Baratunde Thurston 220

Baratunde Thurston, author and a former Obama White House advisor, became a podcaster last year with his iHeartPodcast Network series How to Citizen. It is gearing up to launch season two. Now Thurston is breaking into television. He will host a six-part series for PBS and Twin Cities PBS. An outdoor enthusiast, the series titled “American Outdoors” will follow Thurston on an adventure-filled journey to explore the diverse array of regions across the U.S. and how those landscapes shape the way Americans work, play and interact with the outdoors. 

“I am thrilled to be working with PBS to bring a series like ‘American Outdoors’ to life and explore the diverse people, places and cultures of this country,” said Thurston. “I'm also just excited to leave my house,” he said in the announcement.

Production on the series is set to begin in April with broadcast slated for spring 2022. PBS says Thurston will meet, among others, modern homesteaders living alongside grizzlies in Idaho, coal miners turned conservationists in Appalachia, and Black surfers catching waves on Long Island. As a warming climate changes where outdoor enthusiasts can go and Americans debate how wild spaces can be made more accessible, the aim of the series will be to reveal a deeper understanding of Americans complicated relationship with the outdoors. 

“Now more than ever, Americans are ready to get outside and explore the beauty of our natural world,” said Bill Gardner, Vice President, PBS Programming & Development. “Baratunde’s curiosity and unique ability to connect with people on a genuine level will take us to some unexpected places during a time of such environmental change, allowing viewers a chance to explore our relationship with the nation’s outdoors in the most original way.” 

As for the podcast’s new season, in it Thurston will focus on how money, capitalism, and the economy have led to divisions tied to the pandemic response, racial oppression, and political violence. 

Says a show announcement: “This season we explore the deep roots of wealth inequality in the U.S., and search across the nation for inspiring people working on solutions. Their stories paint a powerful picture of a new, more inclusive economy that serves many, strengthens local relationships, and gives people not just stability but the time to truly citizen.”

New episodes are distributed by the iHeartPodcast Network every Thursday.