Summer is well on its way, and with it, permanent change of stations and Family vacation season hovering over the horizon. With long car rides or airplane flights looming, you may be dreading those hours filled with nothing but boring road trip games and the same 14 songs playing over and over again on the radio.
Once a year, I travel to my hometown to visit my Family for Christmas. It’s about a 16-hour drive and I always get sick of the radio (or any haphazard playlist I threw together) by the time I hit Dallas. To combat fatigue and bored-ness, I listen to podcasts for most of the trip.
There’s a podcast for nearly any subject of interest you may have. News and current events? Check. True crime? Check. History? Check. Science? Check. Fashion? Check. Sports? Double-check. If you’re really into politics, there’s certainly a podcast for anywhere on the political spectrum you may land.
The first podcast series I really delved into was “This American Life,” produced by National Public Radio. Hosted by NPR veteran Ira Glass, each episode of “This American Life” centers around a general theme or topic told in stories over three acts. Sometimes the connections between the stories are closer, sometimes they’re looser and sometimes they’re just different parts of the same story. I personally don’t find every episode or story that interesting, so I only listen to the episodes that have a subject I care about or a story that is special.
The podcast that sees the most playing time on my phone is “Stuff You Missed in History Class” by HowStuffWorks. I’m a huge history nerd and I also love learning obscure trivia. This podcast has an extensive catalogue, dating back to 2009, and currently has new episodes released every Monday and Thursday. Through this podcast, I’ve learned about the history of the “Honey War” between Missouri and Iowa, Desmond T. Doss, the West Point Egg Nog Riot and so much more. These episodes tend to be about half an hour, but most of the time I wish they could be two or three times as long. The subjects covered in this podcast are almost always kid-friendly, but the hosts will give warning at the start of the episode if the subject is a little more sensitive or mature for younger audiences.
HowStuffWorks also produces another history podcast called “Ridiculous History,” which is about an hour long and runs along the same lines as “Missed in History,” but told with much more humor.
True crime podcasts are very popular right now. I’m obsessed with one called “My Favorite Murder,” which is a comedy true crime podcast. Those two genres don’t sound like they go together, but trust me, they do. For true crime podcasts, the episodes vary from being stand-alone subjects or serialized. Some of my favorites are “Serial,” “In the Dark,” “Atlanta Monster,” “Up and Vanished,” “Dirty John” and “The Fall Line.” Most of these series aren’t really kid-friendly, so I wouldn’t recommend listening with youngsters around.
I try to start most days with the New York Times’ “The Daily” podcast, which is a short, 20-minute run down of the biggest stories of the day and why they’re
The best storytelling in podcast form, in my opinion, comes from Aaron Mahnke’s “Lore” and ESPN’s “30 for 30” podcasts. “Lore” features a different story from folklore – many you’ve probably never even heard of – each episode and is often very spooky, but not too scary. Like the ESPN video documentary series, “30 for 30” tells the stories of a wide array of moments, movements and people in sports history. The episode focusing on the iconic “Yankees Suck” T-shirt of Boston Red Sox fans’ is particularly good.
Podcasts aren’t just great for traveling. I’m pretty much always listening to a podcast – driving to work, grocery shopping, going to the laundromat, getting ready in the morning, cleaning and pretty much anywhere I can. Music can be tiring or repetitive and podcasts are a great alternative to talk radio because you can pause and play and rewind whenever you need to. Most, if not all, smartphones and music listening devices have a podcast app, and apps are easy to find in app stores.
Podcasts are also great for summertime travels and activities because not only can they be entertaining, but they can be educational and informative – battling the summer “brain drain” between school years.
Like I said, there’s a podcast for just about every subject interest. Just type in the search bar and find your new favorite show.