Plane, Train, Automobile, Pool Companion – Podcasts


I’ve fallen in the podcast hole.

Scratch that, I’ve jumped in the podcast pool.

With a bit of a commute most days, podcasts have been my constant companion. So, if you have an upcoming trip this summer with a loaded Kindle in tow but reading in the car makes you queasy or you’ve watched every in flight movie, maybe a really great podcast will be a good option.

There has been a bit of a podcast resurgence in the past year with thousands and thousands of episodes offered up weekly. To help you wade through the pool, here are some of my favorites.

Couple of quick notes. I subscribe – new episodes automatically download to my phone – to only a handful of podcasts. I’m choosy with the rest. There are two lists below – subscribed and a check in list (Pop in to see if I’m interested in any of the new episodes). For the check in list, I’ve listed my favorite episodes.

The links provided will take you to the website for the podcast, but I find it easiest and best to search your favorite podcast app and scroll through the episodes.


This American Life – The King. They have been telling stories for the longest and do it hella well. Most episodes are a little on the long side, but well worth it.

Embedded – Typically, NPR releases all radio produced content in podcast form. Embedded is one of a handful of podcast only shows from the station. It is newest edition and one of the most in depth.

The Big Boo Cast – Ladies, this one is a little more for you. These two hosts, Melanie Shankle and Sophie Hudson have been bloggers for years and each have a few books under their belts. They spit sports talk like they are on AM radio, but can also chat about the Nordstrom sale and the best brand of mascara. Bonus, they are hilarious. They don’t post often, but each one is well worth the time.

The Splendid Table – If I had to pick a favorite in this whole list, it would be the Splendid Table. This lands squarely in the foodie realm, but the host Lynn Rosetto Kasper is SO incredible good, you can’t help but wish she was your next door neighbor and best friend. If you can binge on Master Chef, Chef’s Table, Chopped and the like, you will love this.

The West Wing Weekly – My love for The West Wing is DEEP. Hrishikesh Hirway along with Joshua Molina, who played Will Bailey on the show, hosts this podcast which walks through one episode per week. With the show planted on Netflix, a whole new generation of people are discovering the brilliance of writer Aaron Sorkin. If you are a West Wing fan, you will love this podcast. Guests on the podcast includes former writers, consultants, and stars of the show.

Check in on these often:

Reply All – Miss Serial Season 1? This will tide you over. The podcast as a whole is about the internet, but four episodes are special. “On the Inside” follows blogger Paul Modrowski, in prison for a murder he claims he did not commit. The Reply All team tracks down Paul’s blog which is consistently updated despite his lack of internet access in prison. Gradually, the team uncovers Paul’s crime and conviction story. And it is incredible.

Favorite episodes: On the Inside Parts 1-4

Modern Love – I’ve cried a few tears over this one. These stories, submitted by NY Times readers, are heartbreaking, beautiful, brutal and joyful.
Favorite episodes: A Heart Outrun, A Faithful Leap

Fresh Air – Another NPR staple. This show airs every day so there are LOTS of episodes. The host Terry Gross can pull things out of her guests like no one else.
Favorite episodes: Nora Ephron’s Son Tells Her Story, Questlove Thompson Live On Stage, Black-ish Creator Kenya Burris

The Hidden Brain – Kind of science-y, kinda sociology, kinda psychology. The episodes are little 20 minute pops that are easy to understand.
Favorite episodes: Originals, Boredom, Stroke of Genius,

The NYPL Podcast –  If you’ve ever been to New York City, you have more than likely walked past the New York Public Library with it’s giant stone lions and big staircase. The Library frequently holds live conversations/interviews with authors. Don’t sleep on this one. If you just take a look at the favorites listed below, you know they aren’t playing around. Jay Z? Come on, that’s awesome.
Favorite episodes: Neil Gaiman on Fairy Tales, Jay Z, Damien Echols on Hope and Death Row, Sarah Lewis on Failure, Ann Patchett and Elizabeth Gilbert

Gravy – Short bursts of southern story telling. A lot about food.
Favorites episodes: Wanting the Bourbon You Can’t Have, Bill Smith Turns Up the Volume, A Charleston Feast for Reconciliation

TED Radio Hour – Quickly becoming a classic. This podcast takes the best parts of TED Talks on a particular subject, reinterviews the speaker, and goes a little deeper on the topic at hand. It’s a great way to get the best parts of TED Talks without burning through hours yourself.
Favorite episodes: Making Mistakes, What is Beauty, Unstoppable Learning, Framing the Story, Overcoming, Disruptive Leadership, Brand Over Brain

The Liturgist Podcast – I’ve only listened to one episode of this podcast and it was a doosey. The episode was challenging in a million ways. A million ways. I don’t agree with everything these guys talk through, but I can’t stop thinking about it.
Favorite episode: Black and White: Racism in American

Happy listening, friends! And if you love any of these episodes, let me know!

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