My Interview with Don Wildman

DON WILDMAN: OFF LIMITS

Don Wildman doesn’t like fences. He doesn’t like being told he can’t go somewhere. It’s not that he has anything against people protecting their property, it’s just that he doesn’t like it when people are prevented from exploring the world around them. You might expect that, with a last name like his, but he’s made a career out of exploring those places you pass by every day without knowing they are there.

As the host of History Channel’s “Cities of the Underworld,” he turned his gaze down and explored the past by digging under the present. But with his new show “Off Limits,” which premieres tonight (Monday, May 16) at 9 p.m. on the Travel Channel, Wildman is climbing fences and peering around corners, acting as a surrogate for the curious who may have always wondered what was on the other side of that wall, what’s below that manhole cover.

“You do these things in life you really believe in,” says Wildman. He’s on a cell phone, in the back of a car snaking its way through LA’s morning rush on his way to a radio interview to promote the show. “I care about history, the unknown history of this country, and I feel very lucky to be able to explore that unknown history and compile it into a really interesting way to look at a place.”

It’s not hard to tell that he’s being genuine. He speaks with the energetic fervor of a street preacher, impatient to get the next line out before it slips his mind. You can tell this guy is an explorer, imbued with those duel qualities of curiosity and wanderlust that make it hard to imagine him doing anything else – especially sitting at a desk eight hours a day. He can’t sit still, not even in the back of the car. I can hear him shuffling, offering the driver directions. This show, this opportunity, has him too excited.

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