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20 California-Themed Podcasts You Should Know

Make your own Golden State playlist with pods that span travel, entertainment, culture, news, and more

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Posted a month agoby Jessica Marshall

Want to know some weird and wacky facts about San Francisco? Curious about unsolved mysteries in Los Angeles? Want wine recommendations from a Santa Barbara vintner, or insights on a walking tour from a Monterey Bay Aquarium expert?

There's a California-based podcast for that.

When it comes to podcasts, California produces spoken-word audio gems that run the gamut from provocative, funny, informative, and emotional to just plain entertaining. Whether produced in California or from the minds of Californians, these shows offer a glimpse of the culture, history, and landmarks that define the Golden State.

So pop in those earbuds, turn up the volume, and catch a wave—a California sound wave, that is.

Culture, News & History

Bay Curious

Have you ever noticed that the Golden Gate Bridge seems to howl? Or wondered how Rice-a-Roni became the San Francisco Treat? This delightful podcast from KQED attempts to answer any question—and we mean, any question—a listener has about the Bay Area. Host Olivia Allen-Price explores myths, legends, quirks, and realities about life in this bustling region.

The Californian Century with Stanley Tucci

The multitalented character actor paints sound-rich tales of California history in this BBC podcast—it’s as if each episode emerged from the pen of a Hollywood screenwriter. From the troubled work of Silicon Valley founder William Shockley to the revolutionary vocal stylings of Ice-T and the historic triumph of Oscar-winner Hattie McDaniel, Tucci delivers compelling narratives of influential people who made California what it is today.

The Commonwealth Club of California

If you're an NPR fan, you've likely caught at least a snippet of a Commonwealth Club broadcast at some point. It's one of the oldest public affairs programs in the country, and it has a regular slot on most public radio station rundowns nationwide. Since 1924 this San Francisco-based weekly forum has covered a wide range of trending national topics, bringing in experts and perspectives to explore issues from all sides. Listen to an episode or binge a season and you'll no doubt be equipped to have a lively chat about public affairs over some fine California wine.

The California Report

KQED produces this daily news podcast that provides everything you need to know about what's going on in California. Lily Jamali in San Francisco and Saul Gonzalez in Los Angeles work alongside reporters from around the state to cover the issues that impact California's large and diverse population. Even if you're here for a visit, that includes you.

L.A. Meekly

Two Los Angeles history buffs geek out while telling tales from the City of Angels in this independent monthly podcast. From famous places and faces to legendary nightclubs, natural disasters, corrupt politicians, and unsolved mysteries, there's more than enough L.A. lore here to keep you entertained on your commute, on a hike, or wherever.

Destinations

California Now Podcast

If you're planning a trip to California, this is a must-add to your playlist. Hosted by former WNYC Morning Edition host Soterios Johnson, each episode is an exploration of destinations, attractions, and hidden gems across the Golden State. Whether you’re curious about safety protocols during the pandemic, getting the food scoop from TV host Phil Rosenthal, or crafting the perfect road trip itinerary, this Visit California–produced show is an ideal travel companion.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Visit Sacramento PODCAST: Henry De’Vere White on why it’s critical to support restaurants now. @deVeresPub Link in Bio Swipe up in “Podcast” Highlight Reel As Sacramentans enjoy the Tower Bridge Dinner To Go, it's important to remember that local restaurants need our support now more than ever, and on this week's episode of the Visit Sacramento Podcast, Henry de Vere White of de Vere's Irish Pub, The Snug, Snug Jr., and Public House shares how his restaurants have been able to adapt – yet still face nearly insurmountable challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Listen to this week's episode to learn what you can do to help the places you love in Sacramento survive the pandemic, as well as how de Vere White's restaurants are making the experience of eating outdoors a lot more fun than you might expect. #VisitSacramento #Sacramento365 #VisitCalifornia

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Visit Sacramento Podcast

Blend fascinating history with mouthwatering farm-to-fork food, and you're starting to get a sense of life in California's “farm-to-fork capital.” But that's just the start. If you're planning a journey through the Gold Country region and Sacramento, put this podcast on your playlist. You'll get great recommendations for restaurants, attractions, and things to see while you're there.

