Before my family owned a television, two of our favorite radio shows were Dr. IQ and The Quiz Kids.

Dr. IQ, which aired Monday nights on NBC until 1950 was probably the nation’s first radio quiz show. People from all over the United States won cash for answering questions posed by Dr. IQ, “the Mental Banker.”

The show was sponsored by Mars Inc., the company that made my two favorite candy bars — Snickers and Milky Way. The show was broadcast live from movie theaters in large cities across the country.

After the movie was over, Dr. IQ would come on stage, and several assistants carrying microphones would fan out through the audience. An assistant would choose a contestant and announce that fact to Dr. IQ, and he would tell the contestant that he would give 10 or more silver dollars if the contestant could answer the question he posed.

The amount of money would vary depending on the difficulty of the question. If the contestant missed the question, he or she would get a box of mixed candy bars and a couple of movie tickets.

In addition to the questions, I remember that there was an almost impossible tongue-twister that almost all of the contestants failed to repeat correctly. To correctly repeat the tongue-twister was difficult because Dr. IQ said it only once, and then the contestant had to repeat it.

My favorite was the Biography Game, which was worth 75 silver dollars. In this game contestants were given a clue about a favorite person, and if they guessed the name of the person after the first clue, he/she would win the 75 dollars. The amount decreased, however, with each clue.

The Quiz Kids was sponsored by Alka-Seltzer, and was hosted by genial Joe Kelly. When we lived in the city and my dad and I took our Sunday afternoon walks in good weather, we often met Mr. Kelly fishing near the breakwater in Lake Michigan. My dad and Mr. Kelly had been friends for many years, so we would chat with him for a while before he had to get to the radio station for the show.

The show aired in the late afternoon. I was a weekly listener and always tried to answer the questions asked by Mr. Kelly. There were five contestants, all under 16, and they were very knowledgeable, especially a boy named Joel Kupperman who won most of the time. The five contestants were chosen on the basis of their academic interests, intelligence, and personality, and the contestants appeared to be neither egocentric nor smarmy.

Each week only the top three scorers would remain on the show, and the other two would be replaced by two other super-bright boys or girls for the next show. When a contestant turned 16, he/she would no longer be able to participate. Winning players were awarded $100.

There was an opportunity for listeners to stump the contestants. If the question a listener submitted could not be answered by the players, the listener would win a prize like a floor model radio.

These smart radio shows got me interested in being an in-home participant on television quiz shows like College Bowl and the $64,000 Question in the years to come.

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