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More information about Survivor 12: Panama - Exile Island contestant...
Melinda Hyder
32, Sevierville, TN
Realtor/ singer/ dancer/ model
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Individual contestants:
Aras Baskauskas
Austin Carty
Bobby Mason
Bruce Kanegai
Cirie Fields
Courtney Marit
Dan Barry
Danielle DiLorenzo
Melinda Hyder
Misty Giles
Nick Stanbury
Ruth Marie Milliman
Sally Schumann
Shane Powers
Terry Deitz
Tina Scheer

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Contestant-related press and rumors
Date, source
January 26, 2006
Click here to watch the full 45-min video at CBS2 Chicago
January 26, 2006: CBSNews video of a pre-game press roundtable discussion about Melinda, led by Jeff Probst, with Mara Reinstein (US Weekly), Paul Adler (TV Guide channel), Shawna Malcom (TV Guide), Dalton Ross (EW), Jarett Wieselman (In Touch). Transcript:

melindaJeff Probst: Okay, so we've talked about Cirie. Now, at the other end of the spectrum, not in terms that she's not likeable, just in terms of a different person, would be Melinda. Coming into this game...
Melinda (pre-game interview): My name is Melinda Hyder. I'm 32 years old, I'm an entertainer, and I live in Sevierville, Tennessee.
Dalton Ross: I didn't really learn a lot about her with the game, because I just wanted to spend all my time with her talking about Dollywood.
Melinda (pre-game): Sta-and by-y yo-our ma-a-an. [Stops poorly singing Patsy Cline]. I don't like that, I have to do that again.
Dalton Ross: I don't know, I guess some of you had more negative experiences with her, And I don't know if negative is the right word, but... thinking that she wouldn't so well.
Paul Adler: We interviewed her sort of leaning up against a cut-down tree. The first thing she did was want to take something and wipe the tree top off. And we were like, that's a problem.
Shawna Malcom: I thought, she's not going to be able to do anything out there with those acrylic nails.
Jeff Probst: Which makes her fun. I mean, I'm interested in seeing Melinda, because Melinda thinks, coming into the game, she's absolutely ready for it. And I think we're all sort of agreeing that, looking at her, we're thinking you couldn't be less ready. But it'll be interesting to see what happens, when those... those first three days tell so much. If she rips off those nails and says, 'All right, I get it.' If, otherwise, if she's trying to protect them, you know, she'll be gone. My, my concern about Melinda is that she keeps saying that she's here for the adventure. I think she's here to be on TV. I think she's a performer, and that's what she does for a living, and so this is possibly exposure, or whatever.
Dalton Ross: A little bigger than dinner theater. Just slightly bigger than her current gig. So yeah.
Mara Reinstein: She'll have to sing on the spot for anybody, I'm sure.
Jeff Probst: So you guys don't really have much for Melinda? She didn't give you much in her interviews.
Paul Adler: I love being proven wrong by Survivor contestants after the interviews. But I just don't know. She was, you know, already trying to talk to the other contestants. Smacking bugs on her hand just standing at the nice home where we were interviewing them. I just don't know if she's got the teeth for it.
Shawna Malcom: Yeah, I think she could be one of those people who gets out there, and is uncomfortable, and just blows up, loses it. Because you know, she was talking about how people, her friends back home kind of doubted that she could do this, and that she would go off on them. Um, and she was, she was eager to prove you wrong. But I think in the wrong environment, you know she's just, she's not gonna do well.
Jeff Probst: Why do you think we would put her on the show?
Jarrett Wieselman: I think she's a very engaging personality. There is sort of like that car crash quality to her, that you sort of don't love her, but you want to watch her. You want to see what she's going to do, especially if she's going to be as much of a fish out of water as we all think she will be.
Dalton Ross: I don't think she's unlikable. I didn't, I didn't dislike her. I don't want to give that impression that I didn't, I didn't like her. Is she ready for the experience, that's the question. Uh, she's a big personality, and obviously that's, that's why she's there.
Mara Reinstein: And she's very pretty, you can't discount that.
Shawna Malcom: She looks like Tara Reid, actually, you know. Looking at her with shorter hair.
Mara Reinstein: Let's hope she's just as entertaining as Tara Reid, please!
Vidcaps - click thumbnails to expand
melinda - pre-game interview melinda - pre-Ep1 RC melinda in camp

