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North America

Raw Travel Presents – Let Freedom Ring in Ukraine!

RAW TRAVEL TV TO HELP FREEDOM RING IN UKRAINE!

Multifaceted Media Campaign Poised to Help Ukraine for the “Long Haul” –

NEW YORK, NY: June 1st, 2022 – AIM Tell-A-Vision® Group (AIM TV), producers of the nation’s most-watched travel show, Raw Travel®, announced “Let Freedom Ring in Ukraine” to help Ukrainian refugees. The multi-platform and multi-faceted initiative will provide grassroots, long-term financial, and tangible assistance to externally and internally displaced Ukrainian refugees and citizens affected by the Russian invasion. 

In June, producer, and host, Robert G. Rose will be filming in Paris, France, and then at the border of Poland and Ukraine with Raw Travel videographer and displaced Ukrainian refugee Anastasia Zui. Conditions permitting, they hope to go into Ukraine embedded with “Keep the Kids Learning” and “Help 4 Ukraine,” two small, independent organizations founded by American logistics engineer Joseph Nichols, living in Ukraine, and other Expatriates. The grassroots organizations are dedicated to helping keep Ukrainian refugee children and teachers in school and moving needed medicines and medical supplies from the US and Europe into Ukraine. 

On July 2nd and 3rd, 2022 just before USA Independence Day, Raw Travel will premiere a special episode entitled “Let Freedom Ring in Ukraine.” The special will feature updated, relevant Ukrainian segments that showcase the country before the 2022 invasion, along with updated narration and ways viewers can help. The episode will re-air on August 27th-28th. 

“Raw Travel offered valuable context to viewers when filming in Ukraine and the border areas of Russian-occupied Georgia in 2019,” said Robert G. Rose, Executive Producer and Host of the series. “Given our past coverage of Russian aggression’s consequences in both Georgia and Ukraine, we feel we can offer a unique perspective,” Rose continued. “I think we can show a different, potentially more uplifting angle of this tragedy that may inspire people to help the many good folks and organizations helping Ukraine on the ground, long after the raw emotion of Russia’s 2022 invasion has subsided, but the need persists.”

The “Let Freedom Ring in Ukraine” effort has already begun in a limited capacity

with on-air billboards and social media posts encouraging viewers to visit 

RawTravelGiveBack.com. The special web page is a constantly evolving, dedicated entry point for concerned viewers. There, they can get updates about Ukrainians featured in the show and donate directly to vetted organizations or buy specially designed Raw Travel “Let Freedom Ring in Ukraine” merchandise (shirts, mugs, glasses, etc.) benefitting the efforts of these organizations. 

Raw Travel’s milestone Season 10 begins September 19th, 2022. A trailer of Raw Travel’s Let Freedom Ring episode can be viewed https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nl88AHSCsGo

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ABOUT RAW TRAVEL TV

Raw Travel is an adventure travel & lifestyle series showcasing socially and environmentally aware, independent travel. The series weaves together themes of eco-tourism and voluntourism (giving back) with underground music and authentic culture in a unique way. Each weekend the show is seen in 174 U.S. cities on major broadcast affiliates and several international territories (Asia, Africa, Europe…). It can also be found on several major airlines. AIM Tell-A-Vision Group produces the show and oversees its domestic and international distribution. Visit RawTravel.tv for more information. 

ABOUT AIM TELL-A-VISION GROUP

AIM Tell-A-Vision (AIM TV) Group is an independent production, content, and distribution company founded by media veteran and entrepreneur Robert G. Rose. Since 2000, AIM TV has been producing and distributing positive, compelling content that reflects a mission of presenting “Media That Matters.” Visit AIMTVGroup.com for more information.

ABOUT KEEP THE KIDS LEARNING AND CARE 4 UKRAINE

Joseph Nichols is a US Citizen and logistics expert that has lived and worked in Ukraine since 2014. He and other US Expatriates are raising money for medical supplies and medicines distributed to Internally Displaced People (IDPs – Ukrainians displaced within Ukraine). They are also purchasing computers, books, and supplies to set up learning centers in Lviv, Ukraine, for children that the conflict has displaced. They have established transport lines across the Ukrainian/Polish border into most areas of the country and have received donations of supplies, equipment, and medicines. They are also offering space on trucks to other aid groups. Visit https://gofund.me/13be73ab and https://gofund.me/06fa1840 for more information on Keep The Kids Learning and Care 4 Ukraine. 

Categories
North America

Let Freedom Ring Coffee Mugs

Thanks everyone for your donations and for buying the exclusive Raw Travel designed “Let Freedom Ring” T-Shirts and Pint Glasses based on my photo of Freedom Square in Kyiv that I took in 2019.

We’ve finally received the official “Let Freedom Ring” Coffee Mugs to Help Ukraine. We’re offering them in background two colors, white and light blue. The mugs sell for $17.99 (excluding shipping) and almost $10 from each sale goes to help the fundraising efforts of our pals at Keep Kids Learning who are not only keeping refugee kids learning by donating and funding school supplies but are also raising funds for medical supplies as well.

