Meet Pat Sajak

Pat was born in Chicago, Illinois on October 26, 1946. He spent all of his young life in that city, attending both Goethe and Gary Elementary Schools, Farragut High School and Columbia College. He was the oldest of three brothers, and he remains so today, except even older.

His first chance to broadcast came in 1965 when his name was drawn on WLS Radio’s “Dick Biondi Show” to be a “Guest Teen Deejay.” Biondi was ill the night Pat was to appear, so he went on with Dick’s replacement, Art Roberts, for a full hour that Saturday night, reading commercials, announcing records and trying to sound professional. He was hooked.

While attending Columbia College in Chicago, (and working nights as a desk clerk at the Palmer House Hotel) one of Pat’s broadcasting instructors, a local announcer named Al Parker (who passed away recently after an incredible 50-plus years at Columbia) told him that they might be looking for an newsman at a little local radio station called WEDC. Pat went in, read a few things for the Program Director, and was hired to work from midnight until 6 a.m. doing an hourly five-minute “rip and read” newscast (you ripped it off the newswires and read it as was). In 1968, Pat left Columbia after only three years, joined the U.S. Army, and was promptly sent to Vietnam. After a few months as a finance clerk, he was transferred into Armed Forces Radio and given the morning show on AFVN in Saigon where he yelled, “Good Morning, Vietnam!” for a year and a half. He finished his military career at the Pentagon in 1970.After his discharge in late 1970, Pat stayed in Washington trying to find radio or TV work. With no success on the broadcasting front, he again found himself working as a desk clerk, this time at the Madison Hotel in downtown D.C. Finally, a friend told him that he knew someone who owned a radio station in Murray, Kentucky, and maybe he would hire Pat.So, in 1971, he became the nighttime disc jockey at a 250-watt station in Southeastern Kentucky. It took about a year for this 25-year-old to look around and come to the conclusion that his career was not exactly “taking off”. So he packed up his belongings and headed to the nearest big city, which happened to be Nashville, Tennessee.

Despite interviewing at virtually every radio and television station in town, Pat found himself (again!) as a desk clerk at a local motel. He continued to visit the local broadcasting outlets and was finally hired by the local NBC television affiliate, WSM.

He spent five years at Channel 4 as everything from an anonymous staff announcer to a talk-show host, to a disc jockey at their sister radio station, but it was as a weatherman that Pat was getting the most on-air exposure.

In Los Angeles, KNBC-TV was looking for a weatherman in 1977, and they spotted Pat in Nashville and hired him to be their full-time weatherman. He worked both the early and late newscasts, as well as a local weekend talk show called “The Sunday Show”. One of those who sat home and watched was Merv Griffin. He called in 1981 and asked whether Pat would be interested in taking over for Chuck Woolery, who was leaving “Wheel of Fortune” a daytime game show on NBC, after seven years as host.

While Pat had done a few other game show pilots, most notably for Ralph Edwards and Mark Goodson, he never felt completely comfortable in the role. Assuming that “Wheel” probably had a year or two left in it, he agreed to step in. His assessment of its longevity proved to be off by a couple of decades. The nighttime version of the show went on the air in September 1983, and it has been the Number One program in syndicated television ever since. In 1989, Pat began doing a late-night talk show on CBS. While it ran less than a year and a half, he calls it the most enjoyable 18 months of his career. It was during the run of that show that he met Lesly Brown, who became his wife on New Year’s Eve of 1989. They have two children.

Pat has three Emmys, a Peoples’ Choice Award and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.