Blockbuster Inc. took home a case of Top Ramen it earned by placing last with 28 points. “We wanted to go home with a different prize than the ones we brought,” said Blockbuster’s team captain, Karen Newman, referring to the donated Blockbuster credit cards used for competition prizes.

KTLA-TV, the Top Ramen winner for the last two years, earned “most improved” title.

Throughout the competitive evening, heightened security precautions were a constant reminder of recent world events.

“Taking everything into consideration, we carefully and cautiously moved forward. It was an appropriate community event that lifted everyone’s spirits,” said Denise Dador, AAJA-L.A.’s vice president for broadcast, referring to the continuing news coverage by journalism colleagues of the terrorists attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, which took place some two weeks before Trivia Bowl.

“We are so pleased with the event’s spectacular success. It was a fun evening of fundraising,” Poon said.

View a list of sponsors from AAJA Los Angeles Trivia Bowl VII.

View a list of registered teams from AAJA Los Angeles Trivia Bowl VII.

View official rules of AAJA Los Angeles Trivia Bowl VII.

View excerpts of Q&As from AAJA Los Angeles Trivia Bowl VII.

View final standings from AAJA Los Angeles Trivia Bowl VII.

View photos from AAJA Los Angeles Trivia Bowl VII.