You can order yours at our special merch page

or if you prefer, you may also donate at our GoFundMe Page

Let Freedom Ring – Coffee Mugs

I’m including below the latest update from Joseph there, who is planning a trip back to the USA to gather medical supplies, etc. to take back. I hope to catch up with him in person or by zoom. My trip to Ukraine has been delayed a bit until early June, but it’s still on.

Thank you for all your support once again!

Here’s the latest update from Joseph at Care4Ukraine / Keeps Kids Learning.

As you might know, the areas we are starting these “pop-up” classrooms are located in the western region of Ukraine. Not only have IDP’s relocated from where the intense fighting is concentrated to cities like Lviv, Ternopil, and Uhzgorod, but also to the smaller villages. Recent attacks in the west have knocked out power in many places and our sister-site on GoFundMe – “Care4Ukraine” is beginning to address needs of IDP’s in these areas.
Many refugees are returning to Ukraine as the war drags on. Issues like the higher cost of living and separation from family takes it toll, and the choice to return begins to look better than being a refugee in a foreign country. It is now estimated that there are eight million IDPs in Ukraine, economic output is down more than 50%, and the conflict is growing more intense each day.

Thank you for your help. Joseph

UPDATE May 2nd, 2022 –

ROB INTERVIEWS JOSEPH NICHOLS OF “KEEP THE KIDS LEARNING” FROM UKRAINE – Rob caught up with Joseph via zoom, while Joseph was making a quick trip to Chicago to pick up some medical supplies to take back to Ukraine.

Categories
North America

RAW TRAVEL ANNOUNCES UPCOMING SEASON 10 AS FINALE

200th Episode in 2023 Will Mark End to Remarkable & Unlikely Run

NEW YORK, NY: March 30th, 2022 – AIM Tell-A-Vision® Group (AIM TV), producers of the nation’s most-watched travel show, Raw Travel®, announced today that their upcoming Season 10 (2022-23) set to debut this September, will mark the show’s final full season of original productions. The show’s last season is scheduled to end in September 2023 with the production and broadcast of its milestone 200th episode.

The producers are currently editing the back-half of its ninth season (2021-22). Still, they have already begun filming for Season 10 and planning for the show’s finale season, which will feature a season-long celebration. 

The celebration will include “Look-Back” promos, trip and gear giveaways, and culminate with a big celebratory event in New York City to celebrate the show’s unlikely ten-season run.

The producers also announced that the show will continue in syndication with re-runs until at least September 2025, with Seasons 11 and 12 mining their library of 200 (primarily evergreen) episodes. Incumbent stations will have first-right-of-refusal to carry the library content. The library will also feature never-before-seen digital and broadcast content such as international segments, producer commentary, did-you-knows, behind-the-scenes, and refreshed content when appropriate. 

“This has been a surreal ride, and it’s far from over, but I see an exit ramp,” said Robert G. Rose, Executive Producer and Host of the series. “We felt strongly about presenting a new kind of travel show focusing more on travel than celebrity while communicating the importance of social responsibility wherever travel takes us. We haven’t achieved all our objectives, but there is time yet, and I can say the show long ago far exceeded my expectations. We’re excited about the future and producing our most memorable and important season to date with Season 10,” Rose continued.

Highlighting the importance of the show’s final season, the producers are planning a trip to the border of Poland and Ukraine to film a “Giveback” themed episode on the Ukrainian refugee crisis. They hope to showcase how travel and tourism, combined with giving back, can create a more fulfilling travel experience. They are also raising funds from viewers and fans to help refugees. Raw Travel visited and filmed in Ukraine twice in 2019 and offered valuable pre-war context to viewers. More information on their efforts to help in Ukraine can be found at RawTravelGiveback.com

Raw Travel’s milestone Season 10 begins September 19th, 2022, and the final broadcast will occur the weekend of September 16th and 17th, 2023. 

Season 10 One Sheet

Season 10 (2022-23) One Sheet

Seasons 11 & 12 One Sheet

Categories
North America

Too Whack for Weekends

Too Whack For Weekends – Video

HOW DARE I?

I have been privileged to work in the broadcasting industry for most of my adult life. I began in local ad sales and progressed to management. My current role as a business owner and independent producer of Raw Travel TV has been the most fulfilling and eye-opening of all.

I have overseen all facets of a completely vertical (independent) television syndication service (production, ad sales, distribution, marketing, etc.) for over 22 years. I’ve worked with scores of general managers, programmers, and station group executives, as well as advertisers and related industries.

My company, AIM Tell-A-Vision Group, has strived to produce missing or under-served content in the grand and growing video landscape for over two decades.

Media that matters – I know that “media that matters” could sound glib and trite, but we genuinely pursue this mission. And because, at least with Raw Travel, my name and face are all over the show (and credits), I sometimes take it personally.  

This may be why I never, ever “mail it in.” Be it good or bad, I always strive to do my best. For Nine Seasons, I’ve done my best work as a commitment to our viewers, our affiliates, our advertisers, and myself. I wouldn’t be writing these words nine seasons in if it hadn’t worked.

The broadcasting industry and viewers have largely rewarded those efforts. Raw Travel has grown to become the nation’s most-watched travel show on commercial TV, and I owe a debt of gratitude to too many people to list.


