Huell Howser at the Nisei Week Grand Parade, L...

Huell Howser at the Nisei Week Grand Parade, Los Angeles, California, 19 August 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My husband was such a fan of Huell Howser that he called me from work yesterday when he heard the news.

We both enjoyed watching the venerable human interest reporter with the seemingly endless curiosity about our local treasures.

Howser was such a presence on local public television that most Angelenos may have forgotten that he started in LA on CBS owned and operated Channel 2. At first glance, his “aw, shucks” manner did not seem to fit into the jaded, life in the fast lane aura of 1980’s Los Angeles — but his wide-eyed curiosity, enthusiasm and love of people were infectious. He became a local icon after he found a permanent home at public television station KCET.

I remember a Los Angeles magazine profile proclaiming with an envious tone that Huell Howser had the “best job in the world.” He made a career out of just talking to people — regular people, not celebrities. People who were passionate about what they did. And Howser was just as passionate. He was as fascinated at a trade show for owners of pizza restaurants as he was when he got up close and personal with the Hollywood sign. He visited parks, highlighted obscure people and history — and always seemed to have a good time doing it.

What Huell Howser did so naturally is what I have tried to do here on this blog (that is, when I haven’t been gazing at my own navel). My favorite posts are the ones where I’ve explored something new: a city, an attraction — something that piques my curiosity until I get some answers. I cannot think of a better role model.

Last night, I tuned in to Howser’s show, which KCET continues to air in reruns. I watched him ooh and aah over a music college on Hollywood Boulevard (who knew?) There was an on-air acknowledgement of Howser’s passing at the end of the program (shot two years ago), and no indication that the station would let a little thing like death get in the way of their programming — so we lucky Angelenos can continue to enjoy this man who never lost his wonder of people and the world around him. The rest of you can still view some of his old shows for free on iTunes and on his website here.

RIP, Huell.

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