Damn, no trust fund!

How much does PBS pay you for each episode? This question is always near the top of the FAQ list. People assume that if you have a show on PBS, they are paying you for it. Not exactly…

Here’s a crash course on how funding Passport to Adventure, on public television works.

I am an independent producer, meaning I raise the money and pull together the team to create the program. The bad news is raising money is TOUGH, the good news – I retain all control and rights to the program. (I also host, write, plan the shoots, oversee the editing, and handle all of the distribution and marketing of the series – good thing I love what I do!)

To cover costs and pay myself, I have to interest a few companies in underwriting the series on PBS. As an underwriter, companies get a “credit” at the beginning and end of each episode, in all airings on PBS. When it says, “this program is made possible by XYZ Company”, we mean it! Without these sponsors, programs like Passport to Adventure would not be on the air. The most difficult aspect of this funding model is, that it requires producers to compete in the advertising sales arena, with a huge handicap – FCC regulations severely limit what a credit spot can say on non-commercial TV. These restrictions, and the PBS independent station structure, make it challenging to convince a company to spend their dollars with us instead of on a commercial TV advertising package. One of our biggest selling points is that you, the PBS viewers, value a company’s support of quality, non-commercial TV programming, and therefore will buy their products!

So, the reality is, Passport to Adventure is truly a labor of love, an outpouring of passion for something we believe in. We all make a living, but we could make a lot more doing something else.

To make this endeavor financially viable, there are three avenues – get sponsors, creatively piece together small revenue sources – website/blog monetization, international sales, retail products, etc, OR,  have large trust fund. Unfortunately, there’s no trust fund in my past, or future, so I rely on creativity and perseverance!


Live small, Travel BIG!



2 thoughts on “Damn, no trust fund!”

  1. Dear Julie,

    Thank you for keeping me on your mailing list! Sorry to hear about the trials and tribulations, but indeed these are challenging times and people get panicky (and sometimes do foolish things). Our Yangzi adventures together were so much more adventurous and difficult than your viewers will ever know…though the cruising for our passengers was very smooth indeed. Your crew was amazing then and it looks like you have a great team now!

    Glad you are hanging in there and pulling things together for 2012. Your calm and sensitive way of exploring and sharing the world is greatly appreciated and your travel ethics are supreme!

    I am still looking forward to seeing you back in the “east” again. Sorry not in a position to find funds for you. However, should you be thinking about going back, I’d like to share this contact with you:

    Tamdin Wangdu, Colorado resident and founder of non-profit Tibetan Village Project and http://consciousjourneys.org/about

    He is a great guy and has been doing amazing work, including organizing ecotourism training for Tibetan tourism professionals with a program that brings them to Columbia University for seminars then to site visits in Colorado and the Four Corners region.

    I feel our society has lost its footing and that profits and non-profits that share same ethical standards need to strengthen ties and be mutually supportive. Aside from my new career as a public librarian, I am on the board of a small, private non-profit museum and historical building site (tibetanmuseum.org … new website in the works) and do we know how hard it is to find money! But, we have confidence that strenthening ties directly and indirectly with like minded, ethical organizations and individuals we will survive and flourish. [Build good karma, keep in touch with good friends. Be creative, use new technology well, reach out and reach out some more.]

    You never know what connections among us can do.

    Wishing you the best and I believe when the time is right our paths will cross again.


    Kathleen Xi

  2. So sorry to hear about your latest challenges. Love your show and the blog. If you want to do another story about Winter Park, FL contact me and I’ll donate rooms for you and your two crew members in my condo just a block off of Park Ave. I love living in Winter Park with its shops, restaurants, college, galleries, museums and most of all the people. We are a wonderful small city loaded with culture and friendly people. I had a ball at Park Ave. Fashion Week last week and once again this year treated myself to a VIP ticket…lots of parties and fashion events and sales in the weeks leading up to the big runway show last Saturday. There is always a festival or event going on here…never a dull moment!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *