7 Hawai‘i-Based Podcasts Worth Listening to Right Now
Podcasts make it easy to create your own playlist of content on the go. Here are seven local ones gaining listeners.
Design Talk Hawai‘i
Host: Matt Gilbertson
Episodes: 197 as of December
Live Stream: 6 p.m., Fridays, The ANSWER, 690 AM/94.3 FM, theanswerhawaii.com
Podcast On: Sound Cloud (through April 2018) and omny.fm
Architect Matt Gilbertson likes listening to other creative people. But in his industry, he could not think of a networking event where he could meet them and talk freely about their work.
So one day, Gilbertson decided to rent a professional recording studio from Salem Media Hawai‘i. The rent also included a weekly one-hour radio slot, which he named Design Talk Hawai‘i, with episodes recorded for online listening.
“[The rent’s] reasonable when you consider what I would pay to meet certain people at an event or to take people out to lunch,” Gilbertson says.
The discussions are spontaneous and free flowing. Gilbertson often doesn’t meet his guests until they arrive for the show. Five minutes before starting, he gives them a brief outline: “Talk about your past, talk about your present and talk about your future.”
With more than 200 episodes to date, Gilbertson has interviewed many of Honolulu’s creative-class movers and shakers. Guests have included former HONOLULU Magazine editor A. Kam Napier, visual artist Solomon Enos and actress Lisa Barnes.
“Most creatives let our work do the talking,” Gilbertson says. “Bringing people like a painter or a sculptor into a studio and asking them to talk about their work is a whole different thing.”
The radio show broadcasts to Honolulu metro listeners once a week on 690 AM/94.3 FM, but it has a growing following on SoundCloud, which allows listeners anywhere to play archives of the show online or via mobile devices. Show Producer Miles Phillips also shares links to episodes to a public Facebook group, Art in Hawai‘i, with more than 2,500 followers.
Whether it’s online or on-air, Gilbertson says, “the conversation takes us where it’s supposed to be.”
The Blue Hawai‘i Podcast
Hosts: Josh Michaels and Ryan Little
Episodes: 42 as of December
Live Stream: 9 a.m. Saturdays, Blue Hawai‘i Media on YouTube
Podcast On: SoundCloud, iTunes, Stitcher, Player FM
Josh Michaels (left) and Ryan Little
Josh Michaels was born and raised in ‘Aiea. Ryan Little came to Honolulu to attend UH. The two met at the Richardson School of Law. Then, after graduating, Little moved back to the Mainland. But Hawai‘i still felt like home.
Little visited whenever he could, crashing in his old Kapahulu apartment, now rented to Michaels and his wife. The friends’ conversations would quickly drift to local politics.
“I wish we still lived in the same place, so we could start a podcast,” Little remembers saying back then.
Then he landed a job in Honolulu. Little and his wife moved into a Kaimukī home that included a cement carport with a door and sliding windows, something that would work well as a recording studio—or a bunker.
In a way, after Hawai‘i’s false missile alert last January, it became both: That’s when Little and Michaels began The Blue Hawai‘i Podcast.
“We called it The Blue Hawai‘i Podcast as an homage to the famous moniker, and it worked for us on multiple levels,” Michaels says. “Our politics are blue, our language is occasionally blue and the news makes us feel blue.”
What started as two guys ranting evolved into a structured show with thoughtful segments on current events, guest interviews, field trips, local business shoutouts and, of course, politics.
It seems to be working. Co-workers now bring up podcast topics at the water cooler. Former Hawai‘i residents chime in from the Mainland. Listeners abroad ask how national issues play out here. Naysayers fire back on social media.
And the guest list is growing. Some interviewees have included former U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, Gov. David Ige, state Rep. Beth Fukumoto, Nā Hōkū winner Izik and CNN/Fox News commentator Bassima Alghussein—with more politicians and community organizers on the invite list.
It’s Lit with PhDJ
Hosts: Anjoli Roy, aka PhDJ, and Jocelyn Kapumealani Ng
Episodes: 86 as of December
Podcast On: Mixcloud
Jocelyn Kapumealani Ng (left) and Anjoli Roy
Anjoli Roy was an editor for the University of Hawai‘i student literary journal, Hawai‘i Review, when a DJ friend asked the graduate student to read selections from an issue on the college radio station, KTUH.
“My friend asked if I had any special music we wanted to play with the poems,” Roy says. “It got me thinking about how literature and music go together.”
The next semester, she signed up for a student DJ spot and started It’s Lit with PhDJ to introduce listeners to “writers to love and the music their work plays best around.” Each episode begins with a warm-up playlist, followed by an hour of short readings by a guest writer interwoven with songs he or she selects, and ends with guests answering the question, “Why lit?”
Because early shows aired when most of her college peers were asleep or studying, Roy started recording episodes on MixCloud. What began as a platform for writers in the UH English department has now grown into an online archive featuring writers across and outside of Hawai‘i.
Guests have included Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner, Nicky Loomis, Craig Santos Perez, Rajiv Mohabir and Allison Hedge Coke. Visiting storytellers such as comedian Hari Kondabolu and National Book Foundation executive director Lisa Lucas have also made appearances. Most guests record live on O‘ahu, but some off-island writers provide prerecorded readings and playlists. Since graduating from UH, Roy and Ng still fill occasional guest DJ segments on KTUH.
