Baratunde Thurston Gets His Own PBS Show (Exclusive)

Baratunde Thurston
Courtesy of Mathieu Young

The author and podcaster will host the six-part series 'America Outdoors with Baratunde Thurston.'

Baratunde Thurston has landed his own TV show.

The writer, activist and comedian will host a new, six-part PBS series, America Outdoors with Baratunde Thurston. The show will follow him on an adventure-filled journey as he explores the diverse array of regions across the U.S. and how those landscapes shape the way Americans work, play and interact with the outdoors. America Outdoors is slated to begin production in April for a Spring 2022 debut.

Over the half-dozen episodes, will introduce viewers to a vivid cast of characters whose outdoor lives are shaped by where they live, whether it's modern homesteaders living alongside grizzlies in Idaho, coal miners turned conservationists in Appalachia or 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, Thurston will reveal a deeper understanding of our complicated relationship with the outdoors.

"After a full year in which so many of us have been held hostage by Zoom, I can't wait to be reminded of the many ways we can connect beyond the screen, with each other and with the environment," says Thurston, adding: "The Indigenous communities who have been here longest have long-understood that there's no real separation between us and the natural environment. I'm eager to explore that connection among the wide range of peoples who have tried to maintain that connection all over the country in different ways."

Thurston, the best-selling author of How to Be Black, previously worked for The Onion, produced The Daily Show and advised the Obama White House. He currently has a podcast, How To Citizen with Baratunde, which will return for a second season on April 1. Guests on the forthcoming episodes include Astra Taylor, Heather McGhee, Sam Polk, Noni Session, Stacy Mitchell, Marie Estrada, Bruce Patterson, Ai-Jen Poo, Jamila Medley, Aisha Nyandoro, Tim Phillips and Rebecca Littman.

"After the January 6 attack on the Capitol, it became even more clear how divided our nation is. As we were planning for season two of the podcast, we wanted to explore that division and ways to better live together for the benefit of us all," says Thurston, teasing the new season of the podcast, which is produced by iHeartRadio.

He decided to delve into the economy in the new episode because, as he explains, there's no better indicator of the country's division. "It's like ground zero for American division, and the pandemic has only further separated us from each other. As one of our guests says, 'You can't have political freedom without economic freedom.' Put another way, it's hard to show up as a citizen when you can't pay your bills."

Thurston is repped by CAA, Avalon Management, Heraty Law and Schreck Rose.