By now, any TV buff knows this show. Diverse characters come together under demanding conditions and fend for themselves on a remote island. Darwinism depletes their numbers as the weak-willed get culled -- voted off the island -- while others thrive on the primal challenges for their tribes. Survivor scored big in the summer season on Channel 11. But by the time it aired, the station was already painfully aware of its own Survivor scenario. Veteran anchors vanished, voluntarily or otherwise. Sage Steve Smith shipped out, Sylvan Rodriguez succumbed to cancer, and Marlene McClinton made her exit in a surprise on-the-air resignation. Also gone were Charles Hadlock and Clare Casademont. Rival stations were certain that viewer ratings would be the vote that cast this beleaguered station off its island. However, they didn't think a relative unknown would step forward to rally the KHOU troops. Lisa Foronda arrived in '97 after weekend-anchor stints in minor markets. Foronda was destined, it seemed, to be little more than an attractive accessory to what KHOU saw as its savior: Greg Hurst, a reputed network news heavyweight brought in from New York. Over the course of the next year, Hurst wowed nobody. But Foronda carried him, and lifted the rest of the news operation even more. How? For one, she's smart, in a rare common sense sort of way. She's serious about the news, and that's something that viewers don't see much of these days. But she also doesn't take herself too seriously, a fresh and welcome trait in the pompous world of TV news. Working your way up from places like West Texas can instill humility. And being matched with a hollow hair-head like Hurst shows that distinction so clearly. Some of the rival newsrooms, in trying to explain how Channel 11's ratings remained respectable, speak in awe about the "Foronda factor" at work. This leader of the survivors is every insider's choice for leader on an anchor desk -- or a remote island, for that matter.