What 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 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 in 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 (2015-2018)
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 (2018-2019)
Our/Los Angeles is a podcast launched in September 2018 and 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.
WE THE UNHOUSED (2019-present)
We the Unhoused is hosted by Theo Henderson, an unhoused Angeleno who resides in Chinatown. The focus of the podcast is on Los Angeles’s some 60,000 unhoused residents and on the issues that confront them — police brutality, gentrification, health issues, harassment, and hostile political policies.
THE LAND PODCAST (2020-present)
The LAnd Magazine is a print magazine founded in 2018, following years of decline in local media resulting in the degradation or shutdown of LAist, LA Weekly, and L.A. Times. They launched a podcast in 2020.
SGV WEEKLY (2020-present)
SGV Weekly is a podcast hosted by Chris Greenspon that is “your fix of the 626.” Although described as “an alternative magazine for the San Gabriel Valley,” it also covers the 626 side of the Pomona Valley (i.e. Claremont, La Verne, and Pomona), which is of course not part of the San Gabriel Valley.
UNDERBELLY L.A. (2020-present)
WHAT’S NEXT, LOS ANGELES? (2020-2021)
What’s Next, Los Angeles? is the latest Los Angeles podcast focused on Los Angeles politics and progressivism. It’s hosted by Los Angeles city Mike Bonin, who has since 2013 has been Los Angeles city councilman from the 11th District and one of the few progressive voices in Los Angeles city government.
818s & HEARTBREAK: A SAN FERNANDO VALLEY VALLEY SHOW (2021-present)
818s & Heartbreak: A San Fernando Valley Show is co-hosted by Albert Corado, Andrew Warren, and Leah Stone. The shows. Its focus is on the San Fernando Valley and Glendale although the description of it as a show “about the beauty, majesty and mysteries of the 818” suggests that its focus may possibly extend to the Santa Monica Mountains, the Verdugos, and areas of Ventura County since they, although located outside “the Valley,” are nevertheless located within the 818 Area Code (and, for that matter, 747).
WESTERN EDITION (2021-present)
The Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West launched the podcast, Western Edition, in 2021. Its host is historian William Deverell. Each season, so far, has focused on a single topic related to Los Angeles or the surrounding region.
HOW TO LA (2022-present)
West Adams native Brian De Los Santos hosts LAist’s newest podcast, How To LA, which purports to “to drop a little knowledge about ALL the things that affect the people of Los Angeles, whether that’s something that makes our city great (tacos!) or something that we need to work on, like the alarming number of traffic collisions. We serve the curious Angeleno who wants to better connect with our city, discover the new, navigate the confusing and even drive some change along the way.”
ALSO OF NOTE
Never 30 (2017-2018) is the Ventura County Star‘s history podcast, hosted by Andrea Howry. Hidden Hills (2021-present) is a true-crime podcast focused on the Malibu area hosted by Dana Goodyear. The Los Angeles Review of Books podcast is also worth a mention (2012-present).