Alison Rosen works out of the roomy upstairs apartment she shares with her husband, Daniel Quantz, and their cute little pooch, Wendy, in Los Angeles, but she is Orange County through and through.
Born in Oakland, Rosen was 1 when her parents moved into the same Corona del Mar house in which they reside today. "I think they wanted a safe place to raise kids," she says from her apartment's comfy sofa. She spent her Orange County years becoming a professional journalist, punk-rock guitarist and subject of hilarious self-deprecating exploits she frequently shares on her popular podcast Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend, which is recorded from her dining-room table.
Having written for the Los Angeles Times, Time Out New York, Village Voice, Rolling Stone, Elle and even OC Weekly, Rosen reluctantly found herself in the middle of intense media coverage earlier this year when Adam Carolla revealed he had fired her after four years as The Adam Carolla Show podcast's "news girl."
Over the holidays, Rosen and Quantz were vacationing in New York, where she received an email from Carolla saying she was out--something she says she did not see coming. When listeners found out, there was a huge backlash. "A lot of people reached out to me who were sad over what happened," Rosen says. "Many said they didn't agree with it; some of these were in [Carolla's] inner sanctum and guests" of his show.
This prompted Carolla, who had been vague about the reasons for the firing, to release a very nasty version of events that Rosen promptly shot down on her Feb. 7 Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend podcast titled "Special Weekend Episode (A Dreaded Pukepocalypse)." She has now put the fiasco behind her, focusing on auditioning for television work and expanding her podcast to three times per week. She's contemplating going to five times per week, with different formats on different days and the possibility of live remotes in front of audiences.
A woman pulling this off is rare in the comedy-podcast boys' club dominated by the likes of Marc Maron, Joe Rogan and Chris Hardwick. But it's not surprising when you consider Rosen was battle-tested by Orange County's punk-rock scene.
A couple of months before graduating from Pomona College in 1997, her bass-playing friend Yami Burns called to say she was forming a band, which would become the three-grrrl/one-dude outfit the Angoras that went on to play Linda's Doll Hut, the Shack, Club Mesa, Tiki Bar, Koo's Cafe, Club 369 and Chain Reaction, among many other spots. "We toured a little bit," put out a self-titled EP and got "some sniffs, not a deep inhale" from record labels, Rosen recalls.
She stuck with it for five years, never having been as serious about a career in music as her band mates. What Rosen's heart was into was writing. She'd written for her Corona del Mar High School newspaper The Trident, and that led to writing assignments for the Los Angeles Times' student life/issues page, "The High Life." A Times piece on bands dealing with pay-to-play policies caught the attention of the editor of Mean Street, the former OC music magazine that she would go on to write for during the summer before college. She also contributed to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and Axcess, a glossy technology lifestyle/culture magazine that published her cover stories on Milla Jovovich, Sandra Bullock and, for their first cover story in a national magazine, No Doubt.
At OC Weekly, where she started as a freelancer before being hired full-time, she covered several topics, but the story that follows her to this day was her April 5, 2001, cover story, "Aaaiiiiiiiiieeeeeeee!!! Alison M. Rosen confesses her love of Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light." She would get Kinkade-themed gifts for several years to follow. "I think it was a great time," she said of her years at the Weekly.
She left Orange County for New York, where she initially freelanced for Spin, Vibe, Rolling Stone, Seventeen, People and Elle before being hired at Time Out New York. It was while there that she received an email announcing that WNBC was looking for Time Out staffers to appear on the weekend edition of Today In New York. Rosen jumped at the chance, parlaying her first appearance on the television program into a weekly gig for the next three years. That led to a spot on the panel of FOX News' irreverent late-night comedy show Red Eye. New York is also where Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend began as a Ustream show.
A family member's health issues in 2010 prompted so much bicoastal travel that it made more sense for her to move back to Southern California. Before she departed the Big Apple, her followers wrote on her Facebook page that Adam Carolla was looking for a "news girl" and that she would be a perfect fit. Her agent struck out trying to land an audition, so she emailed a friend "whom I suspected might know someone over there because he seemed to know everyone."
Her friend got her reel to Carolla's people, she returned to California, forgot about the gig--and then got a message asking if she would be available to audition in November 2010. A roster of proposed sidekicks were then on the podcast with Carolla until the list was narrowed to four, each of whom would be on for a week. Rosen's audition was last--and followed by a job offer.
The move also prompted her to do something she had been thinking about for some time: change Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend into a podcast. She quickly built an audience, no doubt helped by promotion on The Adam Carolla Show. "Life really improved when I got back," Rosen says modestly of a return to Southern California that included appearances with Carolla in sold-out venues and on Chelsea Lately and @midnight, among other TV shows.
Most important, she met Quantz, a graphic novelist and publisher. He was a fan of the show who emailed her to say he enjoyed her writing, which led to them hanging out together as friends. Rosen explained she was not interested in a romantic relationship at that time, having just moved from LA back to OC to help care for an ailing parent. But one night, while out in LA together, Quantz confided he had feelings for her.
"I said I don't believe in 'the friend zone' and that if people belong together, they'll end up together," she recalls. "Then he dropped me off at my parents' house, and as we turned to hug each other, all of the sudden, we kissed. We've been together ever since."
They married last year and are now struggling to have a baby, as listeners know from her frequent and frank Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend discussions about their fertility issues. "It is not going that well," she says. "If I do not get pregnant this month, IVF [in-vitro fertilization] is next."
As for the future beyond childbearing?
"I really would like to host my own TV show while also continuing to do my podcast. That's a dream I've had for a long time," she says. "The thing I am above all else is an interviewer. I've done it since I was 18."
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