Demystify podcasts
November 9, 2011 1:37 PM   Subscribe

I have a long (11 hour each way) drive coming up (NY to NC) next week. I am a pretty seasoned distance driver (many two-day TX to Toronto drives), but I am going by myself (with 2 dogs) and I need something to keep me sane and awake. I would love to have some This American Life or CarTalk or the like podcasts to listen to but...while I am nothing like a tech/net n00b, I confess that I don't really know how this podcast thing works to get past episodes. Please hope me!

I have an iPod Nano and a Droid X smartphone. I would also appreciate suggestions for audiobooks (funny, thriller, mystery, scifi, British a plus - PTerry and Harry Potter are already planned for) although there have been several great threads about those that I am mining.

TL:DR version: help me figure out how podcasts would best work with the equipment I have, especially for "back issues," and suggest what I might like to listen to. Go!
posted by biscotti to Technology (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Past episodes aren't always available for free. TAL, for example, only gives away the current episode, and sells other episodes. Car talk has two episodes up. Some other shows have extensive libraries up for free.

It's best if you can listen through your car's speakers rather than headphones. Does your car have an input jack?
posted by jon1270 at 1:50 PM on November 9, 2011

I use Google Listen on my Droid X for podcasts. It's pretty straightforward, both for keeping up with current episodes and adding past episodes. (Search to find one episode of the podcast of interest, then just click "subscribe" or "more episodes" respectively.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:50 PM on November 9, 2011

TAL, for example, only gives away the current episode, and sells other episodes. Car talk has two episodes up.

I appear to have access to a large number of TAL and Car Talk episodes via Google Listen.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:54 PM on November 9, 2011

On the Droid, the (bar-none) best podcast tool is BeyondPod.
posted by ellF at 2:00 PM on November 9, 2011

As to an audiobook suggestion, when I used to drive a lot, I finished off the entire Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series on audio. There's a version narrated by the author, Douglas Adams, and there's a version narrated by Stephen Fry. Both versions are very well done and you won't go wrong with either. It's funny, sometimes thrilling, sometimes mysterious, and very scifi-y, as well as very very British.
posted by Geppp at 2:15 PM on November 9, 2011

Another audiobook suggestion: John Hodgman's The Areas of My Expertise and More Information Than You Require. They are amusing enough to be engaging, but stray from plot so there is little need to be deeply attentive.
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 2:52 PM on November 9, 2011

Plenty of free things here.
posted by timsteil at 3:33 PM on November 9, 2011

If you add TAL or CarTalk or whatever to iTunes, you can access tons of episodes. TONS. Go to the iTunes Store, click on podcasts, figure out what you like and subscribe. You may have to click "Get All" when it shows up in your iTunes library. Then drag them onto your iPod or phone.

I especially like Marc Maron's WTF, How Stuff Works: Things you missed in history class, Fresh Air, and lots of the free lectures from universities (on whatever subject you like).
posted by mrfuga0 at 3:44 PM on November 9, 2011

