Southern California is known for its palm tree-lined streets, sandy beaches and mountainous landscapes – scenery enjoyed by its residents on a daily basis, but mostly viewed from their windshields as they inch their way through traffic-loaded commutes. With so much time spent in vehicles (and at work, school, gym, etc.), many have tuned in to the ever-growing culture of binge-listening to podcasts to get them through the day.
With hundreds of thousands of the episodic digital audio files being recorded daily by everyone from celebrities to entrepreneurial gurus to soccer moms – and with so many topics and categories – finding the podcasts that fit one’s particular interests or entertainment styles can get tricky. Although podcasts are being recorded from all corners of the earth, Southern California has become one of the top-producing spots in the movement, with some of the most interesting, educational and entertaining recordings available.
In alphabetical order and no particular ranking, here are 25 SoCal-based podcasts that you may want to tune in to on your next commute or workout session.
1. 100 Words or Less: The Podcast – 100wordspodcast.com
Created and hosted by Orange County-born Ray Harkins, former vocalist for late-’90s and early-2000s local punk bands Taken and Mikoto, this podcast explores the independent music scene through casual conversations with various artists. Hardcore and punk musicians from bands such as AFI and Senses Fail members, and podcast luminaries such as Dan Carlin, Roman Mars and Alex Goldman have been featured guests.
“I have been involved in independent music, specifically punk and hardcore, for most of my life and was having incredible discussions with people in the community on my own and wanted to have a space in which to share them to the world,” Harkins says. “Anytime I am able to have a deep, honest discussion with someone about death, fear or other subjects that don’t get discussed very much openly, I feel so lucky.”
2. Childhood Remastered – childhoodremastered.com
From “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” to “DuckTales” to “Rocko’s Modern Life,” Orange County-based hosts Sean Cocca and Chris Gravitt take their listeners on a journey down memory lane discussing nostalgic films and television shows. Listeners are going to want to put on their favorite onesie pajamas, grab a bowl of cereal and listen to the two hosts recall some of the best of Saturday morning cartoons and more.
“We would always have conversations about cartoons and shows we used to watch where we’d discuss our memories and then wonder why or how a show was made the way it was. We decided it might make for a good podcast,” Cocca said. “We’re really looking forward to October when we’ll tackle some Halloween-themed favorites from our youths like Disney’s ‘Mr. Boogedy’ and ‘Hocus Pocus.’”
3. Comedy Bang Bang: The Podcast – earwolf.com/show/comedy-bang-bang
Comedian Scott Aukerman, who also created and hosts the IFC television series of the same name, hosts this fun variety show that combines both traditional interviews with celebrities and a series of games and comic festivities on a weekly basis. Past featured guests have been comedy, music and television stars, including Andy Richter, Jon Hamm, Aziz Ansari, Amy Poehler, Sarah Silverman, Ben Stiller and Zach Galifianakis.
4. Found – wondery.com/wondery/shows/found
Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and author Davy Rothbart, a Los Angeles resident, solves the mysteries of lost-and-found notes, videos, voicemail messages, flyers, photos, drawings and more. The show also explores music, relics, humor and various other heartfelt stories with guest interviews, which have included stories from comedian Colin Quinn and ScyFy’s “Ghost Hunters” producer and host Amy Bruni.
5. Four Brewers – fourbrewers.com
Beer snobs, brewery aficionados and those who just enjoy cracking open a cold one after a long day will enjoy this weekly show, hosted by brewski enthusiasts John Holzer, Jason Harris, Matt Becker and Greg Nagel. The four guys – from Orange County and the Inland Empire – discuss pretty much everything there is to talk about beer, including the brewing process, blind tastings, guessing beers just by reading bad reviews, interviews with top brewers, recipes and more.
“We’re all geeks in one fashion or another who also happen to love craft beer, the industry behind it and the people who make it. We get together every few weeks to hang out, have fun, geek out on beer, and talk about it on the internet,” Holzer said.
