GPAA: Gold Trails TV Series to Premiere Jan. 3

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Gold Prospectors Association of America to launch TV premiere of Gold Trails with Kevin Hoagland Saturday, Jan. 3.

Gold Trails with Kevin Hoagland to premiere Saturday, Jan. 3

Gold Trails with Kevin Hoagland to premiere Saturday, Jan. 3

“The whole idea of Gold Trails is to promote the prospecting lifestyle and show people what prospecting really is. I love to share my pursuit of gold with people ...”

Seasoned gold prospector Kevin Hoagland was just nine years old when his mom gave him his first metal detector kit back in the summer of 1970. Today, he is the host of Gold Trails, a new TV series set to debut Saturday, Jan. 3 on local TV stations in California, Arizona and Oregon.

The series, produced by the Gold Prospectors Association of America, will focus on basic gold prospecting and will follow Hoagland as he winds his way across the country on his gold trails, exploring the methods, the machinery and the men who moil for gold.

Gold Trails will premiere Saturday, Jan. 3 on the following local TV stations: KDOC TV — Los Angeles, 8 a.m (LA 56 — Verizon FiOS HD is 506); AZTV — Phoenix, Ariz. — 11 a.m.; and KWVT — Salem, Ore., 11:30 a.m. (available to viewers in Portland)

The GPAA is the world’s largest gold prospecting organization, and has produced several TV series, dating back to GPAA founder George ‘Buzzard’Massie, who had his own TV show, Gold Prospecting, in the mid-’80s. Later, his eldest son, Perry, launched Prospecting America and his youngest son, Tom, continues to host Gold Fever on Outdoor Channel.

Gold Trails has been three years in the making, but is worth every minute of the wait, said GPAA President and Executive Producer Brandon Johnson. He’s confident viewers will feel the same by the time they’ve watched all seven weekly half-hour episodes of this first season.

Though Johnson, who is Tom Massie’s stepson, is carrying on the family business, he has stepped outside of the Massie family for the first time with the choice of Hoagland as the on-camera personality and the public persona of the GPAA. But, Hoagland is first and foremost a gold prospector with solid roots in the small-scale mining industry as well as the GPAA and Lost Dutchman’s Mining Association, so he’s a natural fit. Johnson is convinced Hoagland is the right person for the job of Gold Trails host.

“This is a show that we’ve been passionate about producing for a few years, but the chemistry really needed to be right. My grandfather was a baseball player, and so he built a baseball field. We’ve had the opportunity with the baseball field for a long time, but we’ve been looking for the right players and the right coach. Now, I think we’ve got that,” Johnson said.

In many ways, you can’t go wrong with a subject as good as gold, but Johnson isn’t taking any chances.

“Much like Tom has found gold, and has his collections from different places, Kevin is doing the same thing,” Johnson said.

Although Hoagland had been visible in the mining industry, Johnson was especially impressed with him at a GPAA Gold & Treasure Show, where Hoagland had led a popular seminar on metal detecting. It was apparent then — and still is — that Hoagland’s passion for prospecting floweth over the proverbial cup. And, he has the knowledge and experience to back it up.

Listening to the story of how Hoagland got his first metal detector, and then set out to create a better one, and then explore metals and geology, Johnson was impressed with Hoagland’s inquisitive nature, gumption and gusto.

“I think that says a lot about how Kevin’s mind works ... He wanted to understand how the Earth works. He is very knowledgeable,” Johnson said. “I’ve met hundreds of people over the years at gold shows, but Kevin really stood out — his voice, his presence and his knowledge of prospecting.”

“Gold Trails is really an introduction for the general public to basic prospecting — to a lot of people who haven’t experienced it,” Johnson said. “We’re putting this show out in local markets for a handful of reasons. One is that anyone and everyone can watch it. It’s available in far more homes, and in large markets. We’re also able to work with local advertisers who may want to sponsor the show. We’re also able to work with or partner with local businesses who want to advertise.”

GPAA members are often the mining experts in any given area. They know the terrain and the right equipment to use — not to mention the manufacturers who make it,” he said, adding that Gold Trails will feature not only the mining equipment, but the inventors of many different innovations.

Rather than having six minutes of commercial time for big national advertisers on Outdoor Channel, Johnson hopes Gold Trails will expand from three to 20 different local markets, which means plenty of advertising spots for local mining equipment and prospecting shops.

“Gold Trails to me is about starting that gold rush everyone expected to happen. I think a lot of people have a fascination with gold when the price fluctuates. People get excited about prospecting for gold, but I don’t think many of them know how to get started,” Johnson said. “We’re giving people the next step. The prospecting and mining industry really doesn’t have a show like this.”

And, no other gold prospecting TV series can offer viewers a chance to join a national membership-based organization and go out prospecting on mining claims across the United States. The GPAA also has publications, such as Gold Prospectors magazine, the Pick & Shovel Gazette, and a network of local chapters that Gold Trails viewers can join for free to become part of the small-scale mining community and learn more about the industry.

When it comes to mining rights, Johnson said the GPAA has consistently been a strong voice for keeping public lands open to prospecting, mining and other outdoor uses, such as hunting, fishing, hiking and biking, for example.

