AUSTIN — KSMQ’s original program “Let’s Go, Minnesota!” will soon reach a nationwide audience.
The 14-episode series, shot on location in 2018 and 2019 at parks and wildlife areas around the state, will air on Create TV every Monday at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. for 14 weeks beginning March 1.
Create TV, which airs food, travel, cooking, craft and other “do it yourself” programming, is carried by most PBS stations. It reaches 44 million viewers nationwide, and is produced and distributed by American Public Television, WNET New York, WGBH Boston and PBS.
Austin-based PBS affiliate KSMQ airs the network on broadcast channel 15.3.
Each episode of “Let’s Go, Minnesota!” features an artist from Southeast Minnesota who helps guide viewers on a tour of a park or natural area and then creates a work inspired by the trip.
Curtis Ingvoldstad, a chainsaw sculptor from Nerstrand, hiked to Chimney Rock at Whitewater State Park in Altura with state naturalists, a KSMQ production team and show host Brenda Piekarski to film an episode in 2018.
He remembers the early autumn day was warm and muggy. He also recalls the view.
“I don’t think I had been on that particular trail before,” he said. “I didn’t realize how cool it is, how many features there are in those canyons.”
Afterward, Ingvoldstad created a sculpture while the cameras rolled depicting features and wildlife at Whitewater State Park.
A revving chainsaw and flying sawdust certainly make for an interesting spectacle. That’s one reason Ingvoldstad enjoys the medium.
“It’s very much some cross of motocross and an art demonstration,” he said.
Including artists on the show was the production team’s twist to make it unique.
“The production crew came up with that particular gem,” said Eric Olson, president and CEO of KSMQ. “All I said was, 'Make it different.' ”
Stephanie Passingham, a former producer at KSMQ who worked on the show, said the idea was to give the show special appeal and to fulfill requirements of a grant through the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.
Passingham and managing editor Matt Bluhm put out a call for artists around the region.
“They really stepped up,” she said of the artists who responded and participated. “We had people with patience, a spirit of adventure, and a lot of camaraderie on the set.”
Olson said that feature likely helped the show catch the national network’s attention.
“Hearing someone playing trombone while canoeing — that’s interesting,” he said, referring to an episode with 507 Magazine’s own John Sievers paddling on the Cedar River near Austin.
Each episode required a team of audio, camera and technical producers working a full day in the field.
The first season was shot in 2018, then edited and produced for broadcast in 2019, when filming for the second season began. The second season aired in 2020.
For now, the show is on hiatus, Olson said.
However, making the complete 14-episode package meet Create TV's technical standards took producer Kevin Hanson another round of hours of production time.
Olson said he was glad to see the show get picked up by a network.
“As a manager, it’s great to see your staff get some recognition,” he said.
Where to watch
What: "Let's Go, Minnesota!"
When: 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday, March 1
Where: Create TV (Channel 15.3 in Austin); also available for streaming through KSMQ's Passport subscription service.