Waterloo family to appear on Family Feud

The Shaffer sisters and cousin Bill Wirth pose with game show host Steve Harvey on the set of Family Feud. Pictured, from left, are Tammy Salger, Mary Beard, Kathy Warren, Harvey, Nancy Quernheim and Bill Wirth. (Courtesy of Family Feud)

The Shaffer family will bring new meaning to the name Family Feud when they appear on the classic TV game show on Friday, Feb. 17.

“All they kept telling us was, ‘You guys make good TV,’” Kathy Warren said.

Waterloo natives and sisters Warren, Nancy Quernheim, Mary Beard, Tammy Salger and cousin Bill Wirth were poised to give the performance of a lifetime when they finally received the call to go on stage in Atlanta, Ga., this past summer.

The family had been through the auditioning process for nearly six months after sending off a paper application that listed the top six reasons the Shaffer family should be on the Family Feud.

On top of that, they had auditioned in Kansas City, where they played a mock game, waiting three hours before being called up to participate. They were invited to a second round of auditions the same day.

“You just had to show your enthusiasm. They kept saying, ‘We know you know how to play the game. You just have to keep cheering and be excited,’” Warren said.

When chosen for the second round, the Shaffers became part of a covert mission in which a lady discreetly handed the family a piece of paper and said to find the lady in black, Quernheim recalled.

“We had to sound like idiots. We were so excited,” Beard said of being selected.

Throughout their audition, the Shaffer ladies took the approach of carrying pom-poms with them to show an unbridled energy. Wirth opted for clappers.

“We were trying to stand out from the crowd,” Wirth said. “No one had anything like it.”

For the actual taping of their performance, the family received an all-expenses-paid trip that included airfare, lodging and meals.

“They treated you royally,” Warren said. “They have wonderful staff. We have nothing negative to say.”

At the studio, the Shaffers had to behave covertly once more as they waited in a secluded area with several other families and no communication to the outside world — the studio confiscated cell phones.

“You couldn’t even go to the bathroom without someone to escort you,” Wirth said.

To pass the time, contestants talked, hung out and played games together with the understanding that someone may be sent home without getting a chance to film that day.

“You have no idea when your turn is,” Salger added.

As the studio filmed the Shaffers versus the Susini family, other challenges came to light that didn’t present themselves during auditions.

“It’s actually a lot harder than I imagined,” Wirth said. “You can’t hear very well, and you’re thinking, ‘What did the other team say?’”

“The huddle was the hardest,” Beard chimed.

On Family Feud, a team will huddle to brainstorm answers when the opponents have two of three strikes against them with guessing answers on the board for a particular category.

“You’re trying to think what you are going to say (when you’re in the huddle) and while you’re thinking, they’ll say (your answer),” Salger said.

“Truly, it’s a team effort,” Quernheim contributed.

Family Feud host Steve Harvey’s colorful banter and comical facial expressions also played a role in the family’s experience.

“He’s a very genuine person,” Beard said.

“It was the looks he would give a contestant, and just those little, bitty comments — you would laugh harder and harder at each one,” Warren said without getting into specifics.

The family returned home and people came out of the woodwork to ask them about their experience and congratulate them on making it onto the show.

“Now, you can’t go anywhere,” Wirth said. “I was at ‘Taste of the Region’ at Gibault (on Saturday). I couldn’t go 10 steps without someone stopping me.”

Tune in to KDNL at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17 to witness what Warren described as “sheer excitement.”

“And it wasn’t fake,” Beard expressed.

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