Masters of minutiae braced for trivia test

The Appleton Post-Crescent, January 24, 1992.

The telephones are in place, the reference material is ready and the masters of minutiae are braced for the start tonight of the biggest big deal there is as far as inconsequential information is concerned.

It is the 27th Midwest Trivia Contest, sponsored by Lawrence University and aired over its 10,000- watt radio station, WLFM, FM 91.1.

The contest starts at 48 seconds past 10 p.m. and runs until 48 seconds after midnight Sunday.

It is estimated that more than 125 teams, with four to 50 members, will participate. In recent years, there have been about 95 off-campus teams and 35 on campus.

About 400 questions are asked over the radio and teams call in their answers. Correct answers earn points, and the team with the highest total is the winner.

Winning, of course, isn’t everything. There are prizes for the first three teams on and off campus. Those prizes haven’t been announced yet, but in past years then have been such notable items as a salt lick, air-brush paintings on black velvet and plastic yard flamingos.

Clearly that isn’t what prompts these individuals to participate. In fact, it is difficult to know now what does.

Originally, it was a kind of student nose-thumbing at academic stuffiness. In 1966, a Lawrence senior decided that everybody else needed an alternative when professors and select students went off for an encampment to discuss the great issues of the world.

He wanted to concentrate on the issues that weren’t so great. The silliness grew from there.

Now alumni, Fox Valley residents, local high school students, people with peculiar minds and no connection with Lawrence whatsoever get so deeply involved that they will spend most of the weekend without sleep.

This year’s contest is directed by Matt Horn, trivia grand master, a Lawrence senior from Mount Horeb, and an army of trivia masters who have been compiling the questions on music, literature, movies, athletics, television, politics and other subjects.