Mueller and Northern close their Trivia Bowl career on a high note

By David H. Kirkwood

ORLANDO, FL—As reported earlier on this blog, the 25th annual Audiology Trivia Bowl, held March 29 at AudiologyNOW! 2014 in Orlando, was the last—at least the final one produced and presented by its co-creators, Gus Mueller and Jerry Northern.

Thunderstix added to the festive atmosphere at Trivia Bowl XXV.
Thunderstix added to the festive atmosphere at Trivia Bowl XXV. This and the other photos were taken by Jerry Roberts for AAA.

The popular event, which debuted in 1990 at the second annual convention of the American Academy of Audiology (AAA), caught on immediately.  It regularly attracted a thousand or more contestants, who formed teams that competed to correctly answer the obscure questions that Mueller dreamt up and Northern posed.

Since they had decided to make this their final Trivia Bowl, Gus and Jerry added some special features so they could go out on a high note. They provided every contestant with a CD containing their selection of the “Greatest Hits”–the top 100 questions from past Trivia Bowls. They also had Thunderstix placed on every team’s tables, which allowed participants to bid them a thunderous farewell.



Since Northern and Mueller’s retirement from the trivia business was announced two days earlier at the General Assembly at AudiologyNOW!, AAA had a chance to plan a tribute to the audiology triviameisters, who are both prominent audiologists and founding members of AAA.

Gus Mueller and Jerry Northern hosting their 25th and last Trivia Bowl.
Gus Mueller and Jerry Northern say farewell.

At the start of the Trivia Bowl, Bettie Borton, president of the Academy, turned the tables on Gus and Jerry by asking them trivia questions on sports and movies from 1990, the year of the initial Trivia Bowl in New Orleans. She then presented them with plaques that read: “With appreciation for advancing audiology education through memorable, madcap minutiae about hearing science….and the not-so-science.”

During the break between presenting the questions and announcing the answers, Tom Powers, a co-inventor of the audiology trivia contest, surprised the trivia guys with a chilled bottle of champagne. Powers, who is vice-president of product management and government accounts for Siemens Hearing, sponsor of the Trivia Bowl from the start, then led a toast congratulating Gus and Jerry on their Silver Anniversary. For a history of the event, click here.

The Trivia Bowl ended with one last question, number 625, related to a viral YouTube video known as Beer in the Ear



Fred Rahe of the winning team, accepts the champion's trophy from Gus Mueller.
Fred Rahe of the winning team, Lions and Tigers and Ears, Oh My!, accepts the Trivia Bowl championship trophy from Gus Mueller.

More often than not, the Trivia Bowl winners were teams that had been together for years and whose members were carefully selected for their wide store of knowledge. Notable among these were the Phonemic Regressives, who were six-time champions.

However, this year the first place trophy went to a group of audiologists and students who happened to sit down at the same table. They came up with a novel name, Lions and Tigers and Ears, Oh My! (inspired by a song title from The Wizard of Oz) and proceeded to answer more questions correctly than any of their more experienced rivals.

By the time the results were announced, most of the team members had already left, several of them to catch a flight home to Alaska.  As a result, only Fred Rahe, a Florida audiologist, and one teammate were there to accept the trophy.

The hotly contested best team name award went to Twelve Years a Slave to  Student Loans, while the team from Salus University finished first in the student competition.

The team from Salus University celebrate their victory in the student category.
The team from Salus University celebrates its victory in the student category.