6. Forbes Under 30 – forbes.com/podcasts/forbes-under30-podcast
Host Steve Goldbloom of Los Angeles spotlights the world’s youngest innovators, entrepreneurs and influencers through personal interviews about who they are and what experiences and steps were taken to get them to their level of success. Be inspired by the young generation of movers and shakers, including actress Jessica Alba, singer and songwriter Lights, the “Minimalists” filmmakers Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, and young entrepreneurs such as the 15-year-old CEO of Mo’s Bows, a billion-dollar company specializing in handmade bow ties.
7. Heather Dubrow’s World – podcastone.com/heather-dubrows-world
Actress and “Real Housewives of Orange County” reality television star Heather Dubrow hosts a variety show that covers a wide range of topics in health, wellness, parenting, travel and fashion, as well as recaps her reality show adventures, including her husband and plastic surgeon Terry Dubrow’s TV show “Botched!” She also features a diverse guest list of celebrities, including comedian and model Daisy Fuentes, actress Jamie Lynn Sigler (“The Sopranos”) and fashion mogul Betsey Johnson.
8. Hollywood and Crime – wondery.com/wondery/shows/hollywoodcrime
Not for the queasy: this documentary-drama podcast explores memorable cases and uncovers new evidence of the glamour and gore of 20th century Hollywood true crimes. Presented through storytelling by host and West Hollywood tour guide Tracy Pattin and former FBI profiler Jim Clemente, the show intertwines interviews and detailed stories from investigative reporters, detectives, witnesses and historians of the mysterious, unsolved and brutal crimes from the 1940s.
9. Hollywood Handbook – earwolf.com/show/hollywood-handbook
Learn from the “best” about how to reach your showbiz dreams with comedy television writers Sean Clements (Comedy Central’s “Workaholics”) and Hayes Davenport (FOX’s “Family Guy”), who host the fictional comedy podcast, in which the two A-list egomaniac superstars give advice and answer questions from listeners looking to find success in the entertainment industry, as well as interview fellow famous stars. The semi-improvised satire has featured a variety of celebrity guests – the name-dropping hosts refer to all of the stars as their “close friends” – including actors Nick Kroll, Matt Besser and Matt Gourley.
10. Home: Stories From L.A. – homestoriesla.net
Author Bill Barol explores the simple yet complicated concept of “home” and what it means to those who were born in or have migrated to Southern California, particularly in Los Angeles. Every two weeks, Barol releases a story about various figures in L.A., from celebrities to writers to painters to designers, and how they have made and left their mark on the West Coast.
“Some of my episodes are ‘house’ stories and some, most, tell more broadly thematic stories about home as a dream, or an aspiration, or an idea,” Barol said. “I thought it was a nice wide thematic umbrella that would let me tell a lot of different kinds of stories. Which it has been.”
11. How Did This Get Made? – earwolf.com/show/how-did-this-get-made/
Hosted by actors and comedians Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas, the funny trio watches and ranks the world’s worst films and reviews them with hilarious details. The reviews are featured every two weeks with various celebrity guests; during the show’s week off, a “.5” episode is uploaded with Scheer announcing the upcoming week’s bad movie, as well as fan challenges.
12. Joe Rogan Experience – podcasts.joerogan.net
Comedian, actor and UFC commentator Joe Rogan’s podcast is one of the most popular in existence, pulling big names to Rogan’s L.A.-based microphone to chat about personal life stories and random experiences. Guests have included entertainment industry figures Jamie Foxx, Nick Swardson, Pauly Shore and Judd Apatow, as well as music stars, UFC champions, renowned authors and more.
13. LadyGang – theladygang.com
Los Angeles-based podcast “LadyGang” is hosted by CBS “Insider” host Keltie Knight, fashion blogger Jac Vanek and actress Becca Tobin.
When the mimosas are bottomless, pretty much no subject is off limits with this podcast, hosted by CBS’ “Insider” host Keltie Knight, fashion guru Jac Vanek and actress Becca Tobin. Knight said the idea of the podcast was in fact born over mimosas, while the three girlfriends were at brunch discussing how they should start a platform that gives fun insight to Hollywood – including celebrity interviews which have featured actress Heather Morris, Jane Lynch, lifestyle blogger Lauryn Evarts, and artist Nelly Furtado.
“We never know what is going to be said or what stories we’re going to come across, so it’s just a blast,” said Keltie, “My all-time favorite interview so far was RuPaul, who was like God and Oprah combined; he was so insightful and inspiring and we just had such a great time.”
