Abby Huntsman Wants to Get Real with New Podcast — Starting with What She Hasn't Told You About 'The View'

"The list of interesting people that you don't talk about or hear from every single day but are actually doing amazing things is just endless," Huntsman tells PEOPLE of her and her best friend's new interview show

abby huntsman
Abby Huntsman. Photo: Paula Lobo/ABC via Getty Images

"Honestly," Abby Huntsman says, "if there's any headline to take away from this, [it's that] I had to leave 10 years of hosting on cable TV and two years hosting The View to find my voice."

She doesn't mean literally, except maybe a little bit: On Thursday, she and close friend Lauren Leeds debuted their new weekly podcast with Dear Media, I Wish Somebody Told Me…, in which they sit down with a different interesting personality and, hopefully, go there. Hardships, heartaches, moments of revelation and triumph. Small graces and lessons learned.

Guests include celebs like Mario Lopez and Teddi Mellencamp, but also blind Paralympic medalist Brad Snyder ("He made me feel so inspired," Huntsman says) and Ursula Burns, a trailblazing Black woman CEO.

"It's going to be really a mix of totally different people but everyone has made it to the top, whether it's reality television, whether it's business, whether it's military … the list of interesting people that you don't talk about or hear from every single day but are actually doing amazing things is just endless," Huntsman, 35, tells PEOPLE.

She adds: "I had a dream I always wanted to be a therapist, so maybe this is my way of getting some of that out."

For those faces that are already familiar, the podcast should give them a space to show another side of themselves.

Abby Huntsman Podcast

Take Lopez, Huntsman says: "We know Mario, we love Mario, and everything seems pretty perfect with Mario. He seems like a great guy. So I really hope with this interview [we can get into] who's behind all that, who is he?"

Or while talking to Snyder, who was injured by an IED while serving in the Navy, the co-hosts ask him to reflect not only on his continued optimism but also about pulling through his lowest moments. "The hardest part when he first was blind was he would dream, and then he would wake up and be disappointed he couldn't see," Huntsman says.

"I like to dive pretty deep with our guests … certainly places you don't go on cable television," she adds. And she would know, after a years-long tour on MSNBC, Fox News, and then ABC that ended with a stint co-hosting The View, which she departed in early 2020.

Huntsman and Leeds' podcast is not about Huntsman's time in the TV trenches. But it's not not about that, either.

"It took leaving to now totally be me and feel comfortable with what I want to say," Huntsman says.

A podcast like the one she's launched with a friend, in which the pair get to pick the brains of a variety of newsmakers in entertainment and beyond — "honestly," says Huntsman, "this is always what I loved most about media, storytelling and learning from people."

"I don't have to appeal to a certain audience," she says. "Everything I say on this podcast is coming directly from my heart."

That starts with the first episode, in which Huntsman puts herself on the spot and opens up in the most detail yet about her experience on the top-rated ABC talk show famed both for its hot-topics format and stories of behind-the-scenes drama.

On I Wish Somebody Told Me…, Huntsman unburdens herself of her time on The View, which she describes as a dysfunctional environment rife with malicious media leaks that rewarded "bad behavior." It's a very different tone than in her farewell remarks on her last episode.

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Abby Huntsman. D Dipasupil/Getty Images

After Leeds asks when the show became "kind of stressful," Huntsman responds: "That's a politically correct way of putting it."

"I'm never going to be someone that writes a tell-all book, that's just not me, and I'm not going to put names on things," Huntsman says on the podcast. "But at that time, there were executives in charge that I did feel like we were sort of players in their game. And it was about money and it was about ratings and the tabloids. And in order to keep that show hot, you had to just let it all continue on."

While Huntsman says on the podcast she enjoyed some of the work she got to do, in particular some of the interviews, and also forged relationships with some "amazing people" who still work there and were not involved in any of these issues, "I knew the show did not reflect my values."