THIS IS WHACK!

And there are so many caring and talented people in the broadcasting business, many of whom have become friends over the years. I’m grateful for what this business has given me. Therefore, I’m declaring “War” on “Whacked Weekends.”

I’ve watched the quality of weekend syndicated steadily decline over the years, and I’ve wondered “why”? Sports are on the weekends, and big-name event programming is on the weekends. Many families are all together and at home on weekends. Weekends are nearly 30% of an entire week’s schedule. Weekend programming can help lift weekday and local news ratings.

This is why I scratch my head when some broadcasters in some markets seem content to program shows that are borderline unwatchable or, in some cases, embarrassing. Sometimes directly after big-time sports or news with big-time lead-in audiences.

It can be the salacious, embarrassing content disguised as sports bloopers, or old content disguised as new, or content jammed with beyond the industry standard commercial load. These hurt stations more than an immediate clicking of the remote (or the powering up of the laptop or smartphone).

In each of these instances, the producer(s)/distributor(s) is betraying the trust of affiliates, advertisers, and most sacred of all, the viewers. To me, this is unforgivable anytime, but especially now when viewers have so many choices.

GREED IS NOT GOOD (TV)

Consider the long-time indie syndicator turned “mogul” cramming in more commercial interruptions than the industry standard. Often this is within programming that can, at best, be described as borderline watchable if it didn’t have a single, solitary commercial.  

The commercial interruption count comparison included doesn’t even take into account the numerous archaic but annoying interruptions advising the viewer, “don’t go away” or “we’ll be right back.” 

Given the sub-par quality of some of the shows this producer is putting out, it sounds less like an invitation than a threat or challenge to endure.  

We know this results in more clutter but more money for the producer. In the process of this naked display of greed and negligence, this incredibly self-serving and short-sighted approach sheds viewers (see research below). I’m assuming most stations want more viewers but are unaware of this issue.

Understandable with all the content, smaller and smaller staffs are tasked with overseeing. 

Are broadcasters aware of the bikini-clad girls that are jump roping or hula-hooping (or anything that requires bouncing and jiggling)? It’s a “sports blooper” show, or so we thought. 

Or of the minute-plus long end-credits that drive viewers away at the end of shows?

Or of the non-evergreen and dated content put out as fresh that is no longer relevant, much less compelling.

WEED THE WEEKENDS

I believe good weekend programming and a healthy, unique first-run ecosystem can help broadcasters compete against the onslaught of competition for viewer attention.  

We need more independent producers who work in a broadcast-first platform. And many of them are doing good work.

But for these good producers and programs to survive, they need room to grow.

Just as one weeds a garden so the vegetables can bear fruit, the same should be said for weekend programming. Stations need to weed out the lazy, the greedy, the inappropriate, and the just plain bad and plant more of the good.

Give the producers, programs, and stations the room to grow with more runs of the good stuff and less of the lousy cluttering up the landscape.

I created this “Too Whack for Weekends” video to hopefully bring some light-hearted attention to this issue.

As I said, I love this business and the people in it. It’s been very good to me.

But I’m getting a little long in the tooth for these types of causes. I could easily just bump along and not cause waves. However, I don’t think that is in anyone’s best interest, except perhaps the lazy, greedy, or incompetent producer.

So here we go! Go ahead and call me Don Quixote if you like. It won’t be the first time, and I won’t take offense.

After watching the video, please feel free to leave a comment or drop me a line at RawTravel (at) AIMTVGroup.com

ADDITIONAL RESEARCH BELOW:

Cynopsis 1/24/22

Eighty-five percent of TV viewers would be willing to hand over personal information like age, gender and location in exchange for fewer ads, according to a survey from Sharethrough. Other key data points in the report include:
· 66% of people indicate they don’t actively watch TV ads and grab their phone once a commercial starts
· 73% of respondents said they would pay more attention to the ads if they were better targeted to their interests, more diversified, and with less ads per commercial breaks
· 58% said they would use their TV remote to buy a product or get a coupon for a product they liked in a commercial

Cynopsis 1/25/22

It’s no secret that TV viewers don’t like heavy ad loads during their shows. But according to Hub’s “TV Advertising: Fact vs. Fiction” study, a heavy ad load not only leads viewers to say the number of ads during a show is unreasonable, but it also has a negative impact on their viewing satisfaction generally. Asked to rate the overall experience of watching the show – all things considered, not just ads – positive ratings went from 44% among those who saw 5 or fewer ads, to 33% among those who saw over 11 ads. Those who were most satisfied were those who found the ads relevant, with 58% giving a thumbs-up among those who said the ads had featured products that matched their interests.

NATIONAL AD INVENTORY COMPARISON

Categories
North America

Sneak Peek Episode 901

Recently wrapped edit on Episode #1 (Ep. 901) of Season 9, premiering in October 2021. Here’s a sneak peek of Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Categories
Caribbean North America

Finally… Puerto Rico!!

