WCFM starts airing ’Survivor,’ Eph-style

Alliances, tribal councils and maybe even the eating of some gross food will return to the airwaves this week as the second installment of WCFM’s “Survivor” show debuts Feb. 21 at 9 p.m. “Take Our Word For It Survivor: Ben’s House,” a radio adaptation of the CBS hit reality show, will feature 13 current students and one alumnus as castaways, competing for a top prize of $500 cash.

The show was adapted for WCFM by the staff of the news/variety show “Take Our Word For It.” Topher Goggin ’02, who will serve as the emcee of the program, also did most of the production work.

“Though I was very happy with last year’s ‘Survivor,’ I really think that this year’s show is going to blow [last year’s] out of the water,” said Goggin. “We learned a lot last time and made some adjustments that should make this season even more exciting.”

“The combination of selecting a much more diverse group of survivors, moving the bulk of the competition outdoors, and recording twice as much audio have allowed us to put together a much more suspenseful final product this year,” Goggin said. “With only two recording sources last year, it was almost impossible to create any misdirection with the audio production. This season you won’t be absolutely sure who will be voted off next until the actual votes are read.”

The rules for WCFM’s “Survivor” closely follow those of the television game, although the game occurs in a much more condensed format. The contest – recorded during the first Sunday of Winter Study – takes place over roughly eight hours of real time. Each radio episode will correspond to 30-45 minutes of the day. The location for this year’s contest is the Adams, Mass., backyard of Ben Chaffee ’02, Goggin’s radio partner and one of the lead “Survivor” announcers. One of the competing tribes will be headquartered in the Chaffee family’s garage, the other on their back deck.

Last Thursday, Goggin and Chaffee officially revealed the list of castaways and launched a new web site at http://survivor.williams.edu with biographies, sound clips, and other information about the game. This year’s Survivors are:

The Arla Tribe: Brandi Brown ’04, Adam Cole ’03, Rina Davis ’05, James Kingsley ’02, Pat McCurdy ’02, Terri O’Brien ’02 and Ari Schoenholtz ’05.

The Pencer Tribe: Shamus Brady ’02, Brooks Foehl ’88 (who works in the development office), Julia Karoly ’03, Kate Leonard ’03, Jed Mularski ’02, Drew Newman ’04 and Rachel Seltman ’04.

“We couldn’t be happier with our group of castaways,” commented Chaffee, who helped Goggin make the selections.

“One of our major goals was that every student on campus would know at least one of the survivors, and I think we came pretty close to accomplishing that. We’ve really got a tremendous variety of people – everybody from a football captain to a debater to an employee of the college to one guy who put on his application that he was the co-president of the Williams College Urban Jedi Society. It’s a really interesting mix of personalities, and I think the audience will be very interested to see how they all interact.”

According to Goggin, major upgrades have been made to the Williams “Survivor” web site to enhance the experience for listeners. As before, fans will be able to download .mp3 files of aired episodes, read exclusive behind-the-scenes secrets that don’t make it on the air, and chat about the game in an interactive WSO forum. The major addition this year will be video clips of many of the immunity challenges and Tribal Councils.

“We thought it would make a huge difference if listeners could actually see video of some of the things they’re hearing on the radio to make the audio broadcast a little more complete. It won’t be a lot, probably 30-60 seconds of footage each week, but I think it will really add to the show,” said Goggin.

“Take Our Word For It Survivor: Ben’s House” will air Thursday nights at 9 p.m., with most episodes lasting about 30 minutes (slightly longer than last year to utilize the extra recorded audio). Plans are in the works for a live gathering in May for the final episode and announcement of the $500 winner.

“The strategic play of this year’s group, combined with some twists and turns they have to deal with along the way, should make this series very interesting,” Goggin said. “As events unfolded while we were recording, Ben, lead announcer Mark [Robertson ’02] and I kept telling each other that it was going to make for really intriguing radio. I just hope that the finished product is as exciting to listen to as the action was to watch while we were there recording it.”

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