AWOL: Air Water Or Land

Season 1 partner CASE STUDY

Our team would like to share a closer look at one of our season 1 location partners, the Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association. The importance of this overview is to share not only their feature in season 1, but also the results of our collaborative work producing b-roll, still photography, regional press, online content, and community buzz and engagement. By utilizing our focus on both the outdoors and the lifestyle and experience outdoor travelers aim to experience themselves while traveling, the AWOL team generated a remarkably watchable, entertaining, and inspiring episode to attract visitors to the region without relying only on direct sales plugs or other gimmicks that can be off-putting to viewers.

Our Case Study will cover the following topics



Our episode and work with Northeast Tennessee took full advantage of the unparalleled creative talent and professional services the AWOL team can offer partners while filming an episode of AWOL. Most importantly, it was exemplary in the authentic visual storytelling and inspirational sense of adventure we aim to achieve for each episode of our series.

The numerous locals featured in this episode put a much welcomed spotlight on the community diversity that makes up this vibrant part of the Southeast, as did the wide range of outdoor activities visitors can come to experience that made the final cut.

AWOL host Angel Verde’s performance in this episode is also a prime example of how key he is to helping viewers find familiarity and accessibility in outdoor travel. His off-the-cuff storytelling, sense of adventure, and cultural curiosity is exactly what our series hopes to inspire. Without a host as captive as Angel, AWOL’s strong visual content could not resonate with as wide of an audience.

Northeast Tenn + AWOL Photos  (18 of 38).jpg

over 40 minutes of cataloged B-roll footage

The Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association purchased commercial licensing to receive a full catalog of B-roll that features footage of each location and activity filmed during our team's visit.

This resulted in 10+ video clips with over 40 minutes of fully organized footage in cinema log format for easy press, media, and marketing use.

So many of our community partners could never afford to commission this level of video work on their own. For that, the b-roll was worth our investment with AWOL alone.
— Alicia Phelps, Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association Director


Northeast Tennessee expanded beyond our standard offering of candid high-resolution photos and production stills by purchasing commercial-ready photography performed by our team's photographer that we can also have on location if partner budgets allow.

Our team's photographer, whose primary role is to capture photos at every location, takes our on-location crew size to 4 people. Although this does increase both the total media buy cost and support/travel expenses for a 4th person, the savings value comes in resources, time, and budget that would otherwise be spent commissioning still photography work independently for the same activities in the near future. Additionally, because of AWOL's established production standard, it allows for a visually uniform product both in stills and video for our partners' networks.

Our photography team delivered over 150 fully edited, high-resolution images for commercial, marketing, and press use for Northeast Tennessee.

SOcial media and Online Content

Details coming soon!


Northeast Tennessee is rich with regional and southern cultural heritage that was just as important to the story AWOL told as the outdoor segments featured. Our segment featuring historic downtown Jonesborough was a glistening example of Tennessee heritage, Southern lore, and how this charming downtown reclaimed its heritage after several years of decline.

Jonesborough has re-emerged as a destination known worldwide for its storytelling, avoiding any chain-based commercialization to boost its economy and instead allowing its distinctive charm to remain intact. Featured is lifelong resident Stephen Callahan who owns and operates Tennessee Hills Distillery, the producer of a modern take on the long-time mountain bourbon (aka, Moonshine). The segment is carried by storyteller-in-residence Sheila Kay Adams, who helps paint the picture of this charming community by finishing off with a storytelling performance.

“You can’t rush a segment like this,” says host and showrunner, Angel David Verde. “We spent all afternoon in Jonesborough. First walking with Sheila Kay Adams, then with Stephen at his distillery and finally, Sheila performing to the group. It feels real because it was real, and if someone visits downtown Jonesborough, they can have a very similar experience because it’s a direct reflection of what is actually happening in town on any given weekend.”



As an outdoor travel series, it’s our responsibility to not only assist in the promotion of tourism to location partners’ regions, but also to do our part to help educate viewers in mindful travel - how to respect and preserve the outdoors while enjoying them as recreation destinations - and to showcase local efforts that continue to preserve and protect these natural resources. Like anything with AWOL, we avoid forcing messages, beliefs, or points of views onto our viewers that could be perceived as political. In Northeast Tennessee, this message was achieved by showing our host participating in the ongoing river cleanup efforts that local outfitter and guide company, USA Raft, does throughout the year, even while on commercial trips with customers. In this way, it’s a brief yet effective way to shows how the local outdoor industry is actively working toward improving the environment in which they operate.


Our host (A Honduran Immigrant) and our crew are very diverse, something that is still rare in both travel media and the outdoor industry. As a series, our goal is to accurately showcase the diversity in the community of each location we film, and Northeast Tennessee was able to assist in putting that message into the episode featuring their region. From segment guests, guides, and locals, we featured a range of born-and-raised natives, transplants, men and women, people of color, ages from 20 - 60+, and members of the area LGBTQ+ community.


“We don’t try to put a billboard on people who fit border demographics or marginalized groups,” says AWOL Production Manager, Lauren Fulton. “In a region like Northeast Tennessee that many may assume is predominately white, Christian and conservative, viewers will immediately recognize the diversity, and those from minority groups will notice the inclusion. This added effort by our team, in conjunction with our location partners, helps shed regional stereotypes to visitors who seek out places that welcome diversity, making them more inclined to visit.”



The Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association was able to budget to host and bring in a small number of our crew for an advance public screening before the episode streamed on Prime Video.

The added investment in putting on a free public screening and bringing back 1-2 members of our crew to a screening event for a Q&A and Meet & Greet session was invaluable for the local public awareness. Northeast Tennessee also worked with our PR/Marketing Team to schedule a press tour throughout the region which assisted in bringing even more public awareness and local tourism interest. Our host, Angel, spent 2 full days during his return visit to take any interviews on area print, news, and radio. In total, the screening resulted in 3 Printed news stories, 3 TV News interviews, and 1 Radio interview throughout the region.

“Local press is powerful for the people who live there,” AWOL’s PR/Social Media Manager, Emily Barker says. “Beyond the local tourism press, a public screening lets the general public get to shake hands and meet people they’d otherwise only see on TV. It’s just a great way to humanize our crew and those who work in the local tourism office, which makes the whole experience of watching their home featured on TV even more personal and special.”


The Northeast Tennessee Tourism Associations ROI has continued its ROI from partnering with AWOL beyond just reaching new tourism and new visitors. Northeast Tennessee will be sharing detailed Analytics with AWOL soon, but director, Alicia Phelps shared the follow.

”We’ve had folks, local and visitors reach out to us and say they didn't know about Margarette Falls and sailing,” Phelps stated about activities and locations featured on the show. “In addition, we had a Eastern Tennessee State University (ETSU) Student sign up for our hospitality and tourism certificate that we offer through ETSU after attending the episode premiere and hearing about us on the radio promoting AWOL. We’ve also had a TON of sales calls from companies who had not connected with us before but learned about us via AWOL. This additional buzz and interest in our organization and mission to promote the region from visitors, locals, and businesses was something we weren’t expecting but are gladding welcoming.”

WATCH our episode featuring NORTHEAST TENNESSEE

~ This video link is unlisted, DO NOT share publicly, on social media, or online. ~