Vidcaps - click thumbnails to expand
melinda melinda - pre-ep1 rc
melinda in camp melinda
January 22, 2006: Transcript of Melinda-specific footage from the TV Guide Channel " Survivor: Panama - Exile Island Preview" (featuring pre-game contestant interviews and Jeff Probst comments from circa Ep1):

"Danni Boatwright: While log rolling is a skill that should work on Survivor, singing hasn't really ever helped anyone in the game.
Melinda (pre-game interview): I am an entertainer. I sing and dance in production shows.
Danni Boatwright: But 32-year-old Melinda doesn't plan on sharing her skill with the tribe.
Melinda (pre-game interview): Once people find out that that's what I do, everybody's 'Oh! Sing!' And no, I don't. That's just not something that I just, you know, crank out a tune."

Date, source
January 10, 2006
John Thompson, for the Kingsport (TN) Times-News
January 10, 2006: Melinda's local paper prints an extensive profile of her (real reporting! Wow!):

"Elizabethton native featured in upcoming Survivor
   CBS should hope for many Nielsen families from the Elizabethton area over the next few months. The talk around the town Monday was all about Melinda Hyder, 32, a local woman who will be a contestant on the next edition of the popular reality show Survivor.
   'I am awfully proud of her, and I don't know where she got that courage,' her mother, Carol Hyder, said after it was revealed on The Early Show on CBS Monday.
   Carol Hyder said her daughter has always kept fit and has been dancing since she was a toddler. She also jogs and works out, enjoys water skiing and snow skiing, and has her scuba diving license.
aras at uciPhoto credit:
Kingsport Times-News
   Chrisann Watts-Tull has been friends with Melinda Hyder since they were young girls. She remembers when Hyder first came to her mother's dance studio as a 3-year-old. 'She is incredibly energetic,' Watts-Tull said. 'I don't think I have ever known anyone else with her energy. She always stood out in the crowd.'
   Watts-Tull said she also remembers how tough Hyder can be. 'Our families went across country in Winnebagos. I remember she broke her arm in Las Vegas, and she never cried when they were setting it,' Watts-Tull said.
   Many teachers at Elizabethton High School remember Hyder well, especially since her mother taught honors algebra and pre-calculus at the school for 38 years. Choral director Debbie Gouge said Hyder was a freshman when she first started teaching at the school. 'She really was a good student,' Gouge said, adding that she sang in the choir all four years and was an All-State singer.
    Hyder was also a cheerleader and played the French horn in the Betsy Band. Gouge said music was Hyder's first love, and it paid off with a vocal scholarship to East Tennessee State University.
   Gouge believes Hyder has the potential to do very well in the reality show. 'She has cunning skills, and I mean that in a good way,' Gouge said. 'She knew how to get things accomplished, and she knew how to get her way.'
   Hyder competed twice in the Miss Tennessee Pageant, finishing in the top 10 and winning the talent competition both times. She competed as Miss Historic Jonesborough in 1995 and Miss Lexington in 1996.
   She continues to perform. Hyder moved to Sevierville and performed at Dollywood for five or six years. While at Dollywood she performed in the '50s Show, Paradise Road, Backstage Pass. Her mother said her favorite show was Christmas in the Smokies. This past year she left Dollywood to perform with the Showplace Dinner Theater in Sevierville. When she is not performing, Hyder sells real estate with Sevierville Real Estate and Rentals.
   'I hope everyone will be cheering for her. She is just a good East Tennessee girl,' Carol Hyder said. Survivor: Panama premieres Thursday, Feb. 2, at 8 p.m. on CBS."
Date, source
January 9, 2006
WTVL, Knoxville, TN
January 9, 2006: Local CBS affiliate WTVL-TV ("Volunteer TV") profiles Melinda on their web site:

