Its’ been another exciting year at Survivor Oz HQ growing on the success of the last 12 months, with plenty of noteworthy happenings. 2014 has brought us two of the most interesting new seasons to watch back-to-back, and Survivor Oz has embraced the challenge of bringing you more content, clocking up more than 600 hours of audio content for your ears to process as well as countless articles and everything else in between! Our Queensland Ozlet, Julian Groneberg takes a trip down memory lane, recapping some of the biggest interviews and announcements of a record breaking year!
2014 at Survivor Oz introduced new segments, and plenty of new faces. There has been no shortage of things to talk about in the reality world with two new seasons of Survivor and the Amazing Race – one locally produced pitting Australia against New Zealand, as well as CBS’s 25th edition.
Add that to Big Brother Australia coverage and you can see that Ben and his Ozlets (ARZlets and Big Brother ‘BRO-lets’) have been spectacularly busy over the last 365 days! This year our 3rd annual Ozcar winners were announced which it’s safe to say generated much dissent among some listeners, but was our most successful year ever! We won our first podcasting award in 2014, made it to number one on iTunes not once but FOUR times and brought your more than 40 new player interviews as well as special guests on our episode recaps and other special interviews and exit interviews for the very first time!
That’s in addition to the regular weekly, Top 10s and Monday’s always thought provoking special features, plus the new segment of Random Episode of the Week introduced in 2014 courtesy of our Ozlet Clifton Gibbons.
We’ve also had a number of phone in guests on special episodes, and special interviews episodes in 2014. Let’s take a look at some of our biggest happenings of 2014 in greater detail!
2014 kicked of with separate interviews of two of the most talked about contestants on the first edition of Blood Vs Water – Brad Culpepper and Monica Culpepper followed up soon thereafter by Tina Wesson and daughter Katie Collins. Just before the end of the month we brought you the results of one of our biggest polls outside of the Ozcars, the top 25 one time Survivor players, which brought more than 350 submissions and more than 118 contestants voted for as the best one time player. It’s safe to say, in the Top 25 we would love to see all of these play again!
In early February we brought you more of the Blood versus Water interviews, speaking to the controversial Colton Cumbie as well as his late boyfriend Caleb Bankston, in what would tragically be one of the last Survivor related interviews he would give. We also spoke to the always insightful Rupert Boneham and his lovely wife Laura Boneham about their stint on Blood versus Water, and as the excitement and anticipation of the 28th season of Cagayan reached fever pitch, we had one of our best winner interviews ever with Philippines winner, Denise Stapley. This was in addition to our as well insightful accounts of their survivor experiencing with Caramoan contestant Shamar Thomas, and Exile Island contestants Aras Baskauskas. We also created a bit of history as we completed 100% of an entire season for the first time with interviews as we spoke to Jason Siska from Micronesia and therefore completed a ‘full set’ of interviews from the 16th season! Cagayan: Brains vs Beauty vs Brawn started with a double episode, kicking off what would be one of the most unpredictable, chaotic and exciting seasons ever! Diane Ogden from Survivor Africa sharing an insight into what’s it’s like being the first booted, in our first episode recap of the season.
March kicked off with more great interviews including the hot couple of Candice and John Cody where Candice set the record straight in an articulate and revealing interview telling Ben and other who lament her returning player status why she’s deserving of some respect. We harked back to the Tocantins with Sandy Burgin who would always be known for her earnest and endearing behaviour. The lovely Andrea Boehlke from Redemption Island and Caramoan rapped it out gangster style in her first Survivor Oz interview. We also welcomed a new batch of 13 Ozlets in March, with new Ozlets representing countries including Norway and Romania. Tina Scheer from Exile Island, Nina Acosta from One World, Redemption Island and Caramoan first boot Francesca Hogi and China contestant Leslie Nease all recapped the Cagayan episodes in March, including a recap when Ben was away conducted by the Ozlets where a couple of listeners got cranky for the bad recording quality!
We fooled fans for at least for an hour or two on the first of April with our April Fool’s Day prank claiming Survivor opened up casting to international applicants – something which even made the Australia’s national media in the round up of best April Fool’s pranks of the year! Outspoken Vanuatu contestant Mia Galeotalanza spoke to us early in April and well as an awesome interview from Kelly Goldsmith, now an associate professor and Survivor veteran since her appearance in Survivor Africa. Teresa Cooper – AKA T-Bird also brought back the Africa later in April with another great chat. We had a special interview with the Mom of Survivor Oz, Gillian Larson about her plans for organizing the 2014 reality rally, including reality contestants who were attending and some of the festivities to be included. April saw us getting deep into the post Merge phase and beautiful mess that was Cagayan, with recap coverage and Oztopsies, including Guatemala Guests, Amy O’Hara and Cindy Hall, Nicaragua contestant Marty Piomba, Vecepia, and R.C Saint Amour and Artis Silvester. Our ozlet and entertainment news writer extraordinaire, Lynda Phoa rounded up a massive month attending Reality Rally in California, and interviewing many famous faces including Tina Wesson and Richard Hatch!
