The Insider: An Interview with PBS's Travel Host Darley Newman

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The Insider: An Interview with PBS's Travel Host Darley Newman

“The Insider” column is a behind-the-curtain, day-in-the-life series about the people who make traveling easier for the rest of us. These industry stalwarts make it possible for us to create our own memories.

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Darley Newman is a globe-trotting TV host, producer, author, speaker and entrepreneur. After working at 48 Hours and CBS as well as hosting segments on networks such as Starz and Ralph Lauren TV, Newman founded her own Emmy-winning production company, DCN Creative.

Newman has received five Daytime Emmy Award nominations for hosting, writing and producing her TV series, Equitrekking. She has also been honored with the North American Travel Journalist Award twice for Best Travel Broadcast and the Merit Award for Best Travel Book. Additionally, Newman received the Inspiring Woman Award from Women in Philanthropy and Leadership.

Equitrekking launched on PBS stations in 2007 and now airs in more than 85 countries. Her second show, Travels with Darley, broadcasts to over 94% of the United States and is returning for its third season.

Paste Travel talked with PBS Travel host Darley Newman to discuss the travel industry in broadcast.

Paste Travel: What was the light bulb moment that sparked the idea of broadcast travel for you?
Darley Newman: Equitrekking was my “aha” moment and when I knew I had to create the series for broadcast. I studied radio and television at The George Washington University and though I hadn’t come up with the idea for Equitrekking at that point, knew that hosting a travel TV show was my dream job. I just wasn’t sure how to make that happen. A few years later while working in television in NYC and writing about riding horses around the world, I knew that the Equitrekking concept would make for a great series and Equitrekking was born.

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Taking on Alaska by horseback filming for Equitrekking on the Kenai Peninsula.

PT: Why did you initially decide to focus on equestrian travel?
DN: As a horse and travel lover, I knew that seeing the world on horseback was a truly spectacular way to get into nature, many times reaching destinations that aren’t easily accessible. When you travel on horseback, you unobtrusively see beautiful and interesting areas. In traveling and riding different horses around the world, you also get a window into the history, culture and geography of each place, because horse breeds have been distinctly shaped by their area and history.

There are places that are so well suited to be seen on horseback as well, ranging from the Canadian Rockies, where you’re either hiking or riding to get access to knockout scenery, the vast grasslands of Mongola, the lava fields of Iceland and, of course, Ireland. A great way to take a safari in Africa is on horseback, as you can ride to places that vehicles can’t access, making for special sightings.

PT: What inspired you to start your own production company, DCN Creative?
DN: I worked in television for a few years before I decided to take the plunge and start my own production company. Working at large organizations like CBS, as well as smaller production companies, I was able to see different sides of the production industry and learn how to do many different production related jobs. I also learned about running a production business, everything from accounting to scheduling film shoots to pre-interviewing potential characters. I knew that I had the capability to produce something on my own, but also knew that if I tried to work my way up within a large network, it would likely take a decade before anyone would let me produce. I longed to be out of an office, seeing the world and had the idea for the Equitrekking TV show, something no one else had done previously. Equitrekking was the impetus start to my own production company and actually go out with a concept and fundraise to get sponsors to make a pilot, which kick started the series.

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Mountain biking in the Bridger Teton National Forest outside of Jackson Hole filming for Travels with Darley’s newest season in Wyoming.

PT: What are your goals for DCN Creative?
DN: My goals are to continue to tell good stories and also grow the business in innovative ways. We continue to produce great travel, food and culture content, recently creating an original web series for Scripps Networks Interactive called “Travel Like the Locals” and continuing to regularly produce “Travels with Darley” digital shorts for our channels on AOL and MSN. I’m keeping an eye on the production, media and travel landscapes and looking to grow DCN Creative in smart ways.

PT: As an entrepreneur, how do you balance filming, writing and speaking at events while you travel?
DN: It’s really hard to balance everything and as an entrepreneur, you have to wear a lot of hats. I find myself working a lot, but that’s why it’s so important to love what you do. I think for anyone who wants to start their own business, I recommend that they truly have a passion for whatever it is they are delving into. There are lots of ups and downs in running a business. It’s not easy, but if you can make it work, it’s hugely rewarding.

PT: Do you have a favorite travel spot you’d like to share with Paste readers?
DN: I have a few! I’m really liking Martinique right now and itching to go back. We just filmed two episodes there, and I love the French Caribbean vibes, friendly people, beautiful beaches and variety of unique distilleries and rum. I will be going back, as it’s super easy to get there from my home in Washington, DC.

Botswana, Africa is amazing for safaris and wildlife viewing and has the best stargazing I’ve seen yet, with many areas that still feel untouched. I love Hong Kong for its awesome food and vibrancy. New York City is one of my favorites for all-around fun. Florence, Italy is always a favorite, as I studied abroad there and just have wonderful memories of soaking in the awesome food, wine, architecture and Italian lifestyle.

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That time an elephant charged us while on safari in Botswana, Africa filming for Equitrekking. And Botswana is still one of my favorite places!

PT: What are you most excited to focus on in 2017?
DN: We just completed our 18th half hour of “Travels with Darley” for PBS and we’re not slowing down. I’m excited to continue to tell great stories through this series and Equitrekking and continue to expand the brands online as resources for travelers who truly want authentic experiences.

PT: Is there anything else you would like to add?
DN: If you haven’t seen Equitrekking or Travels with Darley, look them up on your local PBS TV station and watch digital shorts online. We’re finding some truly cool places and enjoying the ride!

Molly Harris is a freelance writer based in Athens, Georgia.

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