Essential California

As California goes, so goes the nation. The Golden State has never been more important or influential, and with Essential California, you will get smart, interesting roundups of the stories shaping California — from our pages and beyond. What’s "Essential" is subjective, but our aim is to bring you the most compelling stories animating the state, whether they're about homelessness, Hollywood or hot pot and a whole lot more.

Your hosts

Shelby Grad

I'm Shelby Grad, and I oversee California and Metro coverage for the Los Angeles Times. Since joining the Times in 1990, I've worked as a reporter and editor covering county government, urban affairs, wildfires, earthquakes, rains, droughts, public corruption and celebrity misbehavior, among other things. My staff won Pulitzer Prizes for coverage of the San Bernardino terrorist attack in 2015, the Bell corruption scandal in 2010 and the San Diego wildfires in 2003. I'm also an L.A. history buff.

Benjamin Oreskes

My name is Benjamin Oreskes, and I'm the co-author of the Essential California newsletter and a general assignment reporter in the California section. Like so many newcomers to L.A., I’m a native New Yorker who will never give up my allegiance to the Yankees — no matter how well the Dodgers play. Before coming to The Times in February 2017, I covered foreign policy at Politico in Washington, D.C., and graduated from Northwestern University. Hopefully I'll get to see the Wildcats play in the Rose Bowl sometime soon.