14. Laila Ali Lifestyle – podcastone.com/laila-ali-lifestyle
Undefeated boxing champion Laila Ali hosts a show that focuses on holistic health and life balance, as well as fitness, healthy cooking, relationship advice, parenting stories and more. The weekly podcast also features a variety of celebrity guests, including comedian Chelsea Handler discussing her ambitious nature, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson discussing his upbringing and adventures in fatherhood and nutritionist Lola Berry providing tips on eating healthy.
“Podcasting offers me the opportunity to talk about topics that I’m passionate about. I’m able to connect with my fans in a way that’s more intimate and direct than ever before,” Ali said. “My hope is that I am able to inspire, entertain and uplift listeners by welcoming them into my world and joining me on my quest to becoming the best version of myself.”
15. Mohr Stories with Jay Mohr – jaymohr.com
Comedian, actor and sports radio host Jay Mohr started his podcast with the motivation to increase his sales in stand-up, which, he said, definitely worked but the podcast has actually made his audiences become more “devoted, smart and patient. … They are specifically there to see me, and they know everything about me.” His celebrity-filled podcast has featured a wide variety of show business and athletic icons, including Sugar Ray Leonard, Brad Williams, Perez Hilton, Anthony Bourdain, Reggie Watts and – Mohr’s personal favorite so far – funk musician Bootsy Collins.
“That’s what’s great about podcasts, you can’t hope for or plan for a particular topic. ‘Mohr Stories’ always caroms off into a ditch. A big, beautiful, enlightening ditch,” Mohr said. Future podcasts will include interviews with Mike Tyson, Russell Brand, Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, the Dalai Llama and Stephen Sondheim.
16. My Favorite Murder – myfavoritemurder.com
Hosted by comedians Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff, the hit podcast presents conversation between two true crime fans telling various stories of murderers (with names like the “Pillow Pyro” and the “Shoe Fetish Slayer”) and gruesome or silly crimes – but with plenty of humor and infectious laughter to make even the most dreadful stories sound hilarious. Since it was launched in 2016, the hosts have taken the show on the road to present live recordings of the podcast in a sold-out nationwide tour.
17. Never Not Funny: The Jimmy Pardo Podcast – pardcast.com
Launched in 2006, television personality, standup comic and Conan O’Brien’s former warm-up comedian Jimmy Pardo is considered a podcasting pioneer with his popular show, influencing many of his guests to create their own podcasts – comedians Doug Benson, Scott Aukerman and Paul Gilmartin among them. The show features Pardo’s fellow comedians participating in improvised and riotous conversations – living up to its name with funny themes such as “name that tune” segments.
18. Orange County Music League – ocml.us/tag/ocml-podcast
The Orange County Music League – a live event production company founded in 2013 as a resource for SoCal venues, promoters and artists – hosts a weekly podcast that presents interviews with artists and music industry professionals. Hosted by O.C. residents John Safari, Kevin Martin, David Martinez, Dominic Cammarota, Chad Martini and Chris Barrett, the show provides insight into the local music industry with “how to make it” tips such as how to present oneself for media, planning promotional material, approaching booking opportunities, online branding and more.
“My favorite thing is being able to provide value to our fans and bands. It helps we use a professional studio on the water in San Pedro as well,” said Safari, “Since we started we have covered a lot, including touring, record labels, why you shouldn’t pay to play and much more.”
19. SoCal Cyclist Podcast – socalcyclist.org
Launched in 2016, this podcast hosted by Brian Co showcases major figures in the world of cycling through conversational interviews about the sport. With weekly tips on the best places to ride in Southern California, insight into professional cyclists’ philosophies and work ethic, nutritional advice, proper cycling etiquette, biking advocacy and more, the podcast is actually not just for bicyclists, but for people who want to learn more about living a more active, healthy lifestyle.
“The most memorable part of the podcast is the chance to sit down with most of the guests one-on-one, sometimes even go for a ride with them before we record, and really learn from them and get to know how they have found their way into the cycling world and made it a success,” Co said. “So Cal is a mecca for both cycling and the cycling industry. The inspiration was to provide listeners with the people and practice of the peloton.”
