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Have camera, will travel

Portland's PDXposed shoots for the big time with a new venture on its 'Next Stop'
by: Jeffrey Basinger, Jon Olson, executive producer and creator of the 
 local show “PDXposed,” works with his crew on their new project, “Next Stop,” in front of the Alberta Rose Theater during the Last Thursday Art Walk on Northeast Alberta Street.

It started with destination unknown, an idea dreamed up by a self-taught editor and a fledgling TV personality. 'PDXposed' became reality on local television and its founders/dreamers are working toward their show becoming nationally recognized.

Their next step is 'Next Stop.'

Executive producer Jon Olson and his crew have been shooting for the start of their new travel program, as 'Next Stop' hits the airwaves Jan. 1, 2011, a day after 'PDXposed,' a locally produced TV show that has highlighted people, places and things around Portland and Oregon for eight years, signs off.

At a time when television shows, among other media entities, have been hard hit by the industry's staggering economic woes, the people at 'PDXposed' and 'Next Stop' keep surging forward.

'Next Stop' will be about destinations around the United States, evolving from the original intent of 'PDXposed,' which aired first on Comcast's CNW 14 before moving to KGW (8) and to its current location at PDX TV (13) at 8 p.m. Saturdays and KPTV Fox 12 at 6 p.m. Sundays.

Time slots for 'Next Stop' will be the same, but Olson has been working on expanding the reach of the program to markets in Hawaii and the Midwest, and perhaps through a national syndicate. Through a deal with potential title sponsor Alaska Airlines, parts of the show could be shown on the Northwest airline's website and on in-flight entertainment and digital players.

It's an exciting time for Olson and his crew of communication coordinator Julie Joachims, editor Josh Martin and chief cameraman Mike Ferry. Through the years, their TV show hasn't always provided them with a steady paycheck, primarily because it has been without a season-long sponsorship.

With Alaska Airlines and other sponsors potentially joining forces, 'Next Stop' could be their ticket to national exposure someday, they hope as part of the Travel Channel.

'I'm sure hoping so,' says Olson, a Rapid City, S.D., native who moved to Portland from Los Angeles 14 years ago. He lives half the time in Honolulu - where he met his wife while filming a 'PDXposed' episode in the islands.

'Josh and I are doing it for a living, but (Julie, Mike) are not. Julie has a day job and Mike has other projects. The goal is that this will be a full-time job for everybody, and grow it into a national show.'

Olson has been working with Alaska Airlines, already filming 'Next Stop' shows in Chicago and Alaska. The idea is to feature Alaska Airlines destinations, with Hawaii, Boston, Austin (Texas), Miami and St. Louis in the plans - if the arrangement with Alaska Airlines comes to fruition.

'We don't have anything official, but we've worked with Jon on 'PDXposed' segments,' says Susan Peterson, Alaska Airlines advertising and promotions coordinator. 'As he transitions into 'Next Stop,' we've had good discussions.

'We have great interest in having these discussions and being more involved and putting together more comprehensive travel segments. It's unique. … We would just be one partner. He has a network of people he's talking with. It's been a positive experience.'

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TRIBUNE PHOTOS: JEFFREY BASINGER • Senior editor Josh Martin works on sound for 'Next Stop,' a documentary-style program about destinations around the United States.

Forging a partnership

Olson, 45, has a motto of being 'fun and positive,' which has been the theme of the show. There have been about 175 'PDXposed' shows (all archived on www.pdxposed.com), starting from humble beginnings eight years ago.

As the story goes, Olson got a call from Martin, then recently graduated from McNary High School in Keizer.

'I'll never forget the day,' Olson says. 'He says, 'I'm Josh Martin, I'm 19 years old, and I've never had classes in editing, but I'm a really good editor and I got this new idea for a show and saw your hosting work for another show.'

'I wasn't doing anything else at the time.' He went to Martin's apartment, which happened to be a bit cluttered and thought, 'What have I got myself into?' Once Martin found his computer, he showed Olson some of his work. The two forged a partnership, started making shorter shows and, soon enough, 'PDXposed' made it on CNW 14.

'I built the PC I was editing on,' says Martin, 28, recalling the early days. 'It would crash all the time. Our first day was hilarious - 'Sorry guys, can't lay graphics today, gotta fix the computer.' You work with what you have.'

Through its stops on the television dial, 'PDXposed' has stuck with the tried-and-true format of featuring spots on local musicians, sports, art and benefits. The crew has no shortage of ideas, Joachims says.

'I do the booking and communication, and everybody thinks their cousin's naked wedding would be worthy of being on the show,' jokes Joachims, 49, a longtime Oregonian who works in managed health care. 'It's really interesting some of things that people think are TV worthy.'

Olson figures 'PDXposed' has featured many things Portland and Oregon, but branched out to other locales simply to follow the marketing money.

Sapporo Beer and the Sister City Association sponsored five shows in Sapporo, Japan. Lufthansa Airlines backed segments on Germany. And, Olson has worked contacts in Hawaii to do several shows in the islands - 11 of them.

Olson's three favorite moments:

3) Ice bar hopping in Sapporo during its snow festival.

2) Taking a helicopter ride over glaciers in Alaska, doing an intro to a show from the Mendenhall Glacier outside of Juneau.

1) Swimming with the dolphins on the Big Island. 'That was unbelievable,' he says. 'Three-hundred spinner dolphins swimming in the Pacific. We all walked out of there saying, 'Oh, my God, that was good.' '

Non-greedy people

The 'PDXposed' people started a company called The Digital Studio, which also does radio and television commercials and other projects.

All the crew members, and other assorted contributors through the years, often worked for free. Olson says he financed the first three years of 'PDXposed' through his medical sales job.

'It'd be nice to have a whole (season) show sponsored,' Joachims says.

'I'm excited to see where we're taking it,' says Ferry, 31, a Milwaukie resident and University of Oregon graduate.

'We're like a family,' Joachims adds. 'Jon has made this his dream job, he always wanted to host a travel show. In his eyes, 'PDXposed' was baby-steps to get to his goal. We've wanted to make it the best we could, so maybe somebody could support us.'

The key to success?

'We have talented, non-greedy people,' Olson says. 'If we had greedy people who needed to get paychecks every month, no way we could do it.'