Hillary Howard is an award-winning Radio and TV reporter who has worked in Washington for more than 20 years.
She has a Journalism degree from New York University, and has won several Emmys for writing, reporting and weathercasting, as well as Regional Murrow, SPJ and AP awards at WTOP. A story on a local environmental crisis earned her a finalist spot in the NY Film and TV festivals. She was also honored with a national Imagen Award for a story impacting the Hispanic community.
Hillary became the permanent host of the Washington D.C. edition of It's Academic in September, 2011, following the retirement of long-time quizmaster Mac McGarry. Her warmth, intellectual curiosity, and interest in young people made her an immediate hit with teachers, students and viewers.
In addition to her work in media communications, Hillary does volunteer work with the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation -- an organization that provides support for the families of Firefighters killed in the line of duty.
She enjoys travel and athletics, and has rafted West Virginia’s New River, the Grand Canyon, Utah’s Green River and the Tatshenshini in SE Alaska.
Hillary, her husband and son live in Northern Virginia.
Dave Zahren is now in his 8th season as host of Baltimore's version of It's Academic, airing on WJZ-TV.
In addition to hosting It's Academic, Dave Zahren is the Senior Television Instructional Specialist with the Prince George's County, Maryland Public Schools' Office of Television Resources. Over the past twenty-five years, he has written, produced, and hosted award-winning science and public affairs programs including "Give Science a Hand"; "Science Bowl", and “Under the Microscope.”
Dave is a cum laude graduate with a B.S. degree from the University of Pittsburgh and has an M.A. degree in school administration and human relations from George Washington University. He spent three years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya, and in 1985, was selected as Maryland's Teacher in Space candidate. He was one of 100 teachers chosen from the 40,000 applicants nationwide to vie for a flight aboard the space shuttle Challenger.
Dave has received a number of awards, including the CINE Golden Eagle, for his work as a science teacher, a television host and producer, and a space educator. He continues to produce and host public television programs with the Office of Television and Web Resources in Prince George's County. In addition, he is in his 21st year as a weather forecaster at WJLA-ABC 7/News Channel 8, the ABC affiliate in Washington, DC.
Mac McGarry: Our Original Host
Maurice James "Mac" McGarry hosted the Washington area It's Academic for half a century, from our first telecast in 1961 until his retirement in 2011. He was also quizmaster for the Baltimore area "It's Academic" for 34 years.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1926, he was a graduate of Regis High School and Fordham University in New York City. Mac joined NBC radio in 1950, and one of his first assignments was introducing President Truman's remarks from the White House at the start of the Korean War. He soon became a mainstay of local Washington television.
As host of It's Academic, Mac McGarry appeared in over 3,300 matches, reading about 400,000 questions to more than 19,000 student contestants.
When Mac died in December of 2013, tributes from his friends and colleagues included this statement from "It's Academic" Executive Producer Susan Altman:
"Mac McGarry made It's Academic what it is today. He was our host for 50 years, and was probably the only quiz show host in television history who would occasionally burst into song in the middle of the show. And what you saw on TV was the real Mac McGarry---funny, smart, knowledgeable and a joy to work with. He was a Washington institution, and he set the standard---not just professionally, but as a human being as well. All of us who knew and worked with Mac will miss him."