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Five Spot: Robert Rose, Producer/Creator/Host, ‘Raw Travel’

On Oct. 3, stations in 174 cities covering 95% of the U.S. will kick off the eighth season of Raw Travel, the syndicated adventure travel and lifestyle series created, produced by, starring, distributed — and pretty much everything else — by media entrepreneur Robert Rose. 

The former Univision sales executive, along with his independent production and distribution company, AIM TV Group, have become fixtures in first-run weekend syndication over the last 20 years, first with culture/lifestyle series American Latino (2000-2009), before launching the show Rose says “showcases socially and environmentally aware, independent travel.”  

(Image credit: AIM TV)

Think of an affable, Gen X version of Anthony Bourdain, with the media-business hustle parts of Byron Allen thrown in, and you get Rose, 53.

When Multichannel News senior content producer, technology Daniel Frankel caught up to him in early August at his New York apartment, he was doing something not that unusual — packing up for a trip. Turns out he was only taking his second sojourn of the pandemic, to visit a friend in the Poconos. 

Indeed, for the Tennessee native and veteran New Yorker, who now calls whatever hammock he’s commissioned “home,” these last few months of mandated quarantine have been particularly austere. Fortunately, for these last five months, Rose has been able to sift through gobs of unaired footage from pre-lockdown sojourns to destinations including Lithuania, Ukraine, Turkey, Colombia, Indonesia, Jamaica, Ethiopia and the Republic of Georgia to craft an eighth season of Raw Travel. “Travelers miss traveling, and viewers need a dose of optimism, love, and hope,” he said.

“I’m so grateful that last year, I said ‘yes’ to so many travel opportunities. 

What was your favorite Raw Travel destination and why? It’s impossible to have one favorite, but my trip to visit the tribes of Southern Ethiopia and the amazing city of Istanbul, Turkey last summer were mind-blowing and life-changing adventures.

I mention the remote tribes of Southern Ethiopia because I hung out with people still living like they have for centuries. I say Istanbul, because they were so warm and hospitable. I was super bummed at the time over a personal situation and travel, as usual, came to the rescue and put things in perspective for me.

What was your least favorite? Again, this is very tough to answer, but I’d say parts of Honduras are kind of “once is enough.” And I’ll also mention Chernobyl, Ukraine. If you’ve seen one disastrous nuclear travesty, you’ve seen them all.

How has the show been able to move forward amid COVID-19? Luckily, I didn’t say no to any travel opportunities in 2018 or ’19. The result was a glut of content to edit. Filming and traveling is the fun part, after all. Now, my choices are easy. Write scripts and edit that glut of content. It is all that we can do right now.

Do you think COVID-19 will permanently impact travel?  Yes, and that’s not a bad thing necessarily. Traveling, whether internationally or domestically, was becoming unsustainable for many ‘over-touristed’ destinations, and the planet needs to heal. Hopefully, this will give us and the planet pause on how we move forward.

Why do you think Raw Travel has connected with its audience for so long?  I was as shocked as anyone when it did, but I just went with my gut. I knew authentic travel was grossly under- and misrepresented on TV. I wanted to address that any way that I could.

BONUS FIVE

What shows are you binge-watching? Thanks to COVID-19, I’m running out of shows! Like everyone else, I binged Tiger King and The Last Dance. Also Netflix’s Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich and HBO’s Welcome to Chechnya and Draining the Swamp.

Which streaming services do you subscribe to? Amazon Prime, Netflix, HBO and YouTube TV. 

What book(s) are you reading right now? The Jakarta Method, Just Mercy, Chasing the Light by Oliver Stone.

What’s your favorite podcast? I’ve been interviewed on a few, but haven’t gotten hooked on any yet.

How many times have you left the house this week? I live in a small NYC apartment, so I leave the house every day to work out, walk, run, etc. Right now, I’m in the Poconos, visiting a ‘safe’ friend’s family, but it’s the first time I’ve been anywhere outside of NYC in over two months … and only the second place I’ve been since March.