"I was sad to leave them and I was sad to walk away. But true to form and what made me feel even better about my decision was the way it was handled on the way out," she says. Specifically, Huntsman claims executives urged her in her final days at the show to deny on camera there were workplace issues, as had begun to be reported. When she refused, she says, one executive texted her "that was a mistake" and within minutes The Daily Mail, a British tabloid, had published a story citing anonymous sources that the show had been preparing to fire her anyway.

"In that moment I, honestly, I just kind of laughed," she says on her podcast. "The way that all went down gave me all the reassurance in the world that I made the best decision in the world for myself and for my family."

That closing chapter echoed another leak she describes from early on in her time on The View, when she was asked to see a talent coach as she was settling in as a co-host and then, soon after, word of it was leaked to the New York Post's Page Six.

"I knew right in that moment when I saw that article: It came from within," Huntsman says, adding that from then on her perspective changed. "You stop trusting people around you and then you really feel isolated, you really feel alone."

In a statement in response to Huntsman's comments, a View spokeswoman said: "Twenty-two incredible women have had a seat on the panel and have worked in collaboration with the dedicated group of professionals on our staff. Abby will always remain a part of The View family and we look forward to continuing the conversation with her when she visits next month [as a guest host]."

Abby Huntsman Podcast
Abby Huntsman (left) with her husband and three children. Charisse Photography

In other ways, Huntsman says on I Wish Somebody Told Me…, The View's tone was not a great fit for her.

"Even though I might have had more to say on the actual policy, because I'm not more bombastic or more extreme on it, it's like, 'Well, Twitter's not gonna care about that.' Even though I try to be more commonsensical about things," she says.

"How often I would sit there and I would so badly want to scream and say, 'This is just — stop acting so insane sometimes.' But it took the stronger part of me to hold back, the stronger part to try and be gracious," she continues. "There were times that I did feel on that show that because I tried to be gracious, I tried to just hold back, that you're not rewarded for it. You don't trend on Twitter."

The opportunity to go work on her father's campaign for governor of Utah — which was the official explanation for why she chose to leave — was "a great out, because I had thought about it for a long time."

Echoing what she told PEOPLE in an interview this summer, Huntsman said on her podcast that she repeatedly urged executives to change the show's off-camera culture.

"Every single time they would look at me with a completely blank stare and essentially say, 'You're lucky to be here. This is the show.' Or they'd make you think like, 'Yes, we're kind of working on it, we're doing'— but no, like I said, they didn't want it to change," Huntsman said. "Some of those people are gone now, for the best."

And Huntsman, too, is off to other projects. Like her podcast. (And, as the View spokeswoman points out, she'll be back guest-hosting soon enough.)

Abby Huntsman Podcast
Lauren Leeds (left) and Abby Huntsman. Courtesy Abby Huntsman

"I did feel a sense of relief talking about [my exit]," Huntsman tells PEOPLE of her podcast's first episode. But she's focused now on all the other episodes to come.

And while she jokes that "podcasts are more work than people give them credit for," she is relishing that same work with Leeds — her in Connecticut, Leeds in Los Angeles, writing their own scripts, researching their own questions.

"The vision for the I Wish Somebody Told Me premise came out of our own phone calls and conversations about the big transitions in our lives where we learned so much (including weddings, babies and a new love of magnesium)," Leeds, a writer and producer who has known Huntsman for nearly a decade, tells PEOPLE. "And lots of the lessons we wished we knew before these life moments happened. We kept repeating the 'I wish somebody told me…' line so many times that it became a natural title and theme."

"While Abby is from Utah and I am from New York, and come from opposite sides of many spectrums — clearly Abby is on the thinner, tanner side of those spectrums — we have found that we agree on just about everything that is important," Leeds continues. (Huntsman notes of her pal: "She is like the most awkward, hilarious, dry humor.")

"During this super divisive time, it is so fascinating to have a variety of guests from all over the place and learn from each other's life lessons … Perhaps this more inclusive direction is where all of media goes in the future," Leeds says. "At least I hope!"

I Wish Somebody Told Me… releases new episodes Thursday on all major podcast platforms.

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