Hosts: G Money, Professor Barry, Phormat, Gannon Gilmore, Alika Seki, Aron Medeiros, Todd Bernardy and Lyndsay Quiocho
Episodes: 250 as of December
Live Stream: 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays, facebook.com/TheNerdWatch
Podcast On: iTunes
With more than 200 episodes under its belt, NerdWatch is a seriously produced podcast for listeners serious about nerdy pop culture—run by eight not-so-serious hosts: Greg “G Money” Turner, “Professor of Cinema” Barry Wurst, video game guru Jason “Phormat” David, horror aficionado Gannon Gilmore, Maui Comics owner Alika Seki, cinema scholar Aron Medeiros, comic book artist Todd Bernardy and “Night Darling Cosplay” anime expert Lyndsay Quiocho. Recorded live every week at Maui Comics & Collectibles in Kahului, the team discusses upcoming movies and TV shows, comic book and video game releases, entertainment industry news and trends, and more.
“The podcast was originally just about movies with Barry and me,” says Turner. “[Then], we grabbed a group of people specializing in different nerdy fields and created a place where all people who love what we love can enjoy weekly entertaining discussions.” If you’re interested in understanding the sociopolitical overtones of Marvel superhero films, or the latest scoop on comic book industry scandals, or interviews with local artists, gamers and costumers, then this podcast is for you.
Hawai‘i Shoots: How Do You Shoot That?
Host: Brad Watanabe and Jenn Lieu
Episodes: 12 as of December
Podcast On: iTunes
Jenn Lieu (left) and Brad Watanabe
Hawai‘i Shoots began as a blog and a series of workshops exploring the intricacies of local video production, whether someone was shooting a commercial TV show, indie film, documentary or wedding. Local director and cinematographer Brad Watanabe launched the platform in 2010, with rotating guests that included seasoned cameramen, photojournalists and media agency directors.
Beginning late last year, Watanabe teamed up with marketing specialist Jenn Lieu to launch the Hawai‘i Shoots podcast, speaking with local filmmakers and digital media storytellers about their creative processes and technical approaches. “The podcast has become a way for people who don’t necessarily work in the industry or who wouldn’t normally come to one of our events to learn about film production and to kind of be an introduction,” Watanabe says.
By dedicating whole episodes to tackling subjects such as how to get started with YouTube, breaking into the advertising industry, practical lighting tips and finding storytelling narratives, this podcast series provides some solid education for the video enthusiast.
The Solid Podcast by Doc Rock
Host: Doc Rock
Episodes: 12 as of December
Podcast On: iTunes
Doc Rock, who owns a laser engraving business, decided last year to convert a design room in his office into a casual recording studio, complete with a green screen, lights and audio equipment. Rock, who had previously created podcasts for AOL and is one of the hosts of the U.K.’s British Tech Network podcast, wanted to create something locally.
“Because Hawai‘i is so tight-knit and because everyone’s so close, it’s easy to trust a friend about business or financial or just life advice, even if they’re completely wrong,” Rock says. “I thought I could help break the truth down for people, with expert guests that can clear misconceptions.”
The result is The Solid Podcast, launched in May 2017 and dedicated to “life, leisure and laughter,” where Rock focuses on topics related to life hacks, personal growth and improvement. Past episode topics range from how success can be found through small changes; people’s perceptions, taking into account cognitive bias; and emergency preparedness during tropical storm and hurricane season. Says Rock: It’s “kind of like self-help or self-healing without having to read a multivolume book series or pay 10 grand for some seminar.”
Lost Podcast: The Transmission
Hosts: Ryan Ozawa and Jennifer Eno Ozawa
Podcast On: iTunes
Self-proclaimed geeks and pop culture enthusiasts Ryan Ozawa (who scored the ultimate handle @Hawaii on most social media platforms) and Jennifer Eno Ozawa (@MrsHawaii, of course) were already fans of the ABC television show Lost and were running a Hawai‘i-centric podcast called Hawai‘iUP when they decided to launch The Transmission in 2005.
Dedicated to discussing the latest episode of Lost plus fan theories, the podcast also shared news from the set when production was taking place in Honolulu. During its heyday, The Transmission made it to the Apple iTunes music store’s Top 10 and featured interviews with Lost actors Daniel Dae Kim and Jorge Garcia.
“When we began, there weren’t many podcasts based on TV shows; it was all relatively new,” Ryan Ozawa says. “When Apple first popularized being able to download podcasts, it was around the same time you could download episodes of TV shows on iTunes. So people would be downloading Lost and then they’d download our Lost podcast.”
The podcast ended in 2011 but as new audiences continue to discover Lost on Netflix and DVD (or as old fans revisit the show), The Transmission continues to help audiences, well, get Lost.
And another for the road …
Our sister publication, Hawai‘i Magazine launched their own podcast called “Have Aloha Will Travel” on March 4, 2019. Listen in on travel tips, interviews and the inside scoop on work trips the staff take around Hawai‘i. Hosted by editor, Catherine Toth Fox and associate editor, Kevin Allen, the biweekly “Have Aloha Will Travel” is available on SoundCloud.