PICTURED: Family of Adolfo Camarillo at Camarillo Ranch in 1945. From left: Adolfo and wife Isabella, Francisco (on horse), Ave, Carmen (on horse) and Rosa. Man behind them is possibly Harold Burket. (Photo submitted)

by Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer

A new podcast that launched this month will pay homage to all things related to Camarillo. 

The aptly named Hyperlocal Camarillo will tell the story of this city: the people who lived here, the events that shaped it, even the less savory characters who left their mark. The podcast sprang largely from the mind of local historian and author David Reel.

“I’ve always been interested in history, but specifically local history,” explains Reel.

A 1945 aerial photo of Camarillo. (Photo submitted)

Reel has made a name for himself through the power of social media. For the past 7-8 years, he’s collected hundreds of photos of the area, and posted them on his Facebook page, Historical Camarillo and Ventura County. 

“And people really like them!” Reel says, adding that those who see his images often ask questions, share information (sometimes identifying the people in them) or add context. “So that engages activity and discussion.”

Reel already had a small following thanks to The David Reel Show, a podcast available on his website, davidreelwrites.com, in which Reel dishes with guests about news, life, culture and everything in between. Facebook discussions around the historical images, however, made Reel realize that the local public was hungry for stories related to Ventura County’s past — and inspired the development of Hyperlocal Camarillo.. 

“This podcast we pretty much take something local — like St. Mary Magdalen Church, the Oxnard Plain, or Rancho Calleugas — and we talk about how they came to be, how they came to form, and we convert them into stories,” Reel explains. “Josh and I pretty much add humor to it to give it a flavor. So now the listener’s not only getting the history, but they’re getting a really good story and a bit of our personalities as well.”

“Josh” would be Josh McDonald, Reel’s co-host and friend of 30 years, a local musician who almost made it big with the punk band HeyMike! in the early-aughts.

“We got signed to a label in 2003,” McDonald recalls. “They tried to make rock stars out of us. They got close, but they didn’t make it all the way, and I had to get a real job.”

St. Mary Magdalen Church in Camarillo, July 20, 1924. (Photo submitted)

While McDonald was in college in Houston, Reel would sometimes call to tell him about his trips, sending photos and telling stories about them. “And his stories just happen to be better than anybody else’s,” McDonald says. One story involved McDonald’s own family. 

“I’m a Dufault . . .The Dufaults have farmland around here. My great grandfather moved out from French Basque territory in the early 20th century. … Dave was able to find the history on it and he sent it to me. That really sparked my interest in local history; it hit me in a personal point.”

McDonald says that he’s had a lot of fun working with Reel to bring Hyperlocal Camarillo to life. Reel usually does the research, while the two of them work on the scripts together and record at Reel’s house. McDonald also performs original music for some of the episodes.

Adding polish and professionalism is the job of Barry Funkhouser of 567Podcast. The virtual podcast producer has 20 years of experience, and counts comedian Tom Green and wedding magazine Destination I Do among his clients. 

“David’s a local historian legend here in town on Facebook,” says Funkhouser. “He came out with a book, Camarillo: Past and Present. I found the book to be fascinating.”

Funkhouser and Reel have known each other since high school. They recently reconnected through some mutual friends, and the producer was intrigued by Reel’s knowledge and podcast experience. 

“I thought this would be a great project with the new hyper-local trend,” Funkhouser explains. “Podcast listeners are beginning to be more excited about listening to things closer to home.”

Hyperlocal Camarillo will consist of 25-minute episodes offered about every two weeks. The first one came out on June 12 and features the history of the Oxnard Plain.

“We’ve got the Oxnard Plain in the can, that’s how floods shaped California and the agricultural industry,” Reel says. “We’ve recorded Rancho Calleguas, and that traces back to the transportation system to getting the agriculture out of the county and the state and the country internationally. We cover May Rindge and the Pacific Coast Highway . . . [Rindge] owned Rancho Topanga; Malibu. She did not want the government coming across her land . . . She fought the government . . . It went to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court went against her, and that’s how you get the Pacific Coast Highway.”

Josh McDonald and David Reel, hosts of Hyperlocal Camarillo. (Photo submitted)

Future episodes will delve into Adolfo Camarillo, some true crime, and possibly a retracing of McDonald’s roots. 

Funkhouser says 10 episodes are planned for this first season, with “Facebook Live Q&A sessions in between the podcasts, where we open up to the public so that they can fill in the gaps with missing information that we can jump on and investigate.”

“We’re also planning on doing a video version of this at the end of the first season,” Funkhouser continues. “We’re planning on taking the best stories and turning them into a video podcast . . . It will be Josh and Dave talking about history and there will be old photos . . . Storytelling but in video form.”

McDonald hopes the audience will get as much joy out of listening to the podcast as he had in creating it with Reel, and that it will give listeners a new appreciation for local lore. 

“I never thought I’d enjoy local history this much,” he says. “A lot of people just don’t understand how interesting their own history is. And that’s what we really want to bring to the forefront.”

Hyperlocal Camarillo can be found on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Spreaker and several other directories. For more information on David Reel, visit  davidreelwrites.com.