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Off-Ramp
Off-Ramp with John Rabe Hero Image
(Dan Carino)
Off-Ramp
Exploring Southern California with John Rabe

About the Show

Over 11 years and 570 episodes, John Rabe and Team Off-Ramp scoured SoCal for the people, places, and ideas whose stories needed to be told, and the show became a love-letter to Los Angeles. Now, John is sharing selections from the Off-Ramp vault to help you explore this imperfect paradise.

Funding provided by:

Corporation for Public Broadcasting

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Episodes
  • Cover Art - Off-Ramp with John Rabe
    11:09
    11:09
    Rabe talks with Petros Papadakis, radio's loudest and second smartest host. (Matt "Money" Smith is first.)
    From 2014, Off-Ramp host John Rabe talks with Petros Papadakis, former singing waiter, captain of the USC football team, English major, color commentator, and co-host of "The Petros & Money Show" on AM 570 KLAC. At the time, Rabe wrote, "After spending four hours in the KLAC studio in Burbank a couple weeks ago with Petros Papadakis and Matt "Money" Smith, I'm surprised I didn't wake up talking to myself at the Smokehouse, with three or four martinis drained on the table in front of me. It was that weird. Loud, fast, stream-of-consciousness, sound effects, people talking in the studio when the mike is on. If KPCC is a Prius, the Petros and Money Show is a Camaro clown car." Support for this podcast comes from Gordon and Dona Crawford, who believe that quality journalism makes Los Angeles a better place to live; and bythe Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. Off-Ramp theme music by Fesliyan Studios.
  • Cover Art - Off-Ramp with John Rabe
    16:06
    16:06
    Jim Tully, hard-boiled detective pioneer, Chaplin's wingman, the first real Hollywood journalist, and maybe the most famous Angeleno you never heard of
    Sheesh. They even got the details wrong on his gravestone! But that's the way it was 80 years ago. People passed in and out of the public consciousness like trains in the distance. And that's the way it was for Jim Tully, who was a household name here in LA in the 1920s and 1930s, then forgotten by the 1940s. The story of this hero-to-zero is told by Off-Ramp's Chris Greenspon, host of the podcast SGV Weekly, the best podcast ever about the San Gabriel Valley. (Subscribe!) Support for this podcast comes from Gordon and Dona Crawford, who believe that quality journalism makes Los Angeles a better place to live; and bythe Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. Off-Ramp theme music by Fesliyan Studios.
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  • Cover Art - Off-Ramp with John Rabe
    11:57
    11:57
    White officials thought late great sax man Big Jay McNeely was corrupting the youth
    When the Grammy Museum honored Big Jay McNeely in 2017, when he was 90, they said: McNeely is a true original and the last of a generation of blues/R&B musicians who inspired the early rock pioneers, and are still around to remind us where popular music came from. As Off-Ramp jazz correspondent Sean J. O'Connell put it when he interviewed him for the show: "Big Jay McNeely was etched into pop music immortality in 1951. Photographer Bob Willoughby captured McNeely at a concert at Los Angeles's Olympic Auditorium 1951. In the photo, the Watts native is blasting his tenor sax on his back, the camera capturing the raised fists of post-war teenage hysteria seething in undershirts and pompadours at the foot of the stage. From Central Avenue with Charlie Parker and Art Tatum in the 1940s to the R&B circuit of the '50s and '60s, McNeely was there through a roller coaster of musical evolutions and had a good time along the way. His showmanship and soul are both youthful and timeless. He is rock & roll history, alive and well." Big Jay died a year later, but not before our listeners got to hear his story, and now you do, too. Support for this podcast is made possible by Gordon and Dona Crawford, who believe that quality journalism makes Los Angeles a better place to live; and bythe Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. Off-Ramp theme music by Fesliyan Studios. Bob Willoughby photo used with permission from his estate.
  • Cover Art - Off-Ramp with John Rabe
    18:55
    18:55
    Meet the only novelist to score 38,387 points in the NBA. Spoiler Alert: It's Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and "Mycroft Holmes," set in an accurate multi-cultural London
    There's something Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has loved as long as he's loved basketball: Sherlock Holmes. Like so many of us, he watched the old movies with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce on TV and fell under Holmes' spell; he even thought Holmes was a real detective. In 2015, when Kareem published his well-regarded "Mycroft Holmes," a mystery-adventure about Sherlock's smarter brother, he joined me on Off-Ramp to talk about it. Kareem is smart; there's little in Doyle's stories about Mycroft, leaving the field open to him and his co-author Anna Waterhouse to tell new stories, and not incidentally let Kareem explore his Trinidadian heritage, and paint a more accurate picture of the multi-cultural London of Victorian England. Support for this podcast is made possible by Gordon and Dona Crawford, who believe that quality journalism makes Los Angeles a better place to live; and bythe Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. (Off-Ramp theme music by Fesliyan Studios.)
  • Cover Art - Off-Ramp with John Rabe
    11:43
    11:43
    Alex Ross says you're probably humming "Star Wars" wrong ... and more on the surprising music of John Williams, who is NOT a copycat.
    John Williams is so ubiquitous now, as former leader of the Boston Pops and the man behind the music for so many Lucas and Spielberg films; and old-fashioned lush orchestral scores are now so common, it's hard to believe they were endangered a few decades ago. But they were, and Alex Ross, the New Yorker music writer, says you can thank Williams. In a long Off-Ramp interview from 2016 with tons of musical examples, Alex makes the case for Williams, and debunks the notion that the maestro is any sort of plagiarist. He also gamely demonstrates how to properly hum the Star Wars theme. Support for this podcast is made possible by Gordon and Dona Crawford, who believe that quality journalism makes Los Angeles a better place to live; and bythe Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. (Off-Ramp theme music by Fesliyan Studios.)