“For the last few generations, mining in this country has become something you read about in history, but that doesn’t mean in today’s world that it has gone away,” Johnson said. “It’s still done in other countries very efficiently and it’s a huge part of their economies. And, the way I see it, there will come a time when it will be part of our economy again. It has to. Grandpa said, ‘If you can’t grow it and you can’t mine it, it doesn’t exist.’ ”

And, Massie couldn’t have been more right — computers, smart phones, vehicles and the fuel that goes in them, plastics, electrical wires — virtually everything including the kitchen sink comes from some type of mining.

Historically, during periods of high unemployment or depressed economies, many Americans looked to prospecting and mining on public lands to earn a living.

“We don’t want to lose that access to public lands ... When you go out there and experience it, I think a lot of people get a sense of how important it actually is,” he said. “You are much more passionate about it when you’ve got a vested interest. So, this show is really about getting back to basics and encouraging people to understand prospecting and to feel more connected to public lands and to their rights and what they may be losing if they lose access.”

Many of today’s reality TV shows set the stage for human conflict and drama wrapped around a gold mining theme. The upside is that these shows put mining back on the map in the minds of the mainstream public, but the downside is a negative image of miners and mining.

“I don’t want people to think of mining stereotyped with a lot of drama or that it’s old guys with beards that fight each other all the time,” Johnson said. “We need mining much like carpentry, masonry, mechanics or anything else.”

In stark contrast to stereotypes, GPAA members are often mild-mannered stewards of the land with a great respect for nature as well as natural resources. “They are ‘salt-of-the-Earth’ people, the most accepting people in the world, which really speaks to the purity of what some of us are doing” Johnson said.

His hope for Gold Trails is that it will give viewers a much more realistic view of what prospecting and small-scale mining are all about.

“When you get out and actually prospect, it’s fun. It’s a family activity,” he said. “Gold fever is something that is so natural, you connect with it. Most people will, and they need to be properly introduced to it — and that’s what our show is about.”

Hoagland’s first recollection of gold prospecting is not unlike that of many other miners, but what’s different is the way he tells the story:

“Gold is eternal. And, finding gold is like touching eternity,” he said. “I got my very first metal detector when I was just nine years old because it just fascinated me. My mother asked me what I wanted for my birthday, and I told her I wanted a metal detector. My mom was always challenging me ... so what she did was buy me a kit and I had to build my very own metal detector.”

Anyone who knows anything about gold fever, knows that ‘It’s not about having the gold; it’s about finding the gold,’ and while Hoagland holds true to this credo, he takes it a step further. To him, it’s about finding more gold. The same principle applies to metal detecting. He was never satisfied to simply have a metal detector; he wanted to take it apart, rebuild it and understand how it worked, so he could improve it.

“I thought, ‘It could be better,’ so I started learning about electronics and conductivity and about different kinds of metal. It went beyond gold and silver ... and led me to learning about the Earth. And, to me, the best way to do that is go out prospecting,” Hoagland said.

Since then, Hoagland keeps challenging himself. He has done everything from wandering in the desert swingin’ a metal detector to hard rock mining, at one point purchasing his own gold mine in Arizona. He has picked up the GPAA flag and is marching forward to carry on the Massie family’s living legacy to preserve and protect the hands-on heritage of the North American prospector.

“It’s an absolute honor,” he said. “The whole idea of Gold Trails is to promote the prospecting lifestyle and show people what prospecting really is. I love to share my pursuit of gold with people ... It fuels my passion to be able to help others find more gold. When they find their very first gold. That, to me, is the payoff. I love seeing people find the first color in their pan … You’ve got the tears of joy in your eyes when you are sitting there holding a nugget in your hands. You can’t help it sometimes. It’s just cool.”

Gold Trails is about getting out of the house, getting out in the field and finding gold. It’s about experiencing what it’s like to go gold prospecting.

“Some of the other shows are so unreachable for most people; Gold Trails isn’t. Our show is tangible — sometimes just getting out a gold pan, a pick and No. 2 shovel. I’ve been doing this for so long, and it’s still my greatest thrill. I’ve found a lot of gold over the years. That’s the bottom line,” Hoagland said.

Meanwhile, back at the production studio at GPAA headquarters in Temecula, Calif., Creative Director and Producer Greg Miller is immersed in the editing bay.

“It’s been a long, long road, but on a deeper level, what Gold Trails means to me is a sense of accomplishment,” Miller said. “Gold Trails has come a long way in the three years we’ve been working on the show.”

In the pilot episode, Hoagland arrives at the Alabama Gold Camp near Cragford, Ala. to run dozens of yards of paydirt though Goldzilla, a monster wash plant.

“It’s massive — maybe 40 yards long with a huge hopper,” Miller said. “The process washed all the material down to a couple pans of concentrates.”

Later, in the same 30-minute episode, Hoagland heads to Tennessee to meet up with members of the GPAA’s Coker Creek chapter, where Hoagland showcases low-budget, home-made mining equipment, with a few tricks of his own up his sleeve.

“The point of the show is to get people excited about prospecting,” Miller said. “Prospectors, from what I’ve seen, are chasing a dream ... Being able to get back to your roots by taking a step back and playing in the dirt just like you did when you were a kid gives people hope — being able to dream big dreams of striking it rich.”

While you won’t need a treasure map to find Gold Trails, it’s probably a good idea to set your DVR. But, if you do miss the first episode, Miller reminds viewers they can catch a rerun of the series that will begin the Saturday morning following the seventh episode. The pilot episode of Gold Trails will be also be available on the GPAA website after Jan. 5.

For more information, check out Gold Trails online:

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