College News

Jeff Varner of ‘Survivor’ fame to speak at Civic Center

Click to enlarge Jeff Varner of ‘Survivor’ fame to speak at Civic Center

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Jeff Varner, former contestant on the "Survivor" television show, former co-host on the "Live with ... (more)

Click to enlarge Jeff Varner of ‘Survivor’ fame to speak at Civic Center

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Jeff Varner (left) guest co-hosted the "Live with Regis & Kelly" show with Kelly Ripka. Varner, ... (more)

02.10.2012Arts & EntertainmentCollege & CommunitySpecial Events

SANFORD - Writer, broadcast journalist, television host, photographer, adventure-seeker - Jeff Varner does it all. On Feb. 16, from 1 p.m.-3 p.m., he will share some stories from his life during an appearance at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center.

The event is open to the public and admission is free.

Among his many accomplishments, Varner was a contestant on the second season of the "Survivor" television show and served as a co-host on the "Live with Regis & Kelly" show.

Tar Heel born and bred, in Greensboro, Varner's southern demeanor, high energy, lively personality and trustworthy delivery have carried him to ratings successes, three Emmy nominations, hundreds of major television appearances, and a "Rookie of the Year" award from the Associated Press.

He comes to Sanford at the invitation of an old UNC-Chapel Hill classmate, Carl Bryan, dean of Student Learning Support programs at Central Carolina Community College. The college's Men of Academic Distinction and Excellence (MADE) minority male mentoring program is sponsoring the event.

Varner will speak in the Civic Center's Lecture Hall for approximately an hour about being the first in his family to complete college and the opportunities that education has opened for him. Those include the "Survivor" appearance and an extensive career in television. He will then answer audience questions.

Varner spent his early years on a tobacco farm. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from UNC-Chapel Hill, where he was a captain of the UNC Tarheel National Champion cheer program.

He has spent a large part of his adult life in New York and Los Angeles. After college, he worked in sales, marketing, graphic design and Internet development, honing his business sense, writing and technical skills.

In 2000, CBS invited him to be on "Survivor: The Australian Outback." He finished in the top 10 and used that opportunity to launch a career in television, covering the reality TV beat in Hollywood for KCBS and E.T. Online.

He then became an entertainment reporter, correspondent and show host. He's had one-on-one interviews with thousands of stars and star makers, including Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorcese, Tom Cruise, and Jennifer Lopez.

Varner then took the leap to hard news, pursuing a life-long dream to become a news anchor. In less than a year as weekend anchor at Fox affiliate WGHP in North Carolina, the Associated Press awarded him its 2005 "Rookie of the Year". It was the first of three AP awards he won in North Carolina.

CBS affiliate WWMT, in West Michigan, recruited Varner as its new morning anchor and, in less than six months, morning show ratings increased dramatically. He became the station's main evening anchor and received three Emmy nominations for his work.

Varner is in North Carolina currently working on some projects for the Travel Channel.

"Jeff is a great guy and a dynamic speaker," Bryan said. "People, especially young people, will enjoy hearing him talk about his amazing life and feel his power to inspire others to set high goals and work toward them."