I’ve visited Puerto Rico before. I always stated that technically correct fact. But truth be told, I remembered little about my first and only trip so many years ago. I remember it was a long weekend. I remember I stayed in the newer part of San Juan, ventured into Old San Juan for the day, and the next day rented a car to drive to Ponce where it proceeded to rain. That’s it. That’s about all I remember. What a disservice.

Ever since Hurricane Maria I’ve been itching to get back. Something about witnessing people recovering from a devastatingly miserable experience from afar moves me to get closer. Then there was an earthquake, then Covid. After a long absence from travel (20 months), now seemed the time. So I scheduled back-to-back trips “abroad.” First to Croatia, then to Puerto Rico. In both instances, I was hardly alone.

US travelers abounded in Croatia. That was surprising to me. US travelers abounded in Puerto Rico. That did not surprise me. Puerto Rico is, after all, for better or for worse, a US territory and there is no need to test for a Covid infection before returning to the mainland. I’m not sure if that’s what drew so many US travelers to Puerto Rico during their traditional off-season (the summer), if it was just pent-up demand for travel or the fact that no passport is needed. My hunch is it is a combination of all of the above.

But I did get a distinct impression that many first-time “international” travelers were in town, at least in Old San Juan this time. They were likely taking advantage of the good deals to be had as Puerto Rico welcomed back travelers from the mainland US.

Palacio Provincial Hotel Courtyard

But, alas, those were just my first impressions during a second trip. This time, my second trip to Puerto Rico would be the second impression that meant the most. This time I’d be filming with a crew of locals, and I’d be staying in the heart of Old San Juan, at the beautifully recently restored “Palacio Provincial Hotel.”

I was told that this beautiful, historic, building in the heart of Old San Juan was originally built in the 1800s and that it was a former government building before being restored fairly recently.

It did not disappoint. I loved the hotel’s classic style and old-school atmosphere of Spanish style courtyards and high ceilings- while simultaneously basking in the modern, almost luxurious features like an infinity pool, hot tub, gym, uber-comfy bed, modern hot shower, super fast wifi, etc.

Typical Puerto Rican Cuisine at Restaurant El Jibarito

But my favorite thing about Palacio Provincial was location, location, location. I was within walking distance of so many sites, great bars, and restaurants. Indeed, this trip, I felt a part of Old San Juan.

Almost every morning, I’d head to the corner coffee and pastry kiosk at the park nearby and get a Cafe Negro (black coffee) con Mallorca sandwich pastry. Or I’d hit up the Restaurant El Jibarito nearby for an authentic, down-home Puerto Rican lunch.

Or visit the Poets Passage on open mic night. Here I’d be treated to traditional poetry slam from poets as far away as Minnesota; or some Brazilian Batucada fused with Puerto Rican Plena and African drumming from a surprise musical act Baturepike who simply rocked the place.

Thanks to my local pals and film crew from Discover Puerto Rico, I’d eat very well (it was Rocio from the Spoon Experience who introduced me to my new favorite sandwich, the Mallorca) while venturing outside of Old San Juan frequently.

Our visit to the nearby beach community of Loiza was memorable for a few reasons. Mainly thanks to Rafi from the famous foodie Vlog and IG account La Mafia who showed me the ropes of eating Alcapurrías and Bacalaítos (two types of cuisine I’d never even heard of before).

Food Kiosk in Loiza

Rafi instinctively knew which local food kiosks were best and did the thinking for me. I’ve never interviewed anyone on the show with such an obvious knowledge and love of their local cuisine. We both did the eating, and I didn’t need to eat dinner that evening. I can’t speak for Rafi’s dinner that evening but given the performance he put in at lunch, I do recall wondering how the guy maintains any semblance of svelte appearance.

We also visited gorgeous Bahia Beach Resort to see the work the resort is doing to save Sea Turtles, Manatees, and various bird species on the island.

The “Alma De Bahia Foundation,” which translates to “the Soul of Bahia,” is their non-profit arm focusing on local sustainability through conservation initiatives and environmental education.

The Foundation works very closely with the residents and guests at Bahia to give back to our community and the natural environment. Our guide, Marcela, is an inspiring mixture of environmental warrior / marine biology nerd. She knows her stuff.

Marcela with one of the local dog rescues

Marcela kindly offered us a bonus tour of the rescue shelter for dogs (watch the show to see how that ties into saving wildlife) and their farm, where they grow fruits and vegetables for the resort and surrounding community.

Speaking of farms, I must be getting old because I have this inexplicable desire to get back to my farm boy roots these days. Which I find ironic considering my city boy ways (yes, I know, I’m far from a “boy” anymore, but you get the point).

Anyhow, one of my favorite day trips outside of OSJ was a visit to the town of Maniti to tour Frutos Del Guacabo . There I finally milked a goat successfully, putting the “great Romanian goat milking scandal” from Season 2 in the rear view mirror. I hope!

Feeling out my future?

I also learned a new term, culinary agriculture, which is a fancy way of saying that you’ll get to taste some delicious results of their cutting-edge hydroponic and natural farming methods.

Efran showed us how it’s grown. Chef Adrian showed us how it’s cooked. And , you guessed it, I showed them how it’s eaten.