"Sevierville woman selected for Survivor: Panama - Exile Island
    Get ready to start cheering on another local woman in Survivor. 32-year-old Melinda Hyder of Sevierville will be trying to survive the brutal conditions on Panama - Exile Island beginning February 2nd on CBS and Volunteer TV.
    Melinda's a singer who's worked on cruise ships, at Six Flags, and most notably six years on the stage at Dollywood. You may have seen her with Dolly Parton!
    She talked a bit about the show this morning. 'I'm gonna get on somebody's nerves because everybody's gonna get on somebody's nerves at one point it's just gonna happen. So I'm just gonna try to do it as little as possible,' says Melinda.
    The last local contestant was of course, Tina Wesson, the Fountain City mother of two won the contest and picked up a million dollars. Survivor: Panama - Exile Island begins right here on Volunteer TV and CBS on February 2nd at 8:00 p.m."
January 9, 2006: Officially revealed as a contestant on Survivor: Panama - Exile Island on the Early Show.
Early Show vidcaps - click thumbnails to expand
older women older women melinda

Melinda's bio, from the CBS Survivor: Panama site:
Melinda Hyder was born and raised in Elizabethton, Tennessee. She has one sister, Regina, and is proud to point out that her parents, Richard and Carol, were high school sweethearts and have been married for 44 years. Hyder began singing in church at the age of four. She trained in ballet, tap, jazz and gymnastics for 12 years. She attended classes and taught at the Watt Dance Studio in Elizabethton.

Hyder graduated with honors in music and math from Elizabethton High School. She then attended East Tennessee State University in Johnson City on a full vocal scholarship and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in music. While in college, she performed with the music groups 10BucsWorth, Chorale and Women's Ensemble.

After college, Hyder entertained at Six Flags over Georgia for two years. She then toured Europe while performing on a cruise ship. She also spent six years performing at Dollywood (often times with Dolly Parton). In addition, she has worked as a real estate agent, private vocal coach, dance instructor, pageant coach and model.

Hyder describes herself as vivacious, competitive and compassionate. Her hobbies include creative home decorating, collecting Marilyn Monroe memorabilia, watching CBS soap operas and jogging.

Currently single, Hyder resides in Sevierville, Tennessee, with her Pomeranian, Lexi. Her birth date is May 23, 1973.

January 8, 2006: Revealed as a contestant on Survivor: Panama - Exile Island by VolcanicGlass.
Date, source
December 28, 2005
December 28, 2005: Melinda sets the unofficial record for Survivor domain name registrations, claiming, .net, .org, .info, .biz and .us domains as her own. Along with, of course, the more pedestrian
Date, source
July 2, 2005
aras at uci
Image Property of Singer Dancers, LLC
© 2005 Copyright
July 2, 2005: Melinda's singing career appears to be represented through the agency of Singer Dancers LLC. Her profile is featured in this cached version of the web site.

Notable only in that it has her picture (at left), and she's listed as being a 31-year-old singer/ dancer/ model.

Date, source
June 11, 2005
Bryan Stevens Elizabethton (TN) Star
June 11, 2005: Melinda is mentioned in part of a lengthy story talking about her mother (Carol Hyder), who recently retired after a 38-year career as a schoolteacher:

" The couple are the parents of two daughters, Regina Hyder and Melinda Hyder. Regina Hyder works currently in California for Homeland Security developing software to coordinate the distribution of shots in the event of a terrorist biological attack. Melinda Hyder works as an entertainer at the Showplace Dinner Theater in Sevierville."

Date, source
February 14, 2002
Knoxville Area Assoc. of Realtors
February 14, 2002: Approved as a (realtor) member of the Knoxville Area Association of Realtors.

Currently works for Sevierville Real Estate and Rentals.

Date, source
1996: Appears to have won the title of Miss Lexington (Tennessee), and finished in the top ten in the Miss Tennessee beauty pageant:

"The Miss Lexington winners to compete for the title of Miss Tennessee.

1996 - Melinda Hyder - Top Ten/Talent."

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