Discover Siskiyou Podcast

If you daydream of exploring the wilds of northern California, lace up your hiking boots, throw in some earbuds, and press play on this pod. Fishing, hiking, whitewater rafting, birding—the region has epic spots for just about any outdoor activity. Each episode explores a topic in detail with insights provided by local nature experts, adventurers, and guides.

Culinary

California Foodways

The odds are high that the fresh produce you picked up at your local grocery store was grown in California. The state's fertile valleys provide a third of the nation's veggies and two-thirds of its fruit. Podcast host Lisa Morehouse traverses the Golden State to bring us stories of food, farming, and the people behind the booming (and incredibly important) agricultural industry. You may want to prepare a bite to eat before listening, because this show will definitely make you hungry.

Two Glasses In

This one's for the oenophiles. Third-generation winegrower Bion Rice travels around Santa Barbara's wine country in this nine-episode podcast, sharing indelible moments with notable winemakers in the region. Their conversations cover life, wine, and everything in between. And, as advertised, each episode plays out over two glasses of the local vintage.

Four Brewers

The name pretty much says it all—four brewers and beer enthusiasts based in California get together every week to taste and talk about their all-time favorite beverage. They claim to have “made and drank all the beers,” and the language, like many West Coast IPAs, is often quite strong. That said, this show is funny, irreverent, and approachable, whether you're a dedicated beer aficionado or a casual quaffer.

Attractions

Getty Podcasts

As if the world-famous L.A. cultural center didn't already have enough artistic wonders to offer the universe, it also produces two riveting podcasts that explore art and cultural topics. Art + Ideas is hosted by J. Paul Getty Trust President Jim Cuno and features conversations with innovators in the art and architectural space. Recording Artists delves into the lives of artists that transform society with their work. Both are worth a listen.

America's National Parks Podcast

The official podcast of the country's National Park System is not dedicated exclusively to California, but it deftly explores the nature and history of many of the state's natural wonders. That includes an exploration of how coastal redwoods grow to such majestic heights, what happened to the lost gold mines of Joshua Tree National Park, and the origin of Alcatraz Island.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Let the soundwaves of the iconic aquarium wash over you with this series of audio postcards that dive deep into its mission of marine conservation. That includes a five-part series on the effects of plastics on aquatic life, Q&As with curious kids, and even audio walking tours of nearby places like Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail.

WD-FM

For the Disneyphiles out there, this might be the happiest podcast on earth. This is the official show of the Walt Disney Family Museum, located in San Francisco's historic Presidio, and it celebrates the man behind the magic with stories and conversations about his life and work. You'll learn about Walt Disney's childhood, find out who Oswald the Lucky Rabbit is (spoiler: it's a certain mouse's predecessor), and hear all about Mickey from the man who voices him.

Sports, Art, & Entertainment

The Reel

If you're a movie or TV buff, you'll want to bookmark this pod. The Los Angeles Times produces this weekly podcast (currently on hiatus) that features the latest Hollywood buzz as well as in-depth conversations with actors, directors, producers, and other industry A-listers.

Veloworthy

Dedicated to cycling enthusiasts, this bike-focused podcast features the personalities, races, and culture of the California cycling world. From going behind the scenes at the state’s biggest events (Amgen Tour of California, Sea Otter Classic) to interviewing California-based pro athletes, host Brian Co highlights the stories from this passionate athletic community.

Desert Lady Diaries

This weekly podcast profiles the lives of the diverse women who live in California's desert communities through 30-minute conversations with host (and Joshua Tree resident) Dawn Davis. Meet artists, activists, therapists, photographers, cafe owners, and many others from all over the country and the world who have laid down roots in the Mojave Desert.

Raw Material

In the mood for something completely different? Contemporary art is in the ear of the beholder in this anthology podcast from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Each season of the podcast follows a different host as he or she explores a theme in the modern art world. Follow one host on a quest to prove she can connect with anyone around the world via six degrees of separation. Or listen in as two pals embark on an art-focused road trip across the state that unearths a variety of hidden gems.

Wonderland Radio Hour Live from the Rio Theater

The communities nestled in the lower Russian River Valley are the stars of this hour-long show produced by Northern California Public Radio. It's taped before a live audience a few times a year at the Russian River Hall's Curtain Call Theatre in Monte Rio, and features conversations with and performances from talented folks from all over Sonoma County, from Duncan Mills to Cazadero and beyond.

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