Other day trips were on our agenda, like our trip out to El Hippie Waterfall in Naguabo. Unfortunately, it had rained earlier and created a situation where I wouldn’t be able to get into the raging water. But it made an alternative beauty that showcased just a taste of the tremendous power of nature (though most Puerto Ricans likely don’t need reminding).

The raging El Hippie Waterfall

We ended the “official” shoot with a trip to Fajardo. After I finally got my mofongo fix at a late lunch, we night-kayaked to the Nestor Martinez Luminescent Bio Bay, one of three in Puerto Rico and five in the whole world (all in the Caribbean). Because of the temperature of the water, light pollution, and overall climate change, the luminescent critters took some work to see. But my favorite thing about the whole experience was the relaxing kayak trip back (going with the current on the way back) and hearing the sounds of the water and coqui frogs singing. I could have stayed out there all night, if they’d let me.

But alas, I had to fly back the next day and get to work editing, writing scripts, backing up, and in general, getting ready for Season Nine. We were far ahead pre-covid but now are behind. But I’m so happy to be traveling again, and I’m so grateful for this opportunity to get a second opportunity to visit Puerto Rico.

Speaking of covid, I was very comfortable filming there. Most people I knew or worked with closely indicated they were vaccinated and the retail establishments, generally speaking, enforced mask policy. I was tracking the numbers, they were lower than where I live in NYC and far lower than parts of the unvaccinated USA. Puerto Ricans seem to understand tragedy, and more importantly, the resilience required to overcome tragedy. They did not seem eager to court more tragedy and seemed to understand the balance of living their lives, making a living, while doing everything possible to keep everyone, visitors and locals alike, as safe as possible. It worked for me.

BaturePike at Poet’s Passage in Old San Juan

Yes, I was only in Puerto Rico for five days, but thanks to so many, this second trip was far more memorable than the first. So when I say it feels like the first time, this is what I mean. Besides, if I forget any details, this time, for better or worse, we have it on video… well, most of it! And besides, it gives me a good reason to return.

See more photos of our adventure HERE.

Look for the first one of two episodes of Raw Travel’s trip to Puerto Rico to premiere in November 2021. Stay tuned to facebook, twitter, and RawTravel.tv/Episodes .

Categories
North America Public Relations

Raw Travel is Go For Season 9

– TV’s Most Watched Travel Show Ready to Help Lead Travel’s Comeback –

NEW YORK, NY: July 15th, 2021 – AIM Tell-A-Vision® Group (AIM TV) announced that its first-run, syndicated TV series Raw Travel® has been greenlit for a ninth consecutive season. The long-running, syndicated travel show’s new season will kick off in late September with a retrospective from the early days of Raw Travel’s past episodes. Viewers will have the opportunity to vote on their desired destinations and episodes at RawTravelRebooked.com and on the show’s various social media platforms.   

Coming in November, a full slate of brand-new episodes will debut. These new episodes will include Raw Travel Host and Producer Robert G. Rose’s first trip to film abroad in over 18 months as he heads to Croatia to film. It will also include a taste of the Caribbean as Raw Travel showcases Puerto Rico’s road to recovery from Hurricane Maria and the pandemic. 

Next up, the series will turn its attention to the US, with travel in the northeastern United States, including a stop in New York City documenting the Big Apple’s comeback. In typical Raw Travel style, the show will focus on the less publicized, off-the-beaten-path hidden gems and neighborhoods of the beloved city that was once the pandemic’s global epicenter. 

Then it’s RV Road Trip time as Rose jumps in the new Raw Travel branded Jeep Gladiator and Sunset Sunray Mini Travel Trailer on a solo road trip originating in Tennessee before heading on a route westward. Current plans call for Rose to make his way to the Pine Ridge Native American Reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, which he initially visited in 2016. Rose will document how the nation’s poorest county has fared in the years following. Rose will then loop the travel trailer back home, stopping and filming at points of interest along the way.

“Like so many other vaccinated travelers, I can’t wait to get back out in the world to see our neighbors,” says Host and Executive Producer Robert G. Rose. “Travel has always been a way to heal my soul. It’s been a rough stretch for so many people. I hope that we can help provide some relief and inspiration for those seeking travel’s healing power,” Rose added. 

Raw Travel’s 9th Season will debut in over 170+ US cities in over 95% of US TV homes. The show currently airs each weekend in the USA on broadcast affiliates such as WNYW Fox 5 & WWOR My9 in New York, KCBS 2 & KCAL 9 in Los Angeles, WCVB ABC 5 in BostonKPRC NBC 2 in Houston, etc., with multiple airings each week in most markets. 

Raw Travel continues to expand its international footprint on various outlets worldwide. Viewers can also watch it via several In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) offerings on airlines such as American Air, Delta, Air Canada, Virgin America, and more. The show’s first season can also be streamed on various platforms such as Vimeo On Demand, Crackle, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and Flex, with more being announced soon. Visit RawTravel.tv for more information. 

