Huell Howser, whose down-home style on public television’s long-running staple series California’s Gold made him an iconic local and national media figure as well as a champion of the state he blanketed, died Sunday of natural causes at his home, according to his station KCET-TV in Los Angeles. He was 67. Howser, a Tennessee native, was a Marine Corps veteran whose burly figure belied his soft nature and wide-eyed interest in his subjects, which spanned every corner of the state and every imaginable tourist spot and personality. (His signature “How about that!” line during interviews in his Southern drawl was always genuine.) Howser officially stepped away from the mic December 31 after his production company told the Sacramento Bee that he “is retiring from making new shows but does not want to make any formal announcements.” Still, his shows are running: KCET is scheduled to air an episode of Howser’s Visiting — one of six series that he hosted that were spawned from California’s Gold — tonight at 7:30 PT, according to its schedule. Howser began his career in Nashville on commercial television, according to his website. After a stint in New York City, Howser moved to Los Angeles in 1981 to be a reporter for KCBS-TV. He joined KCET in 1987 to produce Videolog, a series of short programs featuring the stories of people from all walks of life, which would become the signature California’s Gold series.