RV Television Show Markets Industry, Lifestyle
For the second straight year, “Rollin’ On TV,” the nation’s leading weekly RV lifestyle television program, will broadcast the annual RVBusiness Magazine RV Of The Year Awards Show on Jan. 9 at the RV/MH Hall of Fame Museum/Northern Indiana Event Center in Elkhart, Ind.
RVBusiness magazine is a sister publication of Woodall’s Campground Management.
The awards program is scheduled to air the week of Jan. 29 before ROTV’s potential audience of close to 40 million homes on both cable and satellite TV.
“We’re delighted to partner with RVB in bringing this award public so RVers around the country can see which RVs and which companies made the top five on the list and who won RV of the Year,” said ROTV Executive Producer José Moniz, adding that about 80 people are expected to attend the invitation-only taping as part of an industrywide program sponsored by Dicor Corp., Airxcel Inc., Cummins Inc. and Thetford Corp.
Co-hosts for the 2017 show include Jeff Johnston, ROTV host and associate producer, and Colleen Bormann, news anchor for WBND, ABC 57. “We’re excited to have Colleen with us this year as she definitely has ties to the RV industry with her husband, Kevin Wilcox, working at LCI (Lippert Components),” Moniz added.
Moniz took a break from writing the script for Johnson and Bormann to answer a few questions from Woodall’s Campground Management about ROTV, including announcing the addition of Mark and Dawn Polk of RV Education 101, a multimedia business that advises enthusiasts on RV care. Moniz, in turn, said ROTV would soon be adding another 50 million households when it begins airing on a major Spanish network later this spring.
WCM: Tell us how “Rollin’ On TV” all came about?
Moniz: “We started producing a boat show, which was called ‘Boating Today,’ back in 1999 and started airing in 2000. At the time it was one of the first boating lifestyle shows out there. I love boats – I used to work on them, and paint them and customize them. It was one of those things where I was watching TV and I was watching knitting shows and cooking shows and I said, ‘There’s not a boat show out there. Why don’t I do a boat show?’ Of course, I didn’t know diddly about TV. It was just something that I wanted to see.
“So, I brought together a good staff from the local ABC station, people who knew what they were doing, and we put a show together. It quickly became the No. 1 boat show that was out there, even after four or five competitors started up.
“We did that until about 2007-2008 when the economy sank. It hit the boat industry worse than the RV industry. We just had to pull the plug. Nobody had any advertising money they could spend. So I started thinking about things for about a year and then it dawned on me: even though they’re somewhat competitive industries, the RV industry is making a comeback. So, I started looking into it and decided to do an RV lifestyle show. This was back in 2010.
“I didn’t know beans about RVing until I met up with Jeff Johnston, who had been with Affinity Group (former Camping World/Good Sam parent company) for some 27 years. He’s a very honest and hard-working fellow. He knew the industry and products inside out. So I brought Jeff on board and he became the knowledgeable insider that I needed in the RV industry. It’s been a winning formula with Jeff ever since.”
WCM: Tell us about the rest of the “Rollin’ On TV” staff.
Moniz: “We’re small. I’ve got Mike Riley as our editor. In fact, he was involved way back with our boat show. He actually works most of the time with a PBS station in New England, but he’s been our full-time editor for the last six years, and he does some camera work for us as well.
“We also work with a half dozen TV production people across the country in order to get shows filmed in various states, including our Elkhart/South Bend production partners, PentaVision Productions from South Bend, the production company again for this year’s awards show. These days it’s easier to have a camera crew available at various places with all the equipment at hand as opposed to trying to bring everything you need for a shoot on a plane.
“More recently we brought on Michelle Fontaine. I call Michelle our ‘Social Media Guru.’ Our show had been growing and growing over the years. But — and maybe it’s because of my age — I’ve been oblivious to the social media thing. I just don’t live online with those things. But when we started looking at the growth of it, I couldn’t ignore it anymore, so I brought Michelle on. She’s been like the guiding light on that end.
“She came on board six months ago and right from the start she got us going on social media. I remember saying, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me; people don’t watch TV online.’ She said, ‘No, they do. Let me show you.’ So she got us on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and whatever the hell else is out there. All of a sudden, 60 days later I get this sheet in front of me saying 80% of the people watching your show online are watching on mobile devices. All of which meant we had to revamp our website to fit this type of media.”
WCM: Are you planning any changes for the show this year?
Moniz: “It takes a while, but all of a sudden you’ve built a following with the TV audience. And once they’re comfortable with things, they’re notorious for e-mailing you comments: ‘I like that show you did’ or ‘I didn’t like that show’ or ‘Why don’t you do this?’ We try to listen to viewers, and a couple of years ago one of the big things we kept getting was, ‘We can’t get out to go see the factories, so go to the factories and show us how they build RVs and what goes into them.’ So that’s why we started that inside feature segment where we started visiting companies. And we still do that because people are still interested.
“But in the past year — and I don’t know if this is because of all the new RVers or what — but a lot of them are now saying, ‘Show us where to go and what to do in our RVs.’ In other words, they’re interested in the lifestyle, and not necessarily RV parks but events like the hot air balloon races in Albuquerque or even off-the-wall stuff like the Garlic Festival in Gilroy, Calif. — places they can go in their RVs to have fun. So we’re making the shift over to a lot of destination stories now. Wherever RVers are, that’s where we’re going.
“In the final analysis, what we try to do is help maintain the current RVers and keep them interested, but 18% of our audience doesn’t own an RV. So we want to make sure we pique their interest and get them going on it.”
WCM: Any other ROTV updates you’d care to relate?
Moniz: We’re bringing in people to our show that we feel are great stories, like Dawn and Mark Polk. They’re a fantastic couple and they’ve been doing RV Education 101 since 1999 or so, which is a real service. New RVers really don’t get the orientation; a dealer gets them going and that’s fine, but you get out there and there’s 50 things you don’t know compared to the one thing you do know. You may ask the guy at the next campsite but he may be right and he may be wrong.
“So Dawn and Mark will occasionally produce five- or 10-minute segments on what to do properly with your RV, such as how to maintain it or drive it or whatever. They’ll be filming stories specifically for us that we will air on the show. We’ll also have that footage and story on our website. We’ll also do some stories where we will fly Jeff down to the Carolinas where the Polks live, and do three or four stories with them all together on specific subjects.
“The other thing we’re doing is bringing in topics that have to do with women. It’s just a matter of listening to the viewers and giving them the stories that they want to see.
“Another big thing that we’re working on this year is we’ve been going after the Spanish market for over a year-and-a-half. It’s been a tough nut to crack, but it looks like this year we will actually be airing on one of the major Spanish networks. Our show is captioned in Spanish, but for this network it’ll be dubbed in Spanish. I think it’s a huge growth market. It should happen sometime in the spring. That will give us another 50 million homes; I think it’s something like 75% of the Spanish population watches this network.”
WCM: Is the program at a point now where you envisioned it might be?
Moniz: “Yes and no. It’s taken a little longer to get the program rolling. Even though we had a very successful boat show, the people in the RV industry didn’t know us from anything. So it took a little longer to build our credibility than I thought it would. Even Jeff mentioned this: when we first started doing the show, we’d call somebody up and ask for an RV for the show. It was, ‘Well, we don’t really lend them out.’ Now I can pretty much call up any one of the manufacturers and in a matter of a week I’ll have a Class A motorhome, or even two if I need them for a story.”