Payson will buy $19,000 worth of television ads and in return get 100 hours of programming extolling the virtues of a recreation-friendly small town, Tourism Director Cameron Davis told the council on Thursday.
A series of documentary stories about Rim Country will air on 19 different channels, including CNN, the Travel Channel and the Discovery Channel, with a guarantee the program will air in the top 15 markets of Payson’s choice.
“We could never buy that much time otherwise,” said Davis, who said that former football star and commentator Terry Bradshaw will provide the color commentary.
Payson Mayor Kenny Evans said the television producers contacted the town after reading local stories about Payson’s drive to raise an extra 50,000 pounds of food for local food banks and its effort to save Tonto Natural Bridge State Park.
“They were intrigued by Payson — it seemed to them like a real piece of Americana, a community that pulls together,” said Evans.
Davis said the television crew will spend four days shooting footage in Payson during the first week in October. Town officials and others are arranging for the crews to film many local attractions and landmarks, including Tonto Natural Bridge, the world’s largest natural travertine arch.
Payson led an effort to enlist volunteers and raise money to keep Tonto Natural Bridge open for the past two years in the face of a wrenching state budget crisis that threatened to shutter many of Arizona’s 28 state parks. Payson’s partnership effort became a model for many other rural communities, who provided the money and volunteers to keep half a dozen of those parks from shutting down.
The television producers will then fashion several different shows from the footage they plan to shoot in October.
Moreover, the town can then use that raw footage in its own promotional efforts, said Davis.