I am a mild fan of Survivor, and the reality TV genre in general. Truth be told, I enjoy reading analysis of these shows more than actually watching them, most of the time. Rob Cesternino seems to have carved out a comfortable niche for himself as a podcaster for this specific audience. He is a past player, and I suspect that most of his audience is familiar with him.
During the season, Robhasawebsite.com seems to be part of the rotation that all the contestants do interviews with as they are ousted. (Or, more accurately, as their ousters are aired.) Those interviews are tightly constrained by time and non-disclosure agreements; the routine of a contestant doing several interviews in a few short hours leads to a “canned” feel to all these interviews, in which a contestant repeats key points in every interview.
By doing a follow-up interview after the season, Rob is able to explore topics in depth in a way that was not possible during the season. Of course, every guest has different perspective that they bring to the table. Some will have listened or read interviews by their competition, and some will not. But the one element that shone through for this reviewer was that each contestant was playing at a level beyond what was presented to us as viewers. Where we are presented with Boolean choices that the contestants made in “contestant should go with A or B, chose B, and it directly led to the loss;” the contestants explain how perhaps the first path was not left open to them by the actions of “person A” even as “person A” may have earlier bemoaned how that did not come to pass. This insight makes the whole exercise worthwhile to me.
The exercise is helped because Rob is a good interviewer. He is able to build a connection with the subject and then step back and let him or her tell their own story. While the choice is certainly available to bring in the “he said/she said” dynamic in questioning the guest, and it would certainly bring some value in bringing forth conflict, Rob’s style lends itself to more opening up of the interviewee. In my opinion, this leads to more exposition on the whole game.
The drawback is that this was a long podcast. Two-and-a-half hours long! I actually listened to it as I was attempting to read a book; I woke up with a Kobo-shaped imprint on my forehead and a crick in my neck. I recommend this podcast if you have the time, and you are a fan of the genre. If you are a fan, in fact, I recommend the entire website.