# # #

ABOUT RAW TRAVEL TV

Raw Travel is an adventure travel & lifestyle series showcasing socially and environmentally aware, independent travel. The series weaves together themes of eco-tourism and voluntourism (giving back) with underground music and authentic culture in a unique way. Each weekend the show is seen in over 170 U.S. cities on major broadcast affiliates as well as in several international territories (Asia, Africa, Europe, etc.). It can also be found on several major airlines and Over the Top (OTT Digital) platforms as well.  AIM Tell-A-Vision Group produces the show and oversees its global distribution. Visit RawTravel.tv for more information.

ABOUT AIM TELL-A-VISION GROUP

AIM Tell-A-Vision (AIM TV) Group is an independent production, content and distribution company founded by media veteran and entrepreneur Robert G. Rose. Since 2000, AIM TV has been producing and distributing positive, compelling content that reflects a mission of presenting “Media That Matters.” Visit AIMTVGroup.com for more information.

Categories
North America

Helping a Pal With Covid Get a Double Lung Transplant

The J. Giovanni Baquerizo Family

I don’t normally promote a personal cause on the show’s page, but there are many people who’ve expressed a desire to help. So here we go – As many of you know, I have a pal struggling with covid for the past several weeks. His lungs have failed, and his only option is a double lung transplant, of which he’s been approved. Because I’ve struggled off and one with a relentless cyberstalker for over a decade, I wanted to keep his identity private, but that is no longer practical.
Giovanni (Gio) was one of my first group of good friends when I moved to NYC, part of a period of my life I didn’t realize would be so important to me. I just knew I was having a blast getting to know a crew of funny, engaging, beautiful people at WXTV Univision 41, where I worked. We were drawn tightly together by the shared experience of working for a silly, silly company culture with a cast of characters running things that were hilarious when it wasn’t enraging—like my commission always getting shorted by some financial guy named “Ernie” in Jersey who couldn’t seem to add 2+2.

But don’t get it twisted. That experience was not bitter but sweet! It shaped my life in unimaginable ways. How could it not? I was from Tennessee and was living in the Big Apple, surrounded by people who were so different from me, yet so very, very much the same. Yes, it’s where my wanderlust first began to sprout.

Gio is a good guy. We’ve thus remained friends all these years. And as you can see, he has a lovely family, five kids, and a lovely wife, Jen, who is TRYING to hold it together while holding down a job. My heart is simply breaking for them, breaking in two, actually.


I’m a softie, but Gio is a hard worker. He had to be. He has five kids, all smart as whips, some receiving full scholarships to prestigious universities. They’re going to be givers… not takers. But they have to get to the other side of this misery with their father first. Right now, they are all holding down part-time jobs to help themselves, and alas, that is how covid entered Gio’s household. People who HAD to work in hospitality, in risky scenarios around other people who did not take things seriously. Many insurance companies have quietly discarded their covid deductible waiving policies. Health costs are going to run into the millions of dollars on this one. I like to give my money to places where it can do the most good, hence my fundraisers for Haiti, Colombia, Guatemala, Laos, etc., and other developing nations. But when it comes to bearing healthcare costs, the USA IS a developing nation. Work all your life, save your money, do the right thing, but don’t get sick, or it’s all gone in a flash. That’s the American dream? Sounds like a nightmare to me. Or a bait and switch.

But this isn’t about politics. Gio and I may or may not even see eye to eye in that regard. I don’t know to be honest, as we rarely discussed it. I’m hard-core. Most people aren’t. That’s okay. I am who I am, and they are who they are. Friendship has nothing to do with that, so long as someone is a good person. And Gio is a good person. If you know Gio, you know this. If you don’t, I hope you’ll take my word for it. And if you have the means, desire and motivation, I hope you’ll help me help his family through this difficult time—nothing too small. $5, $10, or $20 shows love and support, and if not able to give, that’s okay. Your continued prayers and support are and will continue to be treasured.

NO PRESSURE! Just love.

https://gofund.me/e8fc5f57

The J. Giovanni Baquerizo Family
Categories
North America

Christmas ‘ 20 – Five Days & Ways of Giving

I love to travel because it jolts me out of that dull and unfulfilling zone and into a “wow” zone. And one reason I love giving back is how good it feels to take the focus off of me and onto someone else. Giving back is one of the most selfish things that one can do. What a lovely way to be selfish?

2020 has not been kind to travel, but it has opened the door to giving. Even in the world’s wealthiest nation (the US), people are suffering. But imagine the pain being felt in places suffering long before Covid 19 made it’s grand and morbid entrance.

As the 2020 holiday season limps along, it would be nice to shift away from a culture that discounts humans as consumers and allows us to humanize our neighbors once again.

On Raw Travel, we’ve profiled dozens of organizations doing good things in their little corner or chosen field of the world. I thought I’d list a few recent ones for you if you wanted to give to them in someone’s name as a gift this year. We’ve featured dozens, and there are so many more deserving than on this small list of five. But, since there are just five days of giving left before Christmas, I thought I’d limit the list to five. However, if you remember a particular “Give Back” that touched your heart and you’d like to give back in some way, please reach out on social media or email at RawTravel@aimtvgroup.com. We’ll try to hook you up with the best way to give.

