When WATS/WAVR radio invited representatives from eight area school districts to Sayre in 1979, to discuss a proposal for a high school quiz show, who could have
imagined what the meeting would create?
All the broadcasts from that first season were tape-recorded on one day, and then
re-broadcast (one at a time) over the next few weeks. But, by the second season the matches were aired live, in groups called ‘qualifiers.’ And from that humble beginning
(8 teams competed for $450 in prize money the first year) Scholarship Challenge has
grown into a 24-team high school and 8 team junior high school competition that draws
students from 89 New York and Pennsylvania counties. It now offers an annual prize purse of $7000.
In those first few seasons, volunteers kept score with chalk on blackboards and equipment was borrowed from other radio & television stations. Now, the elaborate
set-up includes computer generated scoring. For its first 23 seasons the Sayre Area
School District was our host (Snyder Elementary), then came Waverly Central School District, and now Guthrie’s Patterson Education building auditorium is our home.
Over the years, more than 6,000 students have taken part in the Challenge, and
audiences have heard more than 24,000 questions. Winning schools have earned
almost $200,000 in prize money.
Scholarship Challenge has been visited by 4 U-S Congressmen, representatives from
the Governor’s Office, The State Education Department, and several state & local
dignitaries (including State Senators and State Legislators.) The Broadcast has
earned 28 state and national awards for programming excellence, and, thanks to the
support of the Twin Tiers’ community, hopes to continue offering our students
“The Power of Thought and the Magic of the Mind” for many years to come.