'Michigan Out-of-Doors' TV: A natural partner for the DNR

Michigan Out-of-Doors logo

Nov. 10, 2016

Some things just go together like bread and butter, fall leaves and football, our state’s world-class natural resources and recreation opportunities and "Michigan Out-of-Doors" television – a premier outdoors show filmed entirely in Michigan, by Michigan hosts and producers.

Episodes take you from your living room to the woods or water every week – 52 episodes a year, which is pretty unique in the outdoor television world.

“We really want to tell a good story,” said executive producer Jimmy Gretzinger. “We tie the episodes to the seasons as much as we can and we really want to have different people at different places around the state.”

Jimmy Gretzinger and longtime cohost Jenny Olsen have worked together for decades to produce an outdoor television show with new content weekly.

Keeping the stories relevant and showcasing a wide range of people changes the story to be just as much about the person as the featured outdoor activity.

"Michigan Out-of-Doors" airs on all Public Television (PBS) stations in Michigan and also in northern Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin and in Canada on some cable stations.

The show is written in a magazine format, which allows for multiple topics to be covered in each episode, which can make for engaging television.

Episode segments range from traditional fishing and hunting activities to wild game recipes, mushroom gathering and even turtle catching. The program also highlights Michigan Department of Natural Resources rules changes, hunting and fishing forecasts and important legislative issues.

“Keeping everyone engaged and aware in the outdoors and enjoying the place for natural resources in your life is important,” said DNR wildlife outreach technician Katie Keen. “'Michigan Out-of-Doors' television (MOOD-TV) does that, they are connecting people to the outdoors every episode, from your computer to your television at home. You are just more aware of what’s out there for you to try or learn about.”

Television watchers who miss the new weekly episode on Thursday nights can always see the latest episodes on the show’s website. Episodes from years ago are also available online – showing when crucial regulation changes were happening or when chronic wasting disease was first discovered in southern Michigan.

A screen capture shows an episode of Michigan Out-of-Doors television from earlier this year about the Michigan conservation officer academy.“MOOD-TV has been a great outlet to get DNR news out,” Keen said. “The show has an audience that is actively interested and is using the natural resources, providing a great platform to deliver important DNR information.”

Starting back in the 1950’s, the program was originally called "Michigan Outdoors" and was hosted by Mort Neff, followed through the years by hosts Fred Trost and then Bob Garner.

Michigan United Conservation Clubs purchased the show in 1993 and it was renamed "Michigan Out-of-Doors." Abby Burke, Claudia Hitchcock, Kelly Gotch and then Jenny Olsen were co-hosts over the years and most recently, Jordan Browne and Gabe VanWormer have joined the show.

Gretzinger is from Ludington and was raised with a passion for the outdoors. He joined the "Michigan Out-of-Doors" team in 1998 and became executive producer three years later.

Co-host and producer Jenny Olsen grew up in Ortonville, part of a family of hunters and anglers. She became co-host of the show in 1999 and later, associate producer. She also worked for two years as producer and co-host of Michigan Out-of-Doors radio on WJR in Detroit and for a while lived in Texas, beginning in 2005, working as an editor and videographer for Ted Nugent’s "Spirit of the Wild" television.

Jordan Browne works on the program as an associate producer. He grew up in the south-central part of the state, spending most of his adolescence near Ionia. His work with the show began as a part-time cameraman.

With the DNR’s renewed focus on recruitment, retention, and reactivation of hunters and anglers across Michigan, the program is a great bridge from the DNR to those who already have an interest in the outdoors.

Many episodes have a youth aspect – someone tagging his or her first deer or turkey or maybe just along with family at camp. Multiple generations are featured so everyone can relate.

In 2009, the show started to air viewer-submitted videos. This provided even more great real stories of people creating the memories of their lifetime outdoors, inspiring others to get out and try it – to do something new.The Michigan-Out-of-Doors Team is shown, from left, Gabe VanWormer, Jordan Browne, Jenny Olsen and Jimmy Gretzinger.

“About 60 percent of the different activities on the show come from the viewers contacting us and saying, ‘Hey, we are doing this,'” Gretzinger said.

The show is just as much derived from the viewer, with the story line and high-quality video footage in the hands of the show’s talented staff.

"Michigan Out-of-Doors" also has showcased new Michigan outdoor products, helping to fill niches for hunters, anglers and even outdoor cooks.

“Technology has changed the way we produce the show, but the way we tell the story hasn’t,” Gretzinger said.

For more information on the program, visit the Michigan Out-of-Doors television website.

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