  • Cover Art - Off-Ramp with John Rabe
    18:02
    18:02
    In-depth with Renaissance man LeVar Burton ... from "Roots" to "Reading Rainbow" to TNG to comics to St Augustine
    LeVar Burton has been blessed with enough intelligence, curiosity, and talent to be a pop-culture triple threat. When most actors would be happy to have one iconic role, he's been Kunta Kinte in "Roots," Geordi in "Star Trek: The Next Generation," and the host of "Reading Rainbow." When we talked in 2012, we covered all that and a lot more ... like his favorite saint, and what it was like having Richard Burton as a father. (Kidding!) And, since we're dropping this episode just before Juneteenth, we're including LeVar's readings of the Preamble to the US Constitution, plus the 13th and 15th Amendments. (Note: Burton cites Bill Cosby's work in children's educational TV ... this interview was conducted two years before the allegations that would eventually lead to Cosby's prison sentence.) Support for this podcast is made possible by Gordon and Dona Crawford, who believe that quality journalism makes Los Angeles a better place to live; and bythe Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. (Off-Ramp theme music by Fesliyan Studios.)
  • Cover Art - Off-Ramp with John Rabe
    6:38
    6:38
    "Ragged, loud, and fast. We had found our band." Metallica's backstory, told by a kid who was there
    Nowadays, Steven Cuevas is a classy public radio veteran. But back when Metallica was just starting to find fame, he was one of the sweaty kids who formed the band's first real fanbase. And when he wanted to tell the story on Off-Ramp in 2009, when Metallica was being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, he got ahold of never-before-heard tape to take us back to those early days in San Francisco. Support for this podcast is made possible by Gordon and Dona Crawford, who believe that quality journalism makes Los Angeles a better place to live; and bythe Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. (Off-Ramp theme music by Fesliyan Studios.)
  • Cover Art - Off-Ramp with John Rabe
    19:08
    19:08
    The backstory to El Chicano's groundbreaking megahit, that time Adolfo was name-checked on "The Simpsons," and the podcast that connects the dots
    It's a three-fer this week! First, in the summer of 1970, you couldn't pass through the un-airconditioned parts of Los Angeles without hearing radios blaring "Viva Tirado," the groundbreaking hit from El Chicano ... an East LA band who were the first Latino group to play The Apollo. We get the story from band member Bobby Espinoza. Then, as KPCC's Adolfo Guzman Lopez works on his new podcast, The Forgotten Revolutionary - the new season of Imperfect Paradise from LAist Studios - we listen back to an early instance of Adolfo talking about his background on KPCC ... the occasion being the time he was name-checked on "The Simpsons." And finally, we listen to the trailer for The Forgotten Revolutionary, which is about Oscar Gomez, a tragic star of the Chicano rights movement, whose radio show used "Viva Tirado" as its theme song. It's also about Adolfo's history as an activist, which he is revealing for the first time as he explores what happened to Gomez. Support for this podcast is made possible by Gordon and Dona Crawford, who believe that quality journalism makes Los Angeles a better place to live; and bythe Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. (Off-Ramp theme music by Fesliyan Studios.)
  • Cover Art - Off-Ramp with John Rabe
    10:38
    10:38
    Naked Reporter Ends Drought? Sanden Totten teaches us how to save water by taking a "Navy Shower" ... plus an astronaut tells us how they stay clean in space
    With Governor Newsom contemplating mandatory water restrictions - because we are actually using MORE water this year, despite his warnings - it seems like a good time to bring back the time Sanden Totten, now the host of Brains On, took a timed Navy shower back in 2015 ... on the radio. The Navy shower is a strategy for getting clean when you're on a boat with limited freshwater, and lots of sweaty seafarers in line behind you. (People in the Navy apparently call landlubber showers "Hollywood showers.") In this episode, Sanden also chats with an astronaut about how they use and reuse water in space. And drink what used to be pee. You have been warned. Support for this podcast is made possible by Gordon and Dona Crawford, who believe that quality journalism makes Los Angeles a better place to live; and bythe Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. (Off-Ramp theme music by Fesliyan Studios.)
  • Cover Art - Off-Ramp with John Rabe
    23:24
    23:24
    Peacock, eat your heart out! Off-Ramp host John Rabe rode shotgun in the pink Corvette with the real Angelyne
    It was 2015. I was at a comic book store late one night and in strode Chris Nichols of LA Magazine. "John, Angelyne is outside and she'd give you a ride in the pink Corvette if you want." He had me at Angelyne, and the ride was awesome. 45 minutes later I had an audio portrait of one of the hardest working women in Hollywood who strives to live within her warm pink bubble. And later, when the Hollywood Reporter finally uncovered her backstory, it all made sense. As also told in the Peacock miniseries, Angelyne was fighting the dehumanizing legacy of the Holocaust in her family. This episode also features a fresh interview with LAist's Mike Roe about the miniseries, Angelyne's reaction to it, and our mutual admiration for a woman who remade herself and her life. Support for this podcast is made possible by Gordon and Dona Crawford, who believe that quality journalism makes Los Angeles a better place to live; and bythe Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. (Off-Ramp theme music by Fesliyan Studios.)
Credits