If you haven’t listened to the first two seasons of “Serial” yet, a road trip is the best time to check out one of the best podcasts. (Photo: Casey Fiesler)
When the “I-Spy” games become monotonous and your friend with bad taste in music self-appoints himself DJ, you’ll want to have an alternative form of road trip entertainment at the ready.
Engaging, informative and designed to be as binge-worthy as your favorite show on Netflix, the best podcasts have wide enough appeal to keep everyone happy on those dreaded long-haul drives.
Here are seven of our favorites.
The gist: Marriott Traveler recently introduced its first podcast, “Behind the Design,” to explore the thought process behind creating today’s hotels. Marc Graser, Editorial Director for Marriott Global Creative + Content Marketing, co-hosts the series with Megan Nadolski, of Marriott’s design group, and the two get to the bottom of how hotels are trying to improve bad art, and why carpet and croissants should never appear in a lobby bar. It’s the little details that Skift said creates a podcast that’s perfect for “hotel nerds.”
Listen to: Episode 3, “Hotel Bathrooms.”
The gist: The New York Times has published over 600 “Modern Love” essays since debuting the popular column back in 2004. But now that it’s been adapted into a radio show, you can enjoy the column’s poignant, tear-jerking stories about love and relationships as you hit the open road. Judd Apatow, January Jones and Emmy Rossum are among the narrators to bring these heartfelt anecdotes to life, but our personal favorite to date is Jason Alexander — best known as George Costanza — reading a story about a man dealing with the death of his daughter’s goldfish in “One Last Swirl.”
Listen to: Episode 26, “One Last Swirl.”
The gist: From award-winning producer Roman Mars comes 99% Invisible — the podcast dedicated to spotlighting oft-undersung elements of architecture and design. Episodes range from fascinating to obscure, and cover such topics such as why a school was once built underground; the reason there’s a lone phone booth in the middle of the Mojave Desert; and the story behind the “I <3 New York” slogan. Best part? The episodes run just 5-10 minutes, so you can cover a lot of ground (get it?!) in even the shortest of drives.
Listen to: Episode 108, “Barcodes.”
The gist: The podcast to end all podcasts, Serial has 80 million downloads and counting. Season one delves into a 1999 murder case of student Hae Min Lee and the subsequent conviction of her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed — a gripping, perplexing and nail-biting tale blending superlative storytelling and investigative reporting. Of course, you’ll need to clear a good chunk of your schedule; this is the stuff of binge-listening sprees.
Listen to: Season one.
The gist: Longform is about journalism — the stories, the subjects, the writers and the inspiration. But you don’t have to be a wannabe Walter Cronkite to get hooked on the addictive weekly podcast by hosts Aaron Lammer, Max Linsky and Evan Ratliff. Curious to know what it’s like to interview Kanye West? Or have Azealia Banks cook chicken noodle soup for you as part of a profile story? Longform is packed with riveting tell-all’s like this and much more.
Listen to: Episode 137, “Rachel Syme.”
The gist: A program featuring interviews, profiles, storytelling and humor, The New Yorker Radio Hour is a bit of a mixed bag. But if you’re the type to pore over the pages of the iconic weekly mag, we can guarantee you’ll love listening to editor in chief David Remnick chat with public intellectuals like Ta-Nehisi Coates and Nate Silver, as well as comedians, Larry Davis, Amy Schumer and Amy Poehler.
Listen to: Episode 14, “The Koch Brothers, the Ninth Planet and an Undefeated Female Boxer.”
The gist: Call yourself a cinephile? Well, you’ll find plenty reason to nerd out over this film history podcast about “the secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century,” by Karina Longworth. The film historian and critic covers topics from Frank Sinatra space opera that we never knew existed to Rita Hayworth’s career-boosting decision to undergone hairline electrolysis. It’s 40-ish minutes of sex, scandal and celluloid.
Listen to: Episode 13, “Bogart, Before Bacall.”