HGTV is going on a deep dive into small-town life in its newest podcast, “Townsizing.” Hosted by Anne Helen Petersen, the six-episode series premiered on October 17, 2022. Subsequent episodes will be released every Monday through November 21, 2022.
As Petersen explained in the preview, the podcast aims to answer, “What exactly is the mystique and allure of the American small town? And how do these ideas match up with reality?”
To do so, she will be joined by small-town residents making a big impact, including “Home Town” hosts Erin and Ben Napier, and city dwellers pondering a move.
The series “will explore the many facets of small-town living, including the appeal, the challenges and the sacrifices made to keep these places strong,” according to a press release. “In each interview, she’ll hear deeply personal stories of people with big hearts, big personalities and big love for their special communities and also will talk to city dwellers who daydream about a simpler life.”
Erin & Ben Napier Star in the ‘Townsizing’ Premiere
Petersen was joined by two of the most famous small-town residents, Erin and Ben Napier, in the “Townsizing” premiere. The couple rose to fame renovating their community of Laurel, Mississippi in HGTV’s “Home Town.”
“The interview will delve into the Napiers’ story, including how they met, married and moved to Erin’s hometown of Laurel, Mississippi, and set out on a dedicated mission to revitalize it,” according to the episode description. “Ben and Erin will discuss their role in stewarding American craftsmanship, the biggest misconceptions about small towns and their dream of maintaining their family foundation in Laurel.”
As she explained on Instagram, future episodes will feature “everyday people,” including Traci Thomas, Heady Coleman, Brian Brigantti and Domonick Gravine.
They will talk “about the textures of their everyday lives, what drew them to (or back to) a small town, the ease or difficulty of building community, what you realize you do and don’t miss at all, how to foster and participate in a sustainable economy and more,” she wrote on Instagram.
Petersen Is No Stranger to Small-Town Life
Petersen, a podcast host and author, is no stranger to small towns. As she revealed in the trailer, she has long been a resident of them.
“Given my background, you might assume I live in a city and have always lived in a city,” she explained. “That’s where media people live, right? New York or LA. But no, I live in a small town. Lummi Island, off the coast of Washington state. I grew up in a small town and I went to college in a small town and I taught college in a small town. Safe to say, I love small towns and I spent a lot of my adult life figuring out how to get back to them.”
According to her HGTV bio, she grew up in Lewiston, Idaho. Petersen has also lived in Putney, Vermont and Walla Walla, Washington, the latter of which will be discussed on “Townsizing” per an Instagram post.
“People wonder, don’t you miss having Postmates or a ramen spot just around the corner? Don’t you miss going to Ikea?” she explained on the podcast. “I don’t. Ikea is like three hours away from where I live and that includes a boat ride. You do sacrifice things for small-town life, but to me, there’s so much more you can gain – a sense of community, of belonging, of ownership.”
Petersen is known for her Culture Study newsletter. She has also published four books, including “Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation” and “Out of Office: The Big Problem and Bigger Promise of Working from Home.” She also hosts Crooked’s podcast, “Work Appropriate.”