Long, solo road trips not only offer the opportunity to enjoy new landscapes and people along the way—they also provide ample time to explore uncharted territory within one’s own head. It’s self-reflection “quality time” and a chance to allow thoughts to twist and turn like the undulating road ahead. With that said, long travel by oneself also creates a hunger to hear someone else’s voice. A plethora of mp3’s is mandatory, but a little adult discussion (even one-sided) helps break-up the monotony—someone to “ride shotgun,” so to speak.
With a few road trips already scheduled for 2019, I thought I’d share some podcasts that help pass the time when another voice is needed beside one’s own. In no particular order, here are a few interesting travel partners to fill that empty passenger’s seat.
I recently began listening to this podcast and it quickly become one of my favorites (an interesting episode focuses on my home, Lake Tahoe, and some of the environmental challenges we face). The host, Jared Blumenfeld, was the regional administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency, served as the Director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment, chaired the first United Nations World Environment Day held in the US, and founded the Business Council on Climate Change and Green Cities California. He’s also an avid hiker and completed the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada.
Home of the Brave
This podcast is hosted by Scott Carrier. Carrier’s pieces have been featured on American Life, The Savvy Traveler, Marketplace, Day to Day, All Things Considered, and Hearing Voices. In 2015, Carrier began producing Home of the Brave and the podcast combines original stories with work that previously aired on other radio shows. The podcast focuses on environmental, social, political, and cultural issues, and Carrier recently aired a series about the US/Mexico border and the present immigration situation. My daughter turned me on to this podcast last year and I’ve listened to most every episode.
This is an old favorite of mine (what better way to wrap up the week?!) SciFri is hosted by award-winning science journalist Ira Flatow. On television, he hosted the Emmy Award-winning PBS series Newton’s Apple, a television science program for children and their families. Later he hosted the program Big Ideas (also a PBS series) and has published several books, the most recent titled Present at the Future: From Evolution to Nanotechnology, Candid and Controversial Conversations on Science and Nature.
This American Life
Another product of NPR, this was the first podcast I uploaded on my original iPhone many moons ago. With excellent story-telling by Ira Glass, this show is produced in collaboration with Chicago Public Media. Each week features a different theme that is explored in several “acts” (or sometimes an entire program will consist of a single act.) Each one is produced by a combination of staff and freelance contributors, and they begin with an introduction by Glass describing the theme.
Intercepted with Jeremy Scahill
News and political commentary based on its online publication, The Intercept, this podcast is a welcome departure from mainstream media. It touts itself as “adversarial journalism” and they don’t pull any punches. It initially served as a platform to report on the documents released by Edward Snowden, with the long-term goal of producing journalism across a wide range of issues. Betsy Reed, Glen Greenwald, and Jeremy Scahill serve as editors for The Intercept.
LIVE! From City Lights
If you can’t be perusing the bookshelves of one of the most legendary bookstores in NorCal, why not tune-in and listen to some of their guests and lecturers? From Joyce Carol Oates to the re-issue party of Ginsberg’s HOWL, it’s always an entertaining educational experience to hear what’s going on at City Lights Books in San Francisco.
WTF with Mark Maron
Mark Maron always puts a grin on my face. I look forward to hearing his famous line at the beginning of each show—“Lock the Gates!” (from the movie, Almost Famous). A client of mine recommended WTF (What The Fuck) to me several years ago and I’ve been a fan ever since. A compassionate host with a wry sense of humor, Maron presents flawed characters as heroes, and heroes as real people. If you can pull off interviewing President Barack Obama in your garage, you have a knack for the biz. Be prepared to hear some well-known guests tell their side of the story. “Boomer lives!”
There are many other entertaining, educational, and informational podcasts I haven’t listed (ex. DemocracyNow! is another news source I enjoy, and journalist/host Amy Goodman is a bona fide badass), and I’m sure to discover more from friends and family.
Feel free to send me some of your favorites. I have a lot of miles to travel in 2019 and I’m always looking for someone to ride shotgun!