Essential California: Time for ‘The Times,’ the L.A. Times’ new news podcast

a logo with the words "The Times" and stylized clock hands
The Los Angeles Times is launching a daily news podcast on May 3.

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, April 26. I’m Gustavo Arellano, filling in for Julia Wick, who’ll return later this week.

I’m writing from Orange County, from a cramped room in my house filled with so many books (including two copies of Carey McWilliams’ classic “Southern California Country: An Island on the Land”) that its sound-muffling qualities create a perfect place to record a podcast.

And wouldn’t you know it, I am.

On May 3, the debut episode of “The Times: Daily news from the L.A. Times” will stream on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify and everywhere else you can find podcasts. I’ll be the host of this half-hour take on the world through the eyes of the West Coast. We’ll post new episodes Monday through Friday. And, just like this newsletter, it’s free.

“The Times” operates under the bold philosophy that you cannot understand what’s going on without checking in on California first. As the Golden State goes, so does everyone else. So we’ll bring you stories that you need to know through the voices of my talented colleagues and guests, famous and not. Expect rants, exposés, ruminations, hilarity and just a bunch of desmadre (Spanish for “a big ol’ mess” or “a rollicking good time,” depending on your outlook on life).


I can already hear you, gentle readers: Another daily news podcast? Isn’t there already a big one out there whose name rhymes with “Da Bailey”?

Yep to both. But “The Times” does not seek to be an audio Death Star; we’re happy to start as a BB-8, and hopefully grow into an R2-D2 (and we’re definitely not going to be the Poochie of podcasts). We’ll be nimble, hustling, biting and badass — because our team is California.

Senior producer Denise Guerra is from the Inland Empire. Producer Shannon Lin calls the Bay Area home. Engineer Mario Diaz lives in his native southeast L.A. Yours truly will never quit Orange County because it’s just too much fun.

Our personal and professional lives span the globe and this country, and have taught us how to cover what matters, whether it’s a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, the evolution of Kamala Harris, the ongoing drama over housing residents on skid row, or the question of whether In-n-Out is actually overrated (I maintain it is; my producers troll me by posting photos of Animal fries and Double-Doubles).

So give “The Times” a subscribe, wontcha? I’ll appear on the L.A. Times’ Instagram channel this Wednesday night at 10:15 to take your questions and comments on our new podcast. Gracias for reading — now, por favor listen!

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

Note: Some of the sites we link to may limit the number of stories you can access without subscribing.



Oh, yeah, the Oscars happened last night. My Calendar colleagues have it all, from a trivia challenge to how they were pulled off to Chloé Zhao’s magic, abysmal ratings, red carpet looks, and (historic) winners upon (expected) winners upon (upset) winners. Los Angeles Times

A judge’s order drags L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti into the center of a legal battle over skid row. Leave it to an Orange County guy — U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter — to put the harsh on the L.A. mayor’s billion-dollar plan to tackle homelessness. Los Angeles Times

Here’s our full coverage of the 2021 L.A. Times Festival of Books. Our annual party for the printed word wrapped up yesterday — may we all do it in person next year. Los Angeles Times

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This Mexican restaurant plans to serve hot meals to children detained in the Long Beach Convention Center. “These children need some love,” says the owner of Lola’s Mexican Cuisine. L.A. Taco


Armenian American activists welcome U.S. recognition of genocide but say the fight isn’t over. More than 1,000 people protested in front of the Turkish Consulate in Beverly Hills after President Biden’s historic declaration. Los Angeles Times

In Sacramento, legislative attempts to slow down drivers have hit speed bumps. My fellow columnista Steve Lopez writes about how automated speed enforcement is a possibility in California. Los Angeles Times


Black activists in Fresno and Bakersfield discuss the future of police reform. A roundtable discussion in two cities that need it. Valley Public Radio

She couldn’t eradicate anti-Asian hate crimes. So she made a handbook on how to fight them. Esther Lim’s booklet, published in several languages, describes how to document an attack and lists phone numbers for reporting it. Los Angeles Times


The most amazing park expansion you’ve never heard about. Adam Schiff, Donald Trump and the existential urgency of the Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act, which would connect the Santa Monica Mountains Recreational Area to Mount Baldy — no, really! Red Canary Collective

Los Angeles County continues to report progress in the coronavirus fight. Keep wearing those masks and getting vaxxed, folks! Los Angeles Times


A San Diego State University lecturer’s portrayal of a racial stereotype adds to the debate over academic free speech. A professor is shocked — shocked! — that his attempt to teach about the evils of racism by saying racist things he didn’t mean wasn’t received well. San Diego Union-Tribune

Who will be Oakland’s poet laureate? The city is accepting nominations. The two-year residency begins in June. Oaklandside

The unlikely story of a 1950s American League batting champ turned large-scale pot farmer. From the San Francisco Seals to the Philadelphia A’s to the Gold Rush town of Georgetown for Ferris Fain. Sports Stories

A poem to to start your week: “The Bad Old Days,” by Kenneth Rexroth. Poetry Foundation

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Los Angeles: mostly sunny, 64. San Diego: scattered showers, 64. San Francisco: cloudy, 57. San Jose: cloudy, 60. Fresno: sunny, 67. Sacramento: partly cloudy, 66.


This week’s birthdays for those who made a mark in California:

Chef Alice Waters (April 28, 1944), former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan (May 1, 1930), soccer player David Beckham (May 2, 1975) and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (May 2, 1972).

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.