'Survivor: Edge of Extinction': Why Jeff Probst is the godfather of TV show hosts

Jeff Probst, 54, returns with season 38 of ‘Survivor’ titled ‘Edge of Extinction’ on Wednesday, February 20 on CBS


                            'Survivor: Edge of Extinction': Why Jeff Probst is the godfather of TV show hosts

In 1997, before the Real Housewives started throwing drinks at each other, before hip-hop artists started pulling each other’s wigs off, and before people found the joy in keeping up with the Kardashians, CBS had sent a group of strangers to an isolated island and got them to fight for survival. It was revolutionary at the time and, after 22 years, the formula has stood the test of time. While the contestants, competitions and the exotic locations have all contributed to the show’s success, we would argue that one aspect of ‘Survivor,’ the host and executive producer Jeff Probst, has been the biggest factor.

There are hosts and there are hosts who are as important as the show itself, and Probst is one of the latter. In fact, we would argue that he is the Godfather when it comes to being a television host. Spanning over 37 seasons on CBS, ‘Survivor’ is by far one of the longest-running reality TV shows of all time. During this period, Probst has come up with and fine-tuned great catchphrases, while playing a fair, firm and fastidious referee.

One of the things that make Probst a great host is that he steps in when the situation calls for it, and impartially doles out justice within the realms of ‘Survivor.’ His talent also lies in his ability to juggle between the papa bear persona and that of the probing, prodding host, who knows how to pump up the drama, a skill hosts that came after him learned to emulate.

Colby Donaldson and Jeff Probst during season 2 of 'Survivor' (Twitter/Jeff Probst)
Colby Donaldson and Jeff Probst during season 2 of 'Survivor' (Twitter/Jeff Probst)

It does not hurt that he is one of the most charming people on TV and has maintained that charm since his first time on TV. If you were to judge how long ‘Survivor’ has been airing based on how Probst looks, you would think 5 years, tops. At 54, the eternally boyish Probst could arguably outwit, out-champion and outlast every single contestant from any season of ‘Survivor,’ and that has less to do with the fact that he formulated the format and challenges of the show, and more to do with the fact that he is as fit as any contestant on the show.

However, what Probst does not get enough credit for is his decision-making skills. When he was mulling over his next career move ahead of ‘Survivor’ premiere, he was being offered gigs on dating and game shows. Probst decided that he wanted to find something he could actually sink his teeth into, rather than follow the herd.

“I reached a point after Access Hollywood… and I was saying no to a lot of jobs... I reached a point where I thought I want the next job to be one that I really can sink my teeth into... I waited a year and a half and I got down to $8,000 in my bank account… I saw no dollar coming in,” Probst revealed to The Television Academy Foundation. That is when ‘Survivor’ came along and, as soon as he heard about the format, he knew he hit the jackpot.

Jeff Probst waited for one and a half years before landing his 'Survivor' job (Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images)
Jeff Probst waited for one and a half years before landing his 'Survivor' job (Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images)

And now, thanks to that decision so many years ago, he has a job he is still enthusiastic about. “Anybody who meets me and talks about Survivor always walks away with the same takeaway: ‘Wow, that guy is still super enthusiastic,'” Probst told People. “The reason why I’m still enthusiastic today is the same reason why I wanted the job so badly back in 2000: I love humans. I love human behavior. It just never gets old.”

“What keeps me doing this job is that I love watching people make decisions — and the consequences that come as a result of those decisions,” he elaborated. “It fascinates me.” This fascination and enthusiasm clearly comes across every time he declares, “The Tribe Has Spoken”, or bellows, ”Survivors Ready?”

We do not see ‘Survivor’ ever coming to an end, and by no means do we see anyone other than the deep-dimpled, boyish, just and enthusiastic Probst hosting the CBS show. Needless to say, we will be tuning in for season 38 of ‘Survivor’ titled ‘Edge of Extinction’ come Wednesday, February 20.