California City

Deep in the Mojave Desert, there is a little town with a big name and a bizarre history: California City. For decades, real estate developers have sold a dream here: if you buy land now, you’ll be rich one day. Thousands of people bought this dream. Many were young couples and hard-working immigrants looking to build a better future. But much of the land they bought is nearly worthless. In this new podcast from LAist Studios, host Emily Guerin tells a story of money, power and deception.

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Deep in the Mojave Desert, there is a little town with a big name and a bizarre history: California City. For decades, real estate developers have sold a dream here: if you buy land now, you’ll be rich one day. Thousands of people bought this dream. Many were young couples and hard-working immigrants looking to build a better future. But much of the land they bought is nearly worthless.  In this new podcast from LAist Studios, host Emily Guerin tells a story of money, power and deception.
Meet The Team
Emily Guerin - Senior Reporter & HostEmily Guerin is the host of California City and a senior reporter at KPCC. Before moving to Los Angeles, she reported on the oilfield in North Dakota for Prairie Public Radio and Inside Energy. Before that, she wrote for a small newspaper in Maine, and lived on the Western Slope of Colorado while reporting for High Country News. She's received a national Edward R. Murrow award for her work on wildfires, and was a finalist for the Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize for her work on mysterious oilfield deaths.
Arwen Nicks - Senior ProducerArwen Nicks is an independent podcast producer and editor. Her previous work includes The Big One, Tell Them, I Am, The Sub Pop Podcast and How's Your Day? After working on California City she is nearly positive she will be buying Ralph Nader's cookbook.
James Kim - ProducerJames Kim is a podcast producer based in Los Angeles. He previously worked on KPCC's Repeat and Tell Them, I Am. The first public radio job he ever had was in 2011 working as an intern for KPCC's weekend show Off-Ramp hosted by John Rabe.
Mike Kessler - EditorMike Kessler is Senior Editor of Investigations and Projects at KPCC and LAist.com. He is the host, co-reporter, and co-writer of the investigative podcast The Running Man, coming soon from ESPN; his work for ESPN.com will be featured in the book Best American Sports Writing 2020; and a 30-minute documentary he reported with ESPN is a finalist for a 2020 Sports Emmy. Kessler’s work has twice been a finalist for the National Magazine Award, and included in several anthologies. An L.A. native and former writer-at-large for Los Angeles magazine, he has been working in journalism since 1996.
Valentino Rivera - EngineerValentino is a mixing/mastering engineer that has a strong passion for sound and storytelling. His credits include “The Big One: Your Survival Guide” and “Tell Them I Am.”
Gabriel Dunatov - Producer and Fact CheckerGabriel Dunatov is a public radio producer, researcher and fact-checker based in Pasadena. Before working on California City he contributed to KPCC’s Take Two. He used to work for NPR’s Morning Edition in Washington, D.C. and the NPR West bureau as a news assistant. His first experience in public radio was as an intern for Morning Edition.
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