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9 Binge-Worthy California Podcasts

9 Binge-Worthy California Podcasts

Delve into a mysterious crime, learn something new about the state, or simply laugh out loud with these popular California-based podcasts.


6 min read

February 11, 2020

Podcasts have taken the nation by storm ever since Serial first hit the scene in 2014, steadily becoming a necessity of everyday life—and the audio entertainment trend shows no sign of slowing down. According to a 2019 survey, more than 50 percent of Americans have listened to a podcast, and one in three listen to a podcast at least once a month. 

The growing popularity of podcasts arguably stems from their ability to transform the daily grind and mundane tasks into more bearable and enjoyable experiences. Podcasts also cover a seemingly endless array of topics for any interest. Love sports? There are countless choices. Obsessed with animals? Take your pick. Looking for something more niche, such as the best pens? Yup, there’s a podcast for that. The number of options can easily feel overwhelming, so we’ve waded through and found a few of the best California-based podcasts for both podcast newbies and junkies who want an intriguing option to add to their queue. 

Whether you’re seeking some much-needed escapism from your dreaded BART ride into San Francisco or your long Los Angeles evening commute, these nine California podcasts have you covered: Delve into the gritty details of a mysterious crime, learn something new about the Golden State, stay informed on the latest happenings, or simply laugh out loud. 

Get ready to browse, download, and immerse yourself in the wonderful world of podcasts. 

Get an inside look at the movie industry by listening to The Reel podcast. Photo courtesy of Stitcher.

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The Reel

Category: Entertainment

Host: Mark Olsen, a Los Angeles Times reporter and prominent film critic

Average episode time: 30 minutes

Why you should listen: Movie buffs are bound to enjoy this fascinating podcast featuring the latest industry news, as told by the people who know it best: actors, writers, directors, reporters, and critics. The smart, engaging conversations on The Reel provide behind-the-scenes glimpses into everything from hidden gems, to blockbuster films, to the biggest moments in show business. Tune in to hear from luminaries like Spike Lee, Quentin Tarantino, and Noah Baumbach as they discuss their latest films. Or listen to Taron Egerton, who plays Elton John in Rocketman, as he describes what it was like to portray such a legendary musician. And don’t miss Melina Matsoukas—the director of Beyoncé’s iconic “Formation” and “Lemonade” music videos, among others—who gives the inside scoop on how her most famous works were made. 

Learn about the Golden State's chefs, farmers, and producers with the California Foodways podcast. Photo courtesy of California Foodways.

California Foodways

Category: Food

Host: Lisa Morehouse, an award-winning journalist focusing on food, agriculture, and the people who make both possible

Average episode time:
10 minutes

Why you should listen: California Foodways delves deep into the richest, most diverse—and most complex—state in the nation. Follow Morehouse as she travels across California, telling the captivating stories of culinary pioneers, chefs, and farmers while exploring the connection between people and food. Listeners can learn how a Vietnamese pop star turned into an Orange County sandwich maven, why Central Valley prisoners are supplying milk to nearly all the prisons in the state system, and what it took for a Madera farmworker to become a mole-making restaurant owner.

Bay Curious host Olivia Allen-Price gives an intimate look at the San Francisco Bay Area in her podcast. Photo of courtesy of Vinnee Tong and KQED.

Bay Curious

Category: Travel

Host: Olivia Allen-Price, a KQED journalist and producer 

Average episode time: 10 minutes

Why you should listen: Whether you’re a San Francisco Bay Area native or a brand-new resident, this hit podcast answers all of your burning questions about the region and its many quirks. Ever wondered why the BART escalators always seem to be broken, how Treasure Island was built, where the most mysterious landmarks are located, or what it took to construct the tunnels under San Francisco? Listen to Bay Curious, and you’ll be surprised—and fascinated—by what you learn.

If you can't get enough of the latest tech news, This Week in Tech will be your new obsession. Photo courtesy of Podtail.

This Week in Tech

Category: Technology

Host: Leo Laporte, a technology expert whose Twit.Tv podcast provides tech news, commentary, how-tos, and information about the latest trends 

Average episode time: 2 hours

Why you should listen: This Week in Tech is the No.1-ranked technology podcast—and for good reason. The flagship podcast of Twit.Tv features fresh perspectives on emerging industry trends from a group of top tech pundits, who participate in roundtable discussions about everything from new tech laws and face-recognition technology to the great folding-phone debate and the latest Apple product release. It’s the perfect podcast for tech junkies.  

Learning about crime has never been more entertaining. Tune in to My Favorite Murder for a new take on crime. Photo courtesy of My Favorite Murder.

My Favorite Murder

Category: True crime

Hosts: Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff, stand-up comedians and lifelong fans of true crime stories 

Average episode time: 75–90 minutes

Why you should listen: Since its inception, the true-crime podcast has broken download records and garnered a cult-like following, thanks to the witty and hilarious hosts who tell each other their favorite tales of murder and hear hometown crime stories from friends and fans. So, if you’re a true-crime enthusiast with a good sense of humor, My Favorite Murder may soon be your next obsession. 

Neil Strauss' podcast To Live and Die in L.A. investigates the mysterious disappearance of Adea Shabani. Photo courtesy of ABC.

To Live and Die in L.A.

Category: True crime

Host: Neil Strauss, an award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author who found himself in the middle of a murder investigation

Average episode time: 30 minutes

Why you should listen: Serial fans will find more to love in To Live and Die in L.A. This gripping, thrilling series dives into the mysterious disappearance of aspiring actress and model Adea Shabani, who vanished without a trace from her Hollywood apartment in 2018. Strauss follows the case as it unfolds, detailing all the twists and turns through first-hand accounts, clips, and evidence—and eventually solving the murder.

Whether you're a lifelong resident or a new visitor, The California Report offers something for everyone. Photo courtesy of KQED.

The California Report

Category: News and current events

Hosts: Saul Gonzalez and Lily Jamali, acclaimed KQED journalists who cover issues that matter to Californians

Average episode time: 10 minutes

Why you should listen: The California Report provides your daily dose of Golden State news, trends, and culture. Whether you want to know about the latest political scandal, the buzzworthy Hollywood films worth seeing, or the implications of the newest state laws, this intriguing podcast ensures you stay up-to-date on all things California related.

Take a break from crime podcasts to laugh with celebrities on Comedy Bang Bang. Photo courtesy of Michael Lewis for Variety.

Comedy Bang Bang

Category: Comedy

Host: Scott Aukerman, a Hollywood writer and comedian 

Average episode time: 90–120 hours

Why you should listen: Providing a weekly dose of funny, this podcast will leave you laughing so hard your stomach hurts. Comedy Bang Bang boasts a unique format that blends celebrity interviews with an open-door policy for drop-in guests—meaning an assortment of oddballs can stop by at any moment to wreak havoc, tell a story, give unsolicited advice, or announce surprising news. Hear from beloved comedians like Zach Galifianakis, Amy Poehler, and Sarah Silverman as you wait for whatever unexpected guest visits next. 

Get to know your favorite celebrities as real people with Armchair Expert. Photo courtesy of Only Everything.

Armchair Expert

Category: Comedy

Host: Dax Shepard and Monica Padman, award-winning actors and comedians 

Average episode time: 2 hours

Why you should listen: This star-studded podcast is popular for a reason. Shepard and Padman have vulnerable, honest conversations with renowned writers, musicians, academics, and celebrities—including Amy Schumer, Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, and Jim Gaffigan—that reveal the messiness of being human. The real talk that happens on Armchair Expert goes to show that everyone (regardless of status) has stories of struggle, shortcomings, and success.

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