This should probably go without saying, but obviously, any day is an excellent day to give back. Be it a birthday, holiday, or just a plain old vanilla Monday, giving can always make the routine day a joyous occasion. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

  1. HIDDEN TOURS JAKARTA – As seen in Season 8’s Episode 801: Going Solo: Jakarta, Indonesia. Our pal Ronny of Jakarta Hidden Tours takes travelers to meet the majority of Jakarta, Indonesia’s citizens and gives travelers an idea of Jakarta’s poor communities’ lives. This not only opens the eyes of travelers but creates an income-generating opportunity for the locals. Ronny donates the proceeds from his tours to the poor families he works with within Jakarta. He helps arrange for travelers to assist in everything from providing health care to books for children to necessary hygiene supplies. I’ve been in touch with Ronny since Covid hit, and it’s been devastating as tourism in Jakarta has dried to a trickle. You can find out more about Ronny and his organization here at https://www.facebook.com/jakarta.tour or by sending a donation via PayPal or email to interkulturjkt@gmail.com .

2) FREEDOM HOUSE HAITI – You may recall our visit to Haiti and our work with Freedom House, an organization rescuing orphaned restaveks (child slaves) and raising them in a loving and caring environment. We’ve helped this organization raise money over the years. This year you can help by visiting their new fair-trade gift site at www.BeautifullyMadeFairTrade.com  . Freedom House’s USA main office is based in East Tennessee. Tennessee residents can take advantage of free 24-hour front porch pickup in Maryville, TN. Others can get delivery in 2-3 days. Find out more about Freedom House Haiti at https://www.facebook.com/freedomhousehaiti or their website at http://www.freedomhousehaiti.com/

3) CASA GUATEMALA – We’ve been working with this great organization since our first season during a brutal eight-week journey through Central America. When we arrived by river boat to Casa Guatemala by the shores of the Rio Dulce River, it was all worth it. We fell in love with the mission of Casa Guatemala. For decades now, they’ve been educating and caring for orphaned children in Guatemala and helping the struggling families in this rural region of Guatemala. We’ve been blessed ever since that fateful trip. It’s where we met our current cameraman/editor Nate, who was a volunteer at Casa Guatemala at the time we first filmed. Little did we know when we interviewed Nate getting his perspective as a volunteer that he’d one day join our team and go on far-flung trips with us to various corners worldwide. Nate is still with us, and Heather and the team are still doing their good work despite the challenges of Covid and Weather-related issues in 2020. Love these guys. It would be a great place to donate in a loved one’s name as I know the money goes to great use. Here is the link, https://casaguatemala2020.funraise.org

4) HUMANOS 3D / Formerly “Enable Medellin” – You will see these guys featured in early 2021 on Raw Travel – Socially Conscious Colombia, but I first met them in 2019. Despite having lived in Colombia for almost a year, I had no idea it was one of the world’s most land mined countries. The resulting number of missing limbs from kids and adults alike is mind-boggling. Humanos 3D uses cutting-edge, open-sourced technology and a network of volunteers to provide the coolest and most useful prosthetics for FREE to those who need them. You’re going to love this organization when you see them, but if you don’t want to wait until 2021 to help, here is a link to their fundraiser for 2020. I’m sure they can use the help, and I’ve seen first hand the joy brought to the hearts of Colombians who’ve suffered too long from the after-effects of a brutal civil war. Find out more and donate here https://humanos3d.org/en/about-us/

5) RED CLOUD INDIAN SCHOOL IN PINE RIDGE SOUTH DAKOTA: One of my most fulfilling episodes was filmed in the United States at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota in the summer of 2016. Much has been documented about one of the poorest counties in the wealthiest country in the world. The gripping poverty, lack of housing, drug, alcohol, and sexual abuse have led to past epidemics of teen and pre-teen suicides on the Oglala Lakota Sioux Reservation. I was so happy we could show another side of that narrative.

We showcased an all too rare hopeful and optimistic vision of the reservation, which is happening thanks to countless volunteer organizations and the Oglala Lakota Sioux themselves. Red Cloud Indian School has been educating Native children on the reservation for decades. They’ve changed a lot over the years. Now the Lakota language and culture are cherished and taught. They have an excellent track record of sending students to major universities, many in the Ivy League. We raised money for the art program at Red Cloud Indian School when we sold Raw Travel, “Still here, still proud!” T-Shirts designed by a local art student on the reservation back in 2016. Education is the key to allowing proud folks like the Lakota Sioux People to pull themselves up out of the horrific cycle of poverty. Red Cloud Indian School is key to this success. Find out more and donate here. www.RedCloudSchool.org

Categories
North America

Happy Holidays from New York City

Christmas 2020 means most of us will not be traveling, or perhaps even carrying on with our typical traditions. It’s Christmas 2020, and we have to accept the situation as it is, not as we’d like it to be.

In matters of public health, we do have some control. It requires us to act in a mature, thoughtful, empathetic, and unselfish manner, traits that are useful and can be honed with international travel.

When traveling, so often it “goes wrong,” and the situation changes beyond our control. We have two choices, throw a temper tantrum like a child and likely make the situation worse, or accept things as they are, control our response and let things flow. I’ve done both and the second approach is far more useful and dignified.


Travel is unpredictable, and indeed, that is part of the appeal, if not the main focus, of independent travel. Those who want everything to be controlled can try a group tour, but even then, things happen.