As well as our third consecutive month of Cagayan coverage, we interviewed some of the biggest fans of Survivor in May, including super fan Colby Brown about his campaign to get on the show, and Survivor collector Lance Fittro about the Survivor Buff Collector Guide book he created. Ozlets, Paul, Clifton, Jarrod, Julian, Rossi, Bridget, Kristan, Ivan, Katelyn, Andrew and Joppe became even more official, recording their Ozlet introduction interviews and giving us an insight into how their obsessions with Survivor began. Our 2014 Ozcars opened for voting in May, as well as Cagayan recaps with Coach, and Katie and Tina and Fiji contestant Rita. Cagayan came to a close with Tony Vlachos being crowned the 28th Sole Survivor. The Survivor Cagayan report card that ranked players performance also drew the ire of some listeners, convinced many were ranked too highly or too low – with many claiming certain castaways were overrated.
The summer survivor off season brought the return of our in-depth Ozcar coverage. Finalists in 16 categories were announced, before the winners were revealed a week later. Among the winners for the 2014 year were Cagayan and Blood vs Water only categories where Spencer was named the biggest new hero, Kass the biggest new villain. Perhaps a surprise to some, but first boot Peter Harkey from Marquesas won the best coveted title of best Survivor Oz interview for the year. Cagayan caused recency bias claims as it was crowned the best of all time. Our original and alluring Ozlet Lancey Morris won the hearts and minds of the listening audiences, narrowly beating Noah to take out the title of Ozlet of the Year in 2014. Another announcement in June was reveal of our most downloaded interviews of the first half of the year. Greg Buis, Brian Heidik and Corrine Kaplan all kept the top three spots, however there a bunch of new entries in the top 50. We also interviewed none other than Russell Hantz in early June, who spoke about his reality show: Holding Hantz. This joined our first ever written interview where we finally spoke with Shawna from The Amazon. Tragically also in June, Blood versus Water contestant Caleb Bankston tragically died in a railroad accident, which sent shockwaves through the Survivor community, and especially sympathies for his partner, Colton.
A snapshot of Survivor Oz in 2014
The off-season continued in July with a bevvy of interviews, including South Pacific contestant Jim Rice. Soon after a very special World Cup Episode with fellow football fanatics, Coach, Ethan and Abbi Maria was recorded, as they talked Survivor and Soccer all in one episode! Reynold Toepfer, David Sampson, and Matt Von Ertfelda from the Amazon all completed interviews in early June, but then the big guns came out with a massive interviews from Tony Vlachos, fresh off his win in Cagayan, and the Survivor veteran, Marilyn ‘Mad Dog’ Hershey. Mid July we recorded our Ozcap for Cagayan which turned out to be one of our most explicit episodes, with nothing off limits – as well as some good discussions in the 3 hour recap about the fantastic season that was. Spencer and Trish from Cagayan and Julia from Caramoan also gave great interviews. But it was out first ever number one ranking that gained the most excitement around Survivor Oz HQ in June. This was followed soon after by the first ever Spin Off episode in our Amazing Race OZ: NZ vs AUS preview episode which would be the start of comprehensive coverage on the Amazing Race for the rest of the year!
In August we won our first ever award as Survivor Oz was named as best foreign website in the annual Czech and Slovak reality awards! Random episode of the week, a brand new weekly segment started in August which was brought our features department up to 3 in-depth Survivor articles weekly to add to our Top 10s and features. Jolanda Jones from Palau gave a cracker of an interview, and our Amazing race Oz coverage continued. Towards the end of August marked the 2nd anniversary of the Ozlets for which we recorded a special episode and recounted some of the crazier memories on the show, and which of the Ozlets have met up face-to-face, as well as their opinion on the new Ozlets.
