by Kathleen Scalise
Television's "Wheel of Fortune" tapped the Cal Band to provide spirit for its college bowl week, airing locally now through Nov. 16. And Berkeley senior Tricia Yeh is one of the contestants.
"Once a year we feature college students from all over the country," said "Wheel of Fortune" promotions manager Lisa Dee. "We get millions and millions of applications to participate, but we can only pick 12 kids."
The band had inside connections in Dee, a Berkeley humanities graduate ('88), who just couldn't see filming a college bowl segment in San Francisco and not inviting the Cal Band.
Yeh, however, had to get in on her own. When selecting contestants, "it's sort of like getting into Berkeley," said Dee. "You look at the test scores, how they play the game and some of the intangibles."
A double major in political science and economics, Yeh dropped her application in a box outside the ASUC and was subsequently called for an Oct. 19 audition in San Francisco, where her game skills were tested.
"Wheel of Fortune' looks like a very simple game," said Dee, "but like any game it has its nuances. We want kids who really know how to play the game, who really know when to buy a vowel."
Yeh, 21, admits to having been quite a fan of "Wheel of Fortune" in earlier days. She did well on her audition "tests," mock rounds of the game. As for her "intangibles," she describes herself as "an enthusiastic, outgoing person."
"It was definitely an experience," she said. "The wheel itself is amazing. I strained my rotator cuff trying to spin that thing."
Yeh's story doesn't have a happy ending. "I really had bad, bad luck," she said. "My very first spin I hit (the) bankrupt (spot)." From there it was all down hill.
Though "Wheel of Fortune" won't reveal who won college week, Dee admits another "well-known" Bay Area university made it to the finals.
As consolation for Yeh, she received "probably the most random, the most hilarious parting gift," she said, including $25 worth of goat's milk.
"I'm going to host a goat milk party," she said. "My friend has a recipe for goat milk ice cream."
Inside tip: The Nov. 21 round of the college bowl has Pat Sajak flipping letters and Vanna hosting for the first time ever. Pat lost his voice during the taping, said Dee.