Some typical examples I’ve experienced personally: the bus in Honduras is eight hours late, and we’re out of local currency, and there are no working ATMs; the directions in Nicaragua aren’t clear because the streets lack signs and we are perpetually lost; we don’t speak the language and are having trouble communicating and must rely on a series of mimes and hand gestures in Slovakia, one tempting one being the middle finger after I’m ripped off yet again by a taxi driver in Bratislava; there’s a strike in Buenos Aries and the trains are not running; thus our planned day-trip out of the city must be postponed; our flight was canceled due to a mechanical issue with the plane, and now we have to spend another night in Accra Ghana rather than go home as planned after 36 hours of no sleep; the people with the Airbnb in Kyiv I booked are not picking up their phone, and I’m locked out in the cold in the middle of winter and no one around that can help… the list goes on and on and on.

When this happens during travel, it’s exceedingly frustrating… and predictable. Yes, after a while, I have learned to expect these things. While it doesn’t make enduring them more pleasant, I am reassured that, in the past, things turned out ok, if not better than I had initially planned. Let’s face it “travel gone wrong” creates the best stories when we’re a few days, months or years removed.

We hopefully learn to adjust and roll with the punches and use that experience when things really go wrong, as in 2020. Not to minimize the suffering of those who’ve lost their lives, livelihood, or loved ones. On the contrary, I respect and empathize greatly what they’ve been through. I recognize how fortunate I have been (so far – knock on wood). I TRY to greet each day with gratitude, not bitterness over what relatively small inconveniences this has caused me. I’m not always successful. Sometimes, more often than I care to admit, I succumb to hopelessness, despair and depression. But then, eventually, the lessons learned from traveling serve as a reminder to “buck up,” “grow up,” and “mask up,” understanding this is next to NOTHING compared to the misery faced by countless ancestors and countless beings on this planet right now.

Wearing a mask is a small ask compared to the relative good it does. Staying home for a few months can be a welcomed change of pace, if we know we’ll eventually be back out in the world again. And let’s face it, this experience has reminded many of us of our relative smallness and unimportance compared to the vast universe and the realization that time will march on, with or without the human race. Perhaps this will inspire a collective shift in how we measure success and our relationships with each other and our mother earth.

A friend of mine typically visits New York City this time of year. She was doing the smart thing and staying home this year, so I volunteered to send her some photos of the Christmas lights in New York City.

I realized that I had never taken in these sights on my own, in my own neighborhood. The reason? The crowds. After living in NYC for a while, I had become anti-crowd. I went to a Rockefeller Christmas Tree lighting only once when I first arrived in New York in the late 90s and have never gone again.


This might be the only Christmas where I can roam, relatively crowd-free, and appreciate the festive beauty that so many millions of people come great distances to see.

As I strolled around last night on an appropriately chilly, wintry evening taking photos, there was still a festive atmosphere in New York City. Yes, there were definitely pockets of people and crowds, especially near Rockefeller Center, the Bloomingdales’ Window Display, and Radio City Music Hall. Yet, the crowds seemed somehow local. They were mostly families with kids, almost all with masks, trying to social distance, and all making the best of a situation they could not control but refusing to let it keep them from enjoying the holidays.


No, we can’t (or shouldn’t) shop till we drop at big department stores, nor can we (or should we) hit big Holiday parties. At least not this year.

We can instead celebrate the silver lining of this moment in our lives. We can rise to the moment to revel in Christmas’s true meaning by giving to others and practicing goodwill towards all our fellow humans.

I’m sure there are many websites with great photos of the New York City Holiday Lights out there, but I’m uploading mine as a gift to you. 2020 was a gift to me that I probably won’t realize until I’ve had a few months or likely years to appreciate. Life changed. Priorities changed. My mortality, which I thought I was all too aware of previously, was cast front and center for a couple of scary months. This usually only happens when one is faced with a life threatening disease or a near-death experience. For me, it was just another, yet more intense, in a line of (so far) near-misses.

I’ve had my share of close calls throughout my life. I barely made it out of my teens and young adulthood alive, and indeed too many of my friends and family did not. Car accidents, disease, plane crashes, suicide, murder, and in the case of most of my family, old age.

Amid the sadness is a small, joyful cue that I am yet alive and their dying gift to me was this reminder. I have again been reminded that I, and only I, can do with this life what can be done. Will I reach my full potential or fall short? I will most assuredly fall short because I am all too human and I have already wasted so much precious time. While I can’t control or change the past, I can impact the future.

I will undoubtedly waste more time and some things will still happen beyond my control, but there are so many things that will occur within it and I will try to waste less of it.

The future is unwritten, and we don’t know what challenges await, but we know there will be some. But we also don’t see what good things await, and this, we also know, will be coming as well. How we react can determine how much of each is in store for each of us.


With that in mind, I say a silent prayer of gratitude for 2020, and yes, I hope 2021 will be better, and I believe it will. Meanwhile, I’m going to seek the light shining through the darkness of this time because, as you can see from the photos, there is plenty of light… if we will just avoid the crowd, go out and seek it.