I’ve switched jobs within my company and now “enjoy” a three hour commute to Cambridge and back a couple of days a week. The drive is a pain in the butt, quite literally. Enough so that I’ve swapped my Audi A4, with its cool but lower-back-straining bucket seats, for a Prius, which has much more comfortable, elevated seats.
One of the advantages of the commute, though, is getting time to listen. I used to commute into central London pretty regularly in a previous life, and I’ve always missed just being able to sit and consume media, in text or audio form, with no other distraction and nothing that “needs doing”. And I’m not the kind of person that can listen to a lot of unfamiliar noise, particularly radio chat, when I’m checking e-mail or doing anything at work that requires any concentration.
I’ve filled this listening time with podcasts. I’ve found that the list of shows that I listen to regularly are primarily broadcast weekly. I can’t keep up with new daily shows and I hate missing any. Here are my favorites:
Penny Arcade is most well known for their comics, but for a few weeks they got into podcasting. These have pretty much dried up now, but while they lasted they were pretty hysterical if you’re into gaming. “Gabe” and “Tycho’s” goal was pretty ambitious, though, so maybe it was bound to be difficult to keep going. Their goal was to sit down at the beginning of an hour long session, go through recent gaming news and then map out a full idea for a 3 panel comic that they’d do in the next few days. Great to hear the creative process at work.
The BBC1 Newsnight
podcast is a bit of an anomaly, since Newsnight is actually a TV show, but this is an audio cast only. It works well, though, and I don’t find myself missing the moving pictures. It’s also great Monday morning listening that lets me catch up with some of the previous week’s news with a bit of depth.
The Chequered Flag is a show about Formula One racing from BBC Radio 5 that does a post-mortem straight after a race. This podcast is another great Monday morning listen, since the races happen on Sunday. Provided I’ve actually had time to watch the race. Otherwise it’s a bit of a spoiler.
The Now Show is a topical comedy show from Radio 4. I find it about 60% hit and 40% miss, which is actually quite good for this kind of thing. It’s mostly based on UK news and politics, so it may be about 5% hit and 95% miss if you’re from “overseas”. Their podcast is here in iTunes.
Morning Becomes Eclectic is a pretty huge show on the West coast of the US. Hosted by Nic Harcourt from LA it gets in some great new bands. Good way of getting to new music, as is KEXP’s Music That Matters show, from Seattle.