WTIU Public Television is offering viewers a look at some of the hidden treasures of Indiana. The new series, "Journey Indiana," premiered its first episode online Jan. 1 and on WTIU Jan. 3.
"Journey Indiana" producer and Indiana University alumnus Jason Pear said the show is a rework of one of their old productions, "The Weekly Special," which lasted 13 seasons. The show was studio-based, unlike "Journey Indiana," which goes out into the field.
"We really decided to take the best of 'The Weekly Special' and bring it into 'Journey Indiana,'" Pear said. "We now get to entice people to go out and travel to the places that we give them a taste of."
The show's two hosts, Ashley Dillard and Brandon Wentz, travel to multiple destinations over the state and uncover Hoosier history, culture and art and the interesting people who make up the state.
Dillard, who received her MFA in acting from IU, auditioned in April after her husband, who works for WFIU, told her about the show.
"This show is nothing like anything I have done before," Dillard said. "I am enjoying the role of a host because it has forced me to go out of my comfort zone.
"I am enjoying the format of the show and having to think on my feet. There is nothing I love more than learning new things and meeting people along the way."
Dillard has known Wentz for the past 15 years and was excited to get to travel around with him.
"I was so at ease when I found out that Brandon was going to be my co-host. We have a natural rapport with each other because we went to school together," Dillard said. "The way we were trained was to always have each others' backs."
The show recently started shooting in November. She said that a lot of the ideas for places to visit have come from recommendations. Every place that "Journey Indiana" travels to gives them more ideas.
"The beauty of this show is that we are getting to experience these places that we never would have known about if people hadn't told us," Dillard said. "We now get to share these experiences with others so they can see everything that Indiana offers."
The first episode of "Journey Indiana" explored the Hoosier Gym in Knightstown, a technology collaboration between IU and the Uffizi Gallery in Italy, a muralist, and a Newburgh couple who grow edible flowers. Dillard said her favorite place to visit was the Story Inn in Nashville, Indiana.
She also enjoyed meeting different artists and touring their workshop spaces.
"I get to travel to these amazing places in Indiana, meet the people that own them and hear stories."
Pear said that IU could not be more supportive with the work they are creating.
"IU gives such a strong backing to WTIU, and we are thankful for that," Pear said. "When we go out into the field, people are excited to meet us because they know IU and the work the university does. We are excited for the future and to try to share as many stories as we can."