After a quietish August, September marked the beginning of another massive month with extensive coverage of Survivor San Juan Del Sur, including our cast assessment and preview episode and predictions which turned out to be quite bizarre considering what played out. Another preview episode for our second Spin Off Show, Big Brother Oz was recorded previewing the 11th season of the reality juggernaut and Ben and Kristan sat down to speak about all things Big Brother. This would be the start of ongoing weekly Big Brother season 11 recaps, with “Bro-lets”, and former contestants including Michael Beverage, and season 3 and season 9 winners, Regina Sorenson and Ben Norris. Our Thailand commentaries were also periodically released, including insights from Tanya Vance for the season’s first two episodes. Then Ben and the Ozlet recorded an episode based around questions from our listeners in the Random Question Episode, which featured some very crude questions and very revealing answers, clocking in at almost 3 and a half hours! Survivor coverage stepped up again with our Power Rankings, Oztopsies and Episode Recaps for the new season, but it was the announcement of our weekly Exit Interviews that really stole the show. Staring in September, Survivor Oz (courtesy of CBS) gave listeners access to the latest castaways and exclusive interviews from those booted of San Juan Del Sur each week. There were also great interviews from the sexy Philippines contestant Pete Yurkowski, and the only original season player to return in the and post modern Survivor era, from Gervase Peterson, who spoke about the differences of playing the game 13 years apart. Oh, we also brought you the worst episode we have ever done with our Bringing Sexy Back special episode, but you had to get the joke from older episodes. Let’s not talk about it…
Noah and the ‘ARzlets’ started recapping the first episode of the 25th Season of the Amazing Race which began in early October. The ‘interesting’ gameplay of San Juan Del Sur was also explained in more detail from the early boots of the season in our weekly Exit Interviews. Candice and John Cody came back to us to recap their thoughts on the new season, joining recaps from fellow former BvW contestants in Rupert and Laura Boneham and One world players Troyzan Robinson and Kim Spradlin. The loveable southern fashion model Jeremiah Wood spoke to us in October about his time on Survivor, as well a major coup for the show, finally getting a winner with Africa Winner and Survivor icon, Ethan Zohn. Survivor OZ also turned 3 years old in October and we spoke to Gillian Larson for the second time this year to recount how she helped get the podcast started, before recapping episode six of San Juan Del Sur with fellow Gabon contestant and winner, Bob Crowley. Other interviews in October included Ruth Marie from Exile Island, and the very colourful Brice Johnson from Cagayan.
November continued our Big Brother, Amazing Race and Survivor coverage, with Noah recording a special mid season Amazing Race episode, but it was the highly anticipated interview with Cagayan’s villainess Kass McQuillen that made our longest interview ever. Kass didn’t hold back as we have come to expect and dished the dirt on her fellow castaways in what was a hilarious and insightful interview. If you listen to one Survivor Oz interview from this year, make sure this is it! RC and Craig Saint Amour continued our recaps of San Juan Del Sur, followed by fellow Philippines castaways (and dating couple) Pete Yurkowski and Abi Maria Gomez. Original Borneo contestants, Joel Klug and Gervase Peterson also returned to savage the latest season in our episode 9 San Juan Del Sur recap. Our Big Brother Oz coverage wrapped up in November, as the winner was crowned and we recapped with finale and season 11 with former winner Ben Norris. Fiji and Cook islands contestants and good friends of the show Rita Verreos and Billy Garcia finished off the month with the 10th episode recap of San Juan Del Sur.
To round out a very busy year, Penner and Coach gave us an awesome insight into their thoughts as we approached the tail end of San Juan Del Sur. Big Brother 2014 Fan favourite Priya Malik and Estelle Landy also gave us some bonus off season Big Brother coverage. December also saw the conclusion of the 29th season, in what would go down as a season that divided fans, but we wrapped it up in style with a ‘mini Thailand reunion by bringing you our finale recap featuring Brian Heidik, Clay Jordan, Helen Glover and Tanya Vance! We also recorded our Christmas episode with a bevvy of special guests where guests could phone in with several hours of Survivor fun and festivities and also wrapped up our Amazing Race coverage with Noah bringing you the finale recap episode of the Amazing Race Oz! There was also our San Juan Del Sur report card to close out a massive year on the show!
While this briefly covered 2014, there’s so much more content that hasn’t been mentioned, including weekly features written by our fantastic team of Ozlets, including the Top 10s which always sparked a healthy debate. Without the help of all the Ozlets we’d never be able to deliver 3 written features each week, and a special thank you must go out to Clifton for his thorough work producing the weekly recaps and random episodes of the week! Putting these each week in such detail is no easy feat. There are many other Ozlets that have helped out behind the scenes in detail so thank you all for your contributions – and of course to Noah and Kristan for their hard work with the Amazing race and Big Brother coverage which defined the expansion of the ‘OZ’ Brand in 2014!
Also a massive thanks to Ben for his continued dedicated work bringing you the latest interviews and access to the former contestants, helping to make Survivor Oz the biggest Survivor podcast on the planet!
That’s a wrap for 2014, but as always we look forward to our listeners tuning in 2015 for more excitement and announcements in what is set to be another exciting year of Survivor as we enter the 30th season of the ground-breaking reality show!
What has been your favourite moment from Survivor Oz in 2014? What are you looking forward to in 2015? Let us know below and stay tuned later this week as we bring you the top 10 top 10s for 2014 as well as our annual ‘best of’ podcast featuring highlights from EVERY single episode of the show this year!