Alumnus wins big in Jeopardy and life

Joshua Brakhage (BA ’04) is a lover of humanities. He’s fascinated with languages, religion, music, his TV news job and last but certainly not least his fiancée, Suzy. (They met at an art museum.) Brakhage aspires to better understand the world around him and practice lifelong learning — a challenge he readily accepted at TU. Originally from South Coffeyville, Okla., Brakhage tailored his communication major for a future in broadcasting.

Brakhage-on-Jeopardy“I was fascinated by television and radio from an early age,” he said. “My sister and I recorded an imaginary radio show, a superhero/crime mystery series. I’m not sure if any of those tapes still exist, and that may be for the best.”

TU provided the avenue for Brakhage to pursue his budding broadcast career along with many other disciplines. He took music theory courses while exploring Christianity, Judaism and Islam; visited exhibits in the Alexandre Hogue Gallery; and watched plays in Kendall Hall. In addition to four years at TUTV, he also interned and worked as a freelancer for Tulsa’s CBS affiliate, KOTV.

“My experience in the newsroom informed my lessons in the classroom,” he said. “One of the highlights was my senior project — a documentary on the ‘death’ of the original Captain Cane.”

Those investigative reporting skills led to a full-time job at KOTV; and 12 years later, Brakhage is executive producer of evening newscasts.

“We harness the power of language in an effort to tell powerful, compelling stories within the confines of journalism,” he said.

In 2012, Brakhage tested his trivia skills on the game show, Jeopardy! After five impressive wins, he was invited to the 2014 Tournament of Champions and finished in the semi-finals.

“Jeopardy! requires a broad knowledge of the humanities,” he said. “Just to survive my first game, I had to answer questions about 15th century history, English grammar, Cary Grant movies and Jane Austen novels.”

Later this year, Brakhage will marry a fellow language and communication expert who shares his interests in religion and thought-provoking conversations.

“The humanities play a pivotal role in shaping the way we think about identity, ethics and memory,” he said. “Language, spoken and otherwise, is a forest I explore with enthusiasm.”