Phil Keoghan took his first trip when he was three years old. He traveled from New Zealand to Canada with his parents and still has a picture of his first airplane ride. The host of “The Amazing Race” has gone on to travel to over 100 countries and it’s no wonder why he feels the need to be on a plane every time he sees one. “The Amazing Race” is back for its 30th season and Keoghan hosts a show this year that features world champion competitive eater Joey Chestnut, NBA champion Shawn Marion and professional skier Jen Hudak.
Keoghan chatted with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith about the new season of the show, how he developed a passion for traveling and people and why “The Amazing Race” continues to thrive after 30 seasons.
DJ Sixsmith: What excites you the most about this season of “The Amazing Race”?
Phil Keoghan: It starts with the fact that CBS has given us this fantastic new time slot in prime time on Wednesday nights. We’ve wanted to be in a good time slot like that for a long time. That is something that our fans seem to be responding to. Also, it is exciting to be back out in the world doing this exciting 30th season. We have this renewed energy as program makers making this show for people. This season is about the best of the best in their chosen fields. We have NBA All-Stars, Joey Chestnut the world champion eater, champion lifeguards, a Indy 500 car winner and X-Games gold medalists. We put them in crazy situations around the world and it’s exciting.
DS: How do you continue to reinvent yourself as a host after all these years hosting the show?
PK: I’m as enthusiastic about the show this year as I was in season one. If anything, I’m even more enthusiastic. It’s always new, fresh and exciting. I never feel like I’m repeating myself because we’re going to different places all the time. It can’t get boring. The other thing is, we always have new teams coming on. I’m excited to share the world with them. I always say at the beginning of the show, the world is waiting for you. I say that not just for the audience, but also for the teams. The world is really waiting for them and we have all these incredible adventures set up for them. I get excited about knowing that they’ll see the world in a very special way. They’re racing for $1 million, but the experience that they get on “The Amazing Race” is worth way more than $1 million. $1 million couldn’t buy this experience that we’re giving them.
DS: You’ve seen the world in a very special way. You’ve traveled to over 100 countries and took your first trip when you were three years old. How did you develop the travel bug?
PK: I started traveling very early in my life. I just found a photograph the other day of my first plane ride when I was three years old. My parents and I left New Zealand and we traveled to Canada. I’ve been traveling around the world ever since. I got the travel bug from my parents. I got my passion for people from looking at how my parents interacted with people. My dad was a plant scientist who worked with farmers in third world countries around the world and my mum was a music teacher. They could talk to everyone from a prime minister to a local farmer who grows vegetables. I really got that bug to get out into the world to meet more people and to connect with people around the world. I see a plane and I feel like I need to be on it. I love to travel. People wonder if I get sick of it and I say no because I love that I get to see the world and travel the world.
DS: What can viewers expect on tonight’s new episode titled “It’s Gonna be a Fragrant Day”?
PK: Last week, we ended with a very dramatic head to head. The contestants are going to be flying to Tangiers. If you don’t know Tangiers, Morocco, think of the Jason Bourne movie “The Bourne Identity” where Matt Damon is running around from building to building and leaping from building to building in the city of Tangiers. That’s where we’re headed tonight. There’s a Jason Bourne theme tonight where teams will be sent on a mission and who knew that belly dancing was also done by men. It’s not only done by women, it’s done by men as well. Tonight, we’ll be putting our teams to the test with belly dancing as well.
DS: You mentioned before how special it is to hit the 30th season of the show. What have been the keys to the longevity of “The Amazing Race”?
PK: It starts with the fact that we know we’re making something that our fans love. If you’re making something and you’re not getting that feedback, it can take the wind out of your sails. We’re making something that we know our fans love. We are focused on making something that is excellent. We try to set very high standards. We want the show to be cinematic, big and grand. We want it to feel different from other reality shows that are out there. We separate ourselves with the quality of the show. That’s what we’re striving for. We’re striving to be the best of the best and we want people to think of our show as something that is always different and new.
Check out tonight’s new episode of “The Amazing Race” tonight at 8pm EST/PST on CBS