Holiday Driving Wrap Up: Podcast Recommendations

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We all dread the long hours of holiday driving required of us between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. In-car entertainment can ease this pain, but selecting audio material is no easy task. It needs to appeal to all passengers, be lively, and maybe a little humorous. Below are four podcasts that not only fit the criteria, but also inspired discussion in the car, over road-trip meals, and with relatives at our destinations.

Reply All

Reply All is a podcast based around the very broad topic of technology. While the creators really are experienced professionals in investigative journalism, sometimes it feels like they are stumbling into interesting topics without common sense, giving the show its own special charm.

Memorable Episodes:
  • Zardulu – Is Pizza Rat a fraud?
  • Long Distance Parts I & II – After receiving one scam call, the team turns the tables and investigates/harasses the originating company, culminating in a visit to their headquarters in India.
  • Is Facebook Spying on You? – Can the team convince you that Facebook is not recording your conversations?
  • The Russian Passenger (story continued in Beware All and The Return of the Russian Passenger) – Someone’s Uber account gets hacked. The team researches how this happened.

S-Town

S-Town is a seven-part podcast series created by some of the same people behind This American Life and Serial. It’s hard to give a good synopsis without spoilers, but I’ll try. Host Brian Reed interviews, investigates, and strikes up a friendship with listener John B. McLemore, a specialist in antique clocks living in Woodstock Alabama. The series starts out as an investigation into an alleged murder, turns into a search for buried gold, and ends with a twist worth waiting for.

99% Invisible

99% Invisible looks at interesting topics and case studies in design, architecture, and engineering.

Memorable Episodes:
  • Ten Thousand Years – Discusses the results of a focus group of academics, science fiction writers, and designers called upon to create a way to warn humans of the dangers of WIPP, a nuclear disposal site, 10,000 years into the future.
  • Structural Integrity – Looks at the story of CitiCorp Center, how a fatal flaw in its design was discovered and corrected in secret.

Criminal

Criminal focuses on true crime cases. Its strength is in its topic selection and interviews.

Memorable Episodes:
  • Animal Instincts – Is an innocent man in jail for a murder committed by an owl?
  • Money Tree – After having her identify stolen as a child, Axton Betz-Hamilton made childhood identity theft her life’s work and eventually discovered the shocking culprit behind her own case.

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