“Number one ‘love’ songs,” where “love” had to appear in every answer. I worked in the Chicago suburbs for nine years before I got the job in the city, and I’d always lived in the city and commuted out to the suburbs, including a few really distant suburbs. When I was starting out, I had to cover these night meetings, like city council or local school boards, and on the way home I would listen to Delilah on Lite FM. After nine years of that I thought I would do well in that category. The only one I missed was a Captain and Tennille song.

Have you come across any fans in your reporting?

I’ve been really surprised at how interested people are. Just this morning, a Northwestern University professor won the Nobel Prize; he’s in Denmark as a visiting professor. I was talking to his wife, who likes the Sun-Times, and she knew about me being on Jeopardy.

How did your colleagues respond to the show?

They were super supportive. The editor actually bought pizza for the first day. Jeopardy is on at 3.30 p.m. in Chicago, and the news meeting is usually at 3 p.m., but they moved it back to 2.30 p.m. for the first show so that everybody could watch. For every game, including the one after I lost, everyone sat around the TV and cheered.

Did your career in journalism—or degree at the Columbia J-School—help in your success?

I will say this: something that really helped me is that I read three or four newspapers a day. I read The Chicago Sun-Times, The Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Daily Herald—suburban Chicago newspaper—and I read The Pittsburgh Gazette every day online. It helped with world capitals; I’d give a shout-out to The New York Times for that one.

Joel Meares is a former CJR assistant editor.