fWhat follows is intended to be an exhaustive directory to podcasts in which, broadly speaking, Los Angeles is the subject. I’d like to apologize for my neologism, “podography,” but I’m not sure how else to refer to the podcast equivalent of a bibliography, discography, filmography, or webography.
We can thank Ben Hammersley for coining the term “podcast” in 2004, a portmanteau of “iPod” and “broadcast.” Although I’m generally opposed to genericized trademarks (e.g. aspirin, band-aid, chapstick, coke, google, hoover, kleenex, speedo, velcro, xerox, &c), by 2005 “podcast” was so widely adopted that most today would probably struggle to recognize the meaning of the generic “netcast.” Of course, there are undoubtedly still those, in 2018, who are unaware of what a podcast is, for that matter, despite the medium pre-dating the term by several years. Some trace the birth of the podcast back to Adam Curry‘s long-defunct “audioblogs,” whilst others, (including the program’s host), trace it back to Christopher Lydon‘s still excellent Radio Open Source.
Nowadays there are so podcasts that almost never listen to the radio (except for “old time radio” dramas, and even then I stream them online). There are so many good podcasts that I usually listen to them at either 1.5x or 2x, thus allowing me more time to enjoy silence or music. And unlike radio, where one either mutes the station or changes it when confronted with an advertisement, with a podcast one can merely hit the fast forward button to avoid hearing the host or intrusive advertiser promoting their innovative mattresses, underpants, web services, or (most useless of all) shirts designed to be worn untucked.
In recent years, a handful of podcasters have turned to Los Angeles as subject. Usually, the format is similar. A host — or more often two co-hosts — share some Los Angeles history deemed sufficiently obscure. The tone varies. Most are jokey gigglefests but a few are dry and academic. Even when formulaic, I enjoy all of them but compiling this podography has me wondering about what else a Los Angeles podcast could be… perhaps something less explanatory, more immersive, and more abstract — albeit less challengingly abstract than, say, Glenn Gould‘s experimental radio documentaries of the 1960s and ’70s. For now, however, consider the following.
NOTEBOOK ON CITIES AND CULTURE (2007-2015)
After the conclusion of his radio program, Marketplace of Ideas, essayist and host Colin Marshall launched a podcast, Notebook on Cities and Culture, in which he conducted in-depth discussions with artists, explorers, critics, editors, radio hosts, and other cultural creators. Notebook on Cities and Culture wasn’t exclusively focused on Los Angeles, however, and over time he explored to Mexico City, Japan, the Pacific Northwest, and Korea, where he now lives.
YOU CAN’T EAT THE SUNSHINE (2013-present)
You Can’t Eat the Sunshine is the monthly podcast created and hosted by Kim Cooper and Richard Schave, who also lead guided bus tours as Esotouric. In the podcast, the married, native Angelenos advocate for the preservation of Los Angeles’s pre-1980s built environment and interview other Los Angeles historians and preservationists.
HIDDEN HISTORY OF LOS ANGELES (2013-present)
Hidden History of Los Angeles is native Pasadenan Robert Petersen‘s podcast which he “explores the lesser-known aspects of Los Angeles history” with the aid of voice-over actors.
L.A. MEEKLY (2013-present)
VALLEY OF SMOKE (2015-present)
Valley of Smoke is Downey-native/Cypress-raised Alex MacInnis‘s series of audio documentaries about various aspects of Los Angeles culture. Painstakingly constructed, only a few episodes have aired each year.
HOME: STORIES FROM L.A. (2015-2017)
Home: Stories from L.A. was Philadelphia-born Bill Barol‘s podcast which documented famous, infamous, and non-famous residences in Los Angeles and in the process examined notions of home and more. In 2017, Barol announced that the program was going on indefinite hiatus.
SGV CONNECT (2016-present)
OFF PEAK (2016)
Off Peak was Metro’s promising but very short-lived podcast designed to challenge the “car-centric narrative of Los Angeles” by focusing on the rich history of the county’s mass and active transit as well as its future.
LA PODCAST (2018-present)
ÓRALE BOYLE HEIGHTS (2018-present)
Órale Boyle Heights is the podcast in which host Erick Huerta (former blogger behind LA Eastside) conducts long interviews and jokes with various cultural creators from Boyle Heights and elsewhere in Los Angeles’s Eastside.
WELCOME TO LA (2018)
OUR/LOS ANGELES (2018-present)
Our/Los Angeles is a podcast launched in September 2018 hosted by Courtney Nichols. According to its website, “LA is a city of many cities. Diversity in its people, it’s [sic] places and its poetry. Each episode will feature an in-depth look into a specific side, layer, tangent, fascination of Los Angeles. That only someone who lives and loves LA as much as we do would know.” The podcast is sponsored by Our/Vodka and therefore listeners must be 21 and over to stream or download.
ALSO OF NOTE
Jo Kwon Reporting (2017) was journalist Jo Kwon‘s podcast in which she produced three episodes which explored various aspects of Southern California’s cannabis culture. It’s been on hold since 2017 but who knows whether or not Kwon will pick it back up in the future?
Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, essayist, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking paid writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities. He is not interested in generating advertorials, cranking out clickbait, or laboring away in a listicle mill “for exposure.”
Brightwell has written for Angels Walk LA, Amoeblog, Boom: A Journal of California, diaCRITICS, Hidden Los Angeles, and KCET Departures. His art has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft Contemporary, Form Follows Function, Los Angeles County Store, the book Sidewalking, Skid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured as subject in The Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Magazine, LAist, CurbedLA, Eastsider LA, Boing Boing, Los Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA?, at Emerson College, and the University of Southern California.
Brightwell is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on Ameba, Duolingo, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, Mubi, and Twitter.