I just undertook the longest road trip of my life: over 37 hours, moving from Nashville (by way of the Chicago suburbs) to San Francisco. I stayed with friends along the way so most days I drove no more than 9 hours. Still, that's a lot of collective time on the road by one's self.
Though I am indeed a book nerd, I cannot pay attention to audiobooks for the life of me. Instead, I turn to music and podcasts to fill up the hours of driving time. (Also, some periods of silence. There's nothing like an open road when it comes to introspection and reflection.)
I listen to a variety of podcasts but not all are conducive to long drives. For a road trip, I tend to think longer episodes are better. When else will you have so much uninterrupted time to listen? Unless you have a bunch of shorter ones saved up and they don't need to be listened to in a particular order. After all, you need to stay focused on the road, not glancing down at your phone to cue up the next episode.
These are the ones I turned to while moving across the country.
(Note: While the topics and people interviewed tend to be diverse in the shows I subscribe to, the podcast hosts are primarily white. I'm working to broaden my podcast subscriptions and if you have any suggestions of podcasts hosted by POC, I'm all ears. Pun intended.)
Best Podcasts For a Road Trip
I found out about this one thanks to an almost 2 hour interview they did with Cheryl Strayed (episode 144). She said something about an hour in that instantly resonated with me and will likely be my mantra as I settle into SF life. (I mentioned it in my What I'm Into post) Most of their interviews are around 1 hour long. I went through the archives and downloaded anyone I recognized or who sounded interesting. I especially recommend their interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates (episode 97).
I'd like just about anything Megan Tietz does but she has truly blown me away with her podcast from the beginning. Not only does she have the perfect voice for this medium, her co-hosts are fantastic and I love the variety of topics they tackle. I listened to two episodes during the drive: one on friendship and one on Myers-Briggs. I've been turning their discussion over in my mind ever since. It is truly awesome.
Don't forget: I got to be a guest co-host last month when Megan and I discussed all things Enneagram.
Pete Holmes is a comedian but I didn't know of him until he interviewed Richard Rohr, which was an amazing episode and I'm not just saying that as a Rohr fangirl. He primarily interviews fellow comedians but has started interviewing the occasional person of faith. Episodes tend to be 2 to 3 hours long, which makes them perfect for long stretches of driving time. Episodes are more conversation than interview and you learn just as much about the person being interviewed as you do about Holmes. Other favorites: Rob Bell, Ellie Kemper, and Demetri Martin.
Pop Culture Podcasts: Slate Culture Gabfest, NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, The Popcast
I love pop culture to the point of listening to 3 pop culture podcasts every week. Slate Culture Gabfest and Pop Culture Happy Hour discuss an array of topics and mediums and offer insightful critique. (I'm especially partial to PCHH because host Linda Holmes is super smart, yet also has a weakness for Hallmark movies.) My friends Knox and Jamie host The Popcast and their episodes kept me going through Iowa while I internally ranted about all the ways they were wrong, especially when Knox said Gilmore Girls isn't that great of a show. THE NERVE.
The hosts are progressive Christians and their guests and topics seem to be all over the map, which makes for great listening. If you haven't listened to the LGBTQ episode yet, get on it. Coming in at 2 hours, it's a solid exploration of the intersection of LGBTQ persons and faith from a variety of viewpoints. They also discussed some really interesting questions during their interview with Rachel Held Evans.
This show tackles the topics most of us avoid discussing. Host Anna Sale has a way of getting interview subjects to open up to her and we are better for it. Episodes vary in length, anywhere from 25 minutes to an hour. I cannot get enough of it! Recommended: This Senator Saved My Love Life, The NFL Made Me Rich. I Won't Watch It Now., Ellyn Burstyn's Lessons On Survival, A Funeral Director's Dead Reckoning (featuring my friend Caleb Wilde!), I Killed Someone. Now I Have 3 Kids., Where Is Lisa Fischer's Backup?, Cancer Changed Ken Jeong's Comedy, and W. Kamau Bell Wonders How Much Is Enough.
I always enjoy listening to Terry Gross's take on a variety of people and subjects. She is a master! The archives stretch pretty far back so download whatever and whomever interests you.
This podcast looks for common themes amongst the best TED talks and then host Guy Raz interviews the speakers to go further and deeper on the topic. I still regularly think about The Source of Creativity from last fall, and not just because we get to hear from both Sting and Elizabeth Gilbert. It's a great way to stay up to date on the best TED talks and learn more about what inspires the speakers.
I like to save up episodes of WWDTM and listen to them all at once. It always makes me laugh out loud, especially when Maz Jobrani is a guest. I wish I would have gone to a taping when I still lived in Chicagoland! It's a great and fun way to stay up to date on the latest news. (Their site hasn't been updated in a while but they regularly post new episodes on Facebook. Or you can subscribe to the show feed in your favorite podcast app.)
Would any list about podcasts be complete without TAL? I don't know how Ira Glass and his crew come across such interesting stories but we are all better for it. Recommended: Three Miles, Cops See It Differently, Part 1 and Part 2, Harper High School, Part 1 and Part 2, and Taking Names.
Unfortunately, if you want to listen to archived episodes, you can't do it through the Podcast app. Their website has them all, however.
This is one of my favorites. I've gone deep into the archives just so I could listen to more of Krista's interviews. I adore her and the people she talks with. However, she has a soothing voice, as do many of her guests. (Same with Dear Sugar.) When it comes to lengthy road trips, I will listen if I have a sense of how rousing the conversation will be, such as the Indigo Girls, Nadia Bolz-Weber (lost track of how many times I've listened to this one), Reza Aslan, and John Lewis. Otherwise, I'll listen when I'm not at risk of falling asleep. (Don't worry, Mom. I've never come close to falling asleep while driving.)
There aren't any new episodes but if you haven't listened to this one yet, you absolutely must. The stories they share and the connections they make are fascinating. Listen to alllllll of them.
What podcasts would you add to this list?