A Shout-out to Those That Make My Commute More Pleasant


For years now, whether I am driving alone, car-pooling, or taking public transit, I have had a podcast or an audiobook on the go.

My commutes have varied between 20 minutes to 2 hours or more. That is just far too long to listen to same 5 ‘hit’ songs repeat on the radio day after day, or to subject myself to some obscure ‘hip’ album by some band who’s fan base mostly consists of high-school friends and fawning parents. Or worse – sports news (noooooooooooooooo!!!!)

Audiobooks and podcasts have been far more entertaining, informative, educational and interesting to listen to, so I would just like to engage in a little ‘signal boosting’ (as the folks at Escape Pod say).

Podcasts:

  • Science:
    • Astronomy Cast
      • Hosts Fraser Cain and Dr. Pamela Gay discuss ‘not only what we know, but how we know what we know’ about the universe in a delightful conversational dialogue. When I discovered this one back in 2008, I immediately went back to episode 1, whereupon this podcast has become an ineluctable part of my week, and both of Fraser and Pamela have become my close, personal friends (though they don’t know it).
    • StarTalk
      • Neil deGrasse Tyson interviews famous and should-be-famous people from science, entertainment, politics, sports, etc., to discuss how science relates to their work and/or cultural contributions.
  • Programming: (I admit: I should have more entries in this category)
    • Coding Blocks
      • Alan, Joe, and Michael delve into all things ‘programmy’ (‘programmish’? ‘programalistic’?  … ‘programostic’!!!). From frameworks to languages; from how to start learning to program, to what are good qualities in an IT team lead; from standing desks to graphic cards – there isn’t any aspect of programming and being a programmer that these three don’t explore, explain and expound on. Once you give these guys a listen, I think you’ll forgive me for only having one entry in this section.
  • Fiction:
    • Drabblecast
      • Weirdly twisted tales of horror/sf/fantasy. If you’re looking for ‘something different‘ then this is it.
    • Escape Pod
      • A great variety of stories by an amazing pool of writers. I can’t recommend this one enough. And if you don’t like the tone or subject of one story, listen on: the next one will be very different.
    • Lightspeed Magazine
      • Another ever entertaining source of remarkable SF stories. Subscribe to both Escape Pod and Lightspeed to double your SF fun.
  • Other:
    • Under The Influence
      • I started listening to Terry O’Reilly’s The Age of Persuasion podcast years ago. Always entertaining, and packed full of trivia, Terry’s stories from the world of advertising and marketing will not only educate you about what’s behind the ‘Mad Men’ curtain, but will often enlighten you about the products you see, use and purchase, how they came to be and how and why they should (or shouldn’t) be a part of our lives.
  • Comedy:

Audiobooks

I won’t presume to tell you what books you may like. Rather, let me just recommend the Scribd service as an excellent way to find and obtain great audiobooks of any genre or topic.

Finally, I want to say thank you to all the people who create, work on and distribute podcasts of all sorts, whatever they may be about and wherever they may be. The broadcasts you have provided have, and continue to, brighten a good portion of my workdays.

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