Rodger Bingham "Kentucky Joe"

CBS’ ‘Survivor’ Rodger Bingham
says rural roots helped him cope

Grant County native will speak
at Carroll Chamber banquet

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

CARROLLTON, Ky. (August 2002) – How did “Kentucky Joe” Rodger Bingham survive all those weeks in the Australian Outback with a bunch of whiny “kids” and bossy adults telling him what to do – and all with the CBS-TV cameras rolling?
Find out Aug. 13 when the popular “survivor” speaks at the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet. The dinner and silent auction is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. (EDT-fast time) at the Conference Center at Gen. Butler State Resort Park.

Rodger Bingham

Rodger Bingham

A former banker and school teacher, Bingham is best known today for his role on CBS’ “Survivor II: The Australian Outback.” Long before his appearance on the hit show, he had cultivated certain survival skills that have helped him succeed at many things.
Bingham was born in Covington, Ky., where he followed in the footsteps of his forefathers by being a fourth-generation Kentuckian to reside in Crittenden, Ky.
He studied education at Eastern Kentucky University, receiving a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Industrial Arts. Always one to make ends meet, Bingham would hitchhike home on weekends to work at a local gas station and raise tobacco on his father’s farm.
“I had originally planned to teach,” said Bingham, 55. Presently, he is on a two-year leave of absence but said he enjoys teaching so much that he plans to return to the classroom again.
While a junior at EKU, Bingham married his wife of more then 33 years, Patricia. Their only child, Angela, was born in 1971.
After his father’s death in November 1969, the board of directors at the Bank of Crittenden offered Pierce Bingham’s job as bank CEO to Rodger, even though the son had no experience. Bingham remained in this position with the bank for a decade.
In 1987 he was able to fulfill his teaching goal by becoming an Industrial Arts teacher at Grant County High School. A self-described workaholic, he has been a part-time farmer, owner of Crittenden Lumber Co., developer of Grant Mobile Home Park, as well as investing in other real estate enterprises.
Since birth Bingham has been a member of the Crittenden Christian Church, holding such positions as deacon, Sunday School teacher, superintendent, chairman of the board, and elder. His son-in-law, Kevin Hedenberg, said, “Rodger Bingham is an integral part of the Crittenden Christian Church who has earned much respect and adoration by his fellow church family members.”
When the first “Survivor” show aired in spring 2000, Bingham was immediately interested in becoming a contestant. He submitted a three-minute video to TV executives explaining why he should be chosen. His daughter also submitted a video but wasn’t chosen.
With 49,000 applicants, competition was stiff. Bingham said of this experience, “I gave it my best shot. I have no regrets.”
Bingham said his mindset changed the second day he was there. As the show progressed, he said he and the other contestants reflected a lot on things we take for granted. “When you’re faced with starvation, other things really don’t matter.”
This experience has brought about “a new realization” in his life, he said. “I’ve got to see a lot of the country and meet nice people.”
Bingham travels frequently to fulfill his many speaking engagements. In the shows aftermath, he said he has been all over the United States and to Canada three times. He said he feels a sense of responsibility to participate in charity events and speak at church groups, school functions, Shriner’s groups and fairs.
He said he usually speaks “about what it took for me to get on the show.” He will be bringing to the banquet a tape made by Channel 12 News of Cincinnati. He will also hold a question-and-answer period.
Ticket for the prime rib and chicken buffet are $25 per person and can be purchased up until the day of the event, said chamber president Greg Goff. Tickets are available through the chamber office, through its board members or at the door. Call (502) 732-7034.
A silent auction will be held with various items donated from local merchants. Proceeds will benefit the chamber’s scholarship program. Awards will be presented for community service, industry of the year, business of the year, and a beautification award. Goff said Bingham was chosen to speak at this event because “we were looking for someone close but with national popularity, and he fit the bill.”

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