PBS Cycling series ‘Pedal America’ debuts in May

Out-Write Media this month will deliver to WTTW the seven-episode first season of its national PBS bicycle travel series Pedal America, edited by Luminair’s Annie Speicher and Scott Dummler.

“The timing is right for a national TV show about bicycling,” says Pedal America host and executive producer Ira David, a former Chicagoan and cycling enthusiast.  “People are trying to be more physically fit and active.  A lot of bike infrastructure is being built.”

Pedal America began production Sept. 26 in Chicago, followed by shoots in Raystown Lake, Pennsylvania; Sedona, Arizona; Napa Valley, California; Savannah, Georgia and Austin, Texas and wrapped Dec. 13 in Tampa, Florida.

WTTW National Productions is distributing the series through American Public Television.  It’s scheduled to premiere May 5; locally on Ch. 11.

Broadcast professional a biking activist

“Pedal America” creator Ira DavidA former TV and radio professional in upstate New York and at CNN in Atlanta, for 15 years David taught journalism and advised the student newspaper at Wright College, a Chicago city college. 

He’s long been active in bicycling for charity: he founded the 4,486-mile New York Education Ride to benefit 9/11 orphans, and he’s participated in rides for AIDS, breast cancer and other causes.

In 2008, David set out to combine his interests in cycling, education and media, ultimately resolving to create a TV show to promote cycling as a safe, healthy, green and enjoyable activity. 

“This is an opportunity to be an educator in a different format,” he says.  “I’m not standing up in front of a classroom anymore.”

With his former producer Nicholas Green, David shot a pilot in ‘09 at WYCC before moving the production over to WTTW and securing sponsorship from Subaru, Better Oats, Jimmy Dean, Hillshire Farm, Trek, Yakima, and Marriot. 

“We’re so proud to have Subaru,” which supplies the show’s main production vehicle, “onboard as a sponsor,” David says.  “It helps to send a message that bikes and motor vehicles can share the road.”

David’s rotating cohosts include Kati Lightholder, Sabrina Diaz, Natalia Munteen, and Carissa Bealert.  Crew includes AP Susan Banach, UPM Stephanie Rabiola, videographers Peter PilafIan, Erasmo Rivera and Andrew Friend, and sound mixer Wil Masisak.  Phil Jurack edited the pilot. 

When WTTW receives the series this month, they will sell to public TV outlets nationwide.  They’re developing season 2.  If all goes as planned they’ll start shooting in May.