20. SoCal Restaurant Show – podcasts.com/socal-restaurant-show
From the Angel Stadium creative executive chef to the executive chef of the Orange County-based Slapfish restaurants to wine tastings all along the coast, hosts Andy Harris and chef Andrew Gruel interview and travel to the most obscure and popular food and drink spots in Southern California. Chefs, restaurateurs, mixologists and wine aficionados are all featured discussing their favorite dishes, specialty drinks, behind-the-scenes insights, the “do’s and don’ts” of opening a restaurant, the best pairings with wine and beer, and other topics that help listeners know where the top places are to get the tastiest culinary treats.
21. The How the Why – 1888.center/thtw
Writers, literature lovers and those who want to learn more about the art of prose can appreciate this weekly, interview-based podcast with small press publishing and literary publication influencers, including authors, artists, editors and publishers. Hosted and produced by Chapman University alum Jon-Barrett Ingels, the podcast originated as a live panel discussion with the goal to support the literary arts and has since, expanded into a podcast that has more than 170 released episodes.
“I get to talk with industry innovators in the world of literature, and as a writer who is trying to find his place and his audience, I use the podcast to ask the questions I want to know the answers to,” Ingels said. “I hope our listeners are as curious and hungry as I am and that they find inspiration in the stories our guests share with us.”
22. The Steve Austin Show: Unleashed! – podcastone.com/Steve-Austin-Show
You do not have to be into skull-crushing, chair-throwing beefcakes to enjoy pro wrestling Hall of Famer and action film star Steve Austin’s podcast. The show presents Austin interviewing people from all walks of life, from WWE buddies to fitness pros (like weightlifter C.T. Fletcher) to ordinary folks with entertaining stories, and gives insight into his life in Hollywood on Broken Skull Ranch.
23. The Truth Barrel – podcastone.com/the-truth-barrel
New York Times bestselling author Neil Strauss (“The Game”) and pro volleyball player Gabby Reece (NBC’s “Strong”) have an interesting strategy to get their superstar musicians, athletes, actors and more to talk: put them in a 220-degree barrel sauna. The conversations focus more on overcoming life battles, living a healthy lifestyle and storytelling, rather than sweating out gossip with the guests, who have included Super Bowl champion Rashard Mendenhall, NBA champion John Salley and Blink 182’s Matt Skiba (who nearly passed out from the heat) – but Strauss said the fact that they are in swimsuits in the heat naturally makes their conversations, “intense, meaningful and vulnerable.”
“The real highlights are what we learn from each guest. The things I’ve learned from the guests who aren’t household names have changed almost every element of my life: from the way I breathe, Patrick McKeown, to the way I eat, Dr. Robert Lustig, to the way I stand, Kelly Starrett, to the way I’m raising my son, ‘Hand in Hand Parenting,’” Strauss said.
24. Valley of Smoke – valleyofsmoke.com
Orange County-raised and Los Angeles-based Alex MacInnis hosts audio documentaries of the rich history and human experiences of Southern California culture. There are only seven episodes currently, with one in the works, but MacInnis said it is more about “quality over quantity” for him, by making sure each one is like a film that one could re-listen to and discover something new each time.
“Almost every episode has some element I never saw coming that turns out to be a vital part of the story, and those surprises are my favorites: someone surviving a spaceship crash over the Mojave, a professional acrobat describing aging, stories of living through the Iran-Iraq War, the crazy number and variety of animal-based roadside attractions that have thrived and died here,” said MacInnis.
25. You Must Remember This – youmustrememberthispodcast.com
From Charlie Chaplin films to “Star Wars” – stories of stars during wartime, not Skywalker and Princess Leia – and the secrets and forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century films are shared in this storytelling podcast, created and hosted by film journalist Karina Longworth. Star guests have included actors Dana Carvey and Adam Goldberg, journalists Mark Olsen and Max Linsky, and writer Wil Wheaton.
“My favorite episodes tend to be the ones about relatively obscure topics or figures whom I don’t know much about going in, because those episodes allow me to watch a lot of movies that I’ve never seen before. Some examples would be the episodes on Frances Farmer, Kay Francis, and Carole Landis,” Longworth said.
By Jackie Moe/Orange County Register