Bingham "Kentucky Joe"
Survivor Rodger Bingham
says rural roots helped him cope
County native will speak
at Carroll Chamber banquet
Helen E. McKinney
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 Commerces 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.
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 bachelors
and a masters 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 fathers 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 fathers death in November 1969, the board of directors
at the Bank of Crittenden offered Pierce Binghams 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
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
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 wasnt 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 youre faced with starvation,
other things really dont matter.
This experience has brought about a new realization in his
life, he said. Ive got to see a lot of the country and meet
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, Shriners 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 chambers 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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