Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I know not everyone understands, as I do, the profound artistic value of reality TV.  (Ahem.)  But even if you're not usually a fan, you might consider watching Survivor when the next season premieres after the Super Bowl.

One of the contestants, Ben Wade, has a fascinating history.  As a youth, he won an international trumpet competition, and he played with the New York Metropolitan Opera and two symphonies by age 17.  In 1996, he took a little kayaking trip from Mexico to Columbia...over 6,000 miles, a world record-breaking distance.

After his kayaking trip, he became a college soccer coach.  His cumulative record (at various schools) is 147-14-13.  These days Ben lives in Missouri, coaching at Southwest Baptist University.  However, he also spends a lot of time in Susanville, California.  Ben coached in Susanville before moving to Missouri.

He also started a symphony in Susanville.  The population of Susanville was under 15,000 in the 2000 census.  The symphony has incredible community support, and since moving to Missouri, Ben has continued to travel back to Susanville to conduct.  He even composed a symphony, which was debuted by the Susanville Symphony in 2005.

Since the symphony's debut in 2002, the tympani player has been retired Army General Dick Bendix.  Dick is now 81 and continues to play, in addition to serving on the symphony's board.  He and his wife Leah Faye are very close to Ben, acting somewhat as surrogate parents when he is in town.  Lucky him--they are pretty great parents.  I should know, since Leah Faye is The Engineer's mother, and Dick is his stepfather.

I've only met Ben once, but have heard my parents-in-law sing his praises for years.  I haven't watched much Survivor since the second season, but I'll be glued to the TV this year!


Eternal Lizdom said...

It's almost like you are famous!

Hubby and I are big Survivor fans... we watch every season. So I'll keep my eye on Ben for sure!!

silver star said...

I think I know how you feel, last year's American Idol was kinda like that for me. I never watched the show before that, but I knew of 2 of the contestants before the show, so I watched. One performed a few times at my job, and I had seen the other perform in various bands for about 5 years before that. While one of them was only on the show for a few weeks, the other was David Cook (last year's winner). It's a good feeling to see someone you knew about before the show win, so lots of luck to Ben!

Lyndsay said...

Beth, that is SO COOL! I watch so little TV lately, but I'll make it a point to try and caatch survivor this season!

Tia said...

I am a huge fan so I will be watching. It is cool that I now know someone who knows someone!

beckiwithani said...

That's very cool!

Did you see that his wikipedia page was deleted?

C. Beth said...

More personal comments later, but--

Becki--Interesting, I saw it as being promotional but not really advertising. I didn't read the whole thing though. Hmm. It was active as of 9:23 last night.

Becky said...

Very cool! Unfortunately, I won't have time to watch but that's very interesting that you know someone. I hope he wins!

I remember when your brother-in-law was on Jeopardy, too. I don't think I know anyone that's been on national TV!

Jenners said...

Neat! I'm planning to watch ... after a 6 or 8 season break, we watched this past season and it seemed good again. I hope he does well but doesn't get "corrupted" by the process!

C. Beth said...

Liz--I don't know him well but think he's probably really suited to the show.

Sara--That is SO cool!! David Cook is awesome!

Lyndsay--Yay! It really can be an addictive show, but at other times I've started watching and not gotten into it...seems to depend on the season.

Tia--Yay, someone else wathcing!

Becky--I'm still hoping my sister will end up on Jeopardy! someday!

Jenners--I hope not too. Although my guess is, the contestants who seem to be "corrupted" are actually just showing their true colors, that they managed to hide for a few weeks.... I don't really know him, so I'm not sure what his true colors are! :)

becky s said...

Oh, cool! I spent my first year of college at SBU.