When Kim Speicher, of Loyalsock Township, auditioned for the "Wheel of Fortune" television game show, she never expected to actually appear on the program. To her delight, after making it through several rounds of auditions, she was called in for a taping.
Her show will air at 7 p.m. next Monday on WBRE, a local NBC affiliate.
Speicher, who teaches dental hygiene at Pennsylvania College of Technology, first auditioned for the game show in May, when the "Wheel Mobile Bus" was in Wilkes-Barre.
Kim Speicher, right, of Loyalsock Township, poses for a photo with Vanna White outside the “Wheel of Fortune” headquarters in California.
"My friend, Cheryl Newburg, and I went down to audition together. We thought it would be fun to try and get on the show," Speicher said. "But so many people go to each audition, I never imagined I'd end up actually playing."
When Speicher went to audition, she said hundreds of people were waiting as well. The first round of auditions lasted throughout the weekend.
Hopefuls provided their contact information on a slip of paper, which then was placed in a big, rolling drum and pulled out, lottery-style.
"They called up a certain number of names onto the stage. They were looking for enthusiasm and knowledge of the game - to make sure we could actually solve the puzzles and knew how to play," she said.
"There was a little pretend stage and they called us all up and gave us a brief interview. They wanted to see how we would interact with the stand-in 'host' that they had," she added.
Both Newburg and Speicher were called in for a final round of auditions, which were held in July in Wilkes-Barre.
About 65 people participated in each audition, which was held in two rounds. Hopeful contestants tried to solve puzzles that were shown on a large computer screen, then took a five-minute, written test.
From 65, the hopeful contestants were whittled down to 18. The remaining group was told they would be contacted within two weeks if they had made the final cut.
"They called me and left a message on my answering machine, asking if I could come to Los Angeles for my taping in two weeks. I was so excited I was jumping up and down all around the house," Speicher said.
Speicher traveled with her husband, Tom, and daughter, Katie, to California for the taping. The family stayed in a nearby hotel where most "Jeopardy" and "Wheel of Fortune" contestants stay.
Speicher had to report to the show headquarters for her taping at 7:15 a.m.
"We were told to bring two different outfits, just in case the producers didn't like one," Speicher said.
The contestants had their makeup done by a professional team of artists, but their hair was left natural, according to Speicher.
"My daughter got excited because of the makeup lady. My makeup turned out very nice, very natural. But I thought it was odd because no one ever did our hair," she said
She then met with lawyers, filled out paperwork and was briefed on exactly how to spin the 2,500-pound wheel.
"That moment when I first saw the wheel was a pivotal moment to me. It
finally sunk in that I was really there and I was really going to be on the show," she said.
The studios tape five to six shows a day, and Speicher's taping was first.
"I was hoping not to go first, so I could see how other people did and get acclimated. But it worked out all right," she said.
"I was worried that the audience would make me nervous, but once they turn the lights on, the set, the wheel, Vanna and Pat are all you can really see," she said.
Speicher wasn't allowed to tell the Sun-Gazette the outcome of her show, as it hasn't aired yet. She did say that playing the game was "the fastest 22 minutes of my life."
For more on Speicher's experiences on the "Wheel of Fortune," check out www.wheeloffortune.com/contestants/contestantblogs. She will post two blogs for the show - one will be online a few days before Sept. 24 and the other, after her show airs.