Ah, the great roadtrip. Long hours in a car can be filled with intense conversation, fun games, and wonderful music. Or it can be boring as hell. Knock out that boredom with some of the best podcasts for your roadtrip, updated quarterly. Hare some of my favorite podcasts for the road.
Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich produce and host this show that airs on NPR‘s WNYC in New York. The show’s website says they’re “On a curiosity bender,” which I find a great way to be. These guys are curiosity ninjas. The chemistry between Jad, Robert, and their subjects is fantastic, and the show’s editing, done by Jad, is some of the best I’ve ever heard. Each episode, they pick a topic, then delve deep into the how, why, and who of it. From deception to musical earworms to musical language, these podcasts sneak up on the unknown and destroy it with a knowledge smackdown.
Americans live complex and varied lives. Sure, the rest of the world has a rich history and set of cultures too, but there’s just something about living life in America that is simultaneously fascinating and heartbreaking. Ira Glass, host of This American Life, and his cast of producers examines what makes this country what it is. Like Radio Lab, there is a theme to each show, but the theme is usually broken down into 3 or 4 stories about real people in real, every day situations…situations that may not necessarily feel so “everyday.” Be careful with this podcast, because it can get pretty emotional and heavy at times. But man, it’s worth it to know that we’re not alone.
On the lighter side of things, The Nerdist is pretty much what it sounds like: Host Chris Hardwick and his merry band of comedic ne’er-do-wells (yep, I said “ne’er-do-wells”; deal with it) invite a guest on the show to nerd out about comedy, technology, movies, music, and whatever else nerds freak out about. You may know Hardwick from such pop-culture shenanigans as MTV’s Singled Out, G4′s Web Soup, and PBS’s Wired Science. The standup comedian and his friends crack me up everytime I listen to the show, which makes me come to the harsh realization that I am an über nerd. Awesome.
TWiT is a weekly technology show hosted by Leo Laporte, who has taken his original This Week in Tech show and transformed it into an entire podcast network complete with shows on just about every relevant technology topic. The TWiT network boasts a whole host of shows, but my favorite remains the network’s namesake. Leo hosts a weekly roundtable with a panel of tech experts who join him, sometimes from all corners of the glob to chat about the latest tech news. If you’re a real geek with a penchant for keeping up on the latest iPhone announcement or what’s new in Windows, this 2 hour long podcast will keep you happy.
In keeping with the science and technology theme, TED talks are super inspirational lectures given by experts on topics ranging from artistic creation to robotic limbs, and beyond. You can get lost in these talks, so pay attention if you’re driving!
If you absolutely hate filmmaker Kevin Smith and his sense of humor with all your being, you might want to avoid this one (and get your sense of humor checked by a professional. Something’s wrong). Smith joins actor and radio host Ralph Garmin in this hourlong topical live show that’s taped in front of a live studio audience at the Jon Lovitz Podcast Theater in L.A. They play silly games, talk about celebrity news, make fun of silly and inane things, and overall entertain each other with vulgar humor. I love this one.
Staying in the film arena, stoner-comedian Doug Benson plays made up movie trivia games with his comedian friends on Doug Loves Movies, where – to paraphrase “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” – the rules are made up and the points don’t matter. But listening to Doug, who is usually fairly “relaxed” when he starts the show at 4:20pm, try to rein in his comedian buddies to play these fairly stupid trivia games almost always leaves me laughing out loud. Which can be awkward when you’re jogging past rush hour traffic on Main Street.