OpenRoad.TV's McConnell: "the West in your pocket"

John Shinal · June 30, 2008 · Short URL:

Doug McConnell wants to give travelers "the American West in their pocket."

The long-time host of the Emmy award-winning regional travel series "Bay Area Backroads" is using two decades worth of travel segments as the core content for his new Web-based venture, OpenRoad.TV.

That content consists of nearly 1,000 of the best video segments covering trips throughout Northern California and "from Hawaii to the mountains of New Mexico," McConnell says 

Around those gems, many of which feature jaw-dropping photography of mountains and coastlines, the site is adding trip-planning and organizing features to help users discover "the hidden treasures of the West." Most of those stories are told by the local characters whom the Bay Area Backroads crew captured on camera for 23 years, with 15 of those hosted by McConnell.

That lengthy run on San Francisco station KRON-TV will come to an end at the end of July. 

Because Bay Area Backroads focused on down-to-earth places that endure, rather than the latest  hot destination, the segments still have relevance for travelers today, he says.

"Our goal was to always find the insiders who really knew these places, to give our audience an insider's look," says McConnell, who wants to build an online community that shares his ethic of low-impact, no-frills travel.

Eventually, that content will be accessible through a mobile application that OpenRoad.TV members can use while they're traveling.

"The idea is to get our content on the Web, make it easier to access and add all this other good stuff,  then let users connect with other people" who are interested in the same type of travel.

McConnell is looking to raise $250,000 from angel investors or corporate sponsors to underwrite the cost of producing the show for National Public Television, once the show's run on San Francisco's KRON-TV ends in late July.

Once the show is up and running, it will be used to cross-promote the OpenRoad.TV Web site and bring in sponsorship dollars that will be used to invest in the online operations, McConnell says.

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