'Survivor' of the fittest

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"Regular people are fat!"

Maybe I am irregular. That's me in the corner, huddled on the WKMG-Channel 6 couch with some of Central Florida's frequency-modulating radio crowd -- none of whom, surprisingly, are fat -- awaiting a promised press conference with "Survivor" nonsurvivor Gretchen Cordy. The "regular people" comment pours out of the Arbitron-friendly mouth perforating Darby of Magic 107's face.

OK, we're watching "The Price Is Right." Big generalizations (especially big-people generalizations) come easy when there's nothing else to say, it seems. But the empty derision is not sitting well with some of the other radioheads. Suffice it to say, they all know each other.

"That's not nice, Darby!" offers a more level Gloria from WJRR with a PC wince, as Bob's babes parade across their requisite showcases and flutter their eyes and lips at their as-yet-unpriced heating pads and arthritis creams. Ailment is everywhere in TV land, and, appropriately, it's radio's job to soundtrack it.

Me, I'm just in awe of the vapidity produced on a couch full of faces made for radio. My photographer drinks a Red Bull to nurse his fading interest, and there's instantly some wide discussion of energy drinks as a whole, placebo effects and battling, well, disinterest -- in between subtle insincerities like "Congratulations on your numbers!"

Radio people are stupid.

Reality sets in

Gretchen Cordy, however, is not. She's accepted a banner gig from the fine folk at the local CBS affiliate, WKMG; she's going to be a weekly news commentator on the comings and goings (or is it just goings?) of the ill-fated, better-bodied contestants on Survivor: The Australian Outback. Hoopla is deserved, considering the ratings coup of last year's first installment of the reality gong show, and WKMG has duly constructed a mini "Survivor" soundstage from which Gretchen is to pontificate. She survived. She knows. Wait a minute, wasn't she kicked off on episode 7?

Indeed she was, as we soon find out from a blaring video-screen production akimbo the thematically inspired lunchy barbecue wares -- wet meat obviously provided to whet our media savvy appetites. Baked beans, likewise, don't sit well with the radio people.

"Don't sit next to me," jokes Gloria.


The tribal festivities do their best to kick in ... almost, anyway. Our introduction to the remarkably approachable Gretchen (including a video trip to the outback to meet the latest castaways and their insect, alligator and koala threats) is swiftly interrupted by a live-feed situation for the noon news. Some swish-haired TV type called Frank takes the mock stage for a little bit of rehearsed self-celebration, offering the occasional stiff-lipped disarm -- the sort you might expect from a swish-haired TV type named Frank -- and Gretchen feigns her amusement.

"Is that what you're going to ask?" she pans.

"Ha, ha, ha," he pots.

Through thick and thin

An "Access Hollywood" princess looms in the corner, while the machine adopts its "roughin' it" hue. More talk about fat people ensues around the round table, and the topic of discussion veers to the weight-conscious Richard Simmons and his unlikely paunch.

"He's pudging out," offers our weight-conscious Darby, Diet Coke in hand. "Me, I stick to the salads."


The friendly creative director approaches with the expected query of, "Would you like to talk to Gretchen?"

I stumble a bit, realizing that I don't so much have questions for the real-person star of a reality-based television show that I really didn't watch as I do have questions for radio people with premises based on surfing externalized consciousness and judging all the way to the bank.

"Um, yeah," I offer.

So we're on.

"I love your hair," gawks Gretchen, um, like Sisqo and his thong did. "I feel like I'm sitting next to Greg!"

Greg, it seems, was the one with a propensity for peroxide -- a blonded kin. The difference being that I would never go without. Without anything.

"So, do you think that this whole new 'Survivor' is more of a marketing ploy, seeing as the ads place a new cast of Hooters girls and bartenders against the poisonous threats of the Australian outback?"

Nice Gretchen responds, "Yeah, we're the fat and ugly old people representing the first season."

I love her. She's not fat.

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