“LAist Studios exists to tell LA stories to the world.”
That’s what you find in the “about” section of LAist Studios content, including Walter Thompson-Hernandez’s show California Love. The recent flight of shows from LAist Studios includes programs like Hollywood, The Sequel which explores how the entertainment industry can (and should) evolve, and Tell Them, I Am where host Misha Euceph speaks with guests who are Muslim to intimately discuss their experiences.
Amidst a host of strong programming, Thompson-Hernandez’s voice tells a quiet, powerful story. Most recently, he explores an imaging some of us only recently saw for the very first time: Black horseback riders from Compton. In reality, the Compton Cowboys have existed as a vital part of their community long before the rest of America saw photos of them on social media. And Walter is the perfect person to show us; he literally wrote the book, ‘The Compton Cowboys: The New Generation of Cowboys in America’s Urban Heartland’.
But the episode isn’t just about the recent wave of internet awareness around the Cowboys. It’s about their relationship with their community, and how the organisation is trying to survive in a world has to be dragged, kicking and screaming, to support the organisations of Black men and women. It’s about what the Compton Cowboys provide to the members of their community who are often presented as one thing, one lifestyle, one stereotype.
Beyond the intrigue of the Compton Cowboys as a topic is Walter’s voice, his own experience being raised in LA and his perspective on the California stories the world needs to hear. Episodes of California Love are gentle, they’re enticing, they’re emotional and beautiful. The team that creates this programme do it tenderly, and their affection for their topics and their purpose is evident in each moment. What more can we ask for from podcast creators, except to leave everything in our headphones, not hold anything back – confront us, envelope us, and carry us forward.
And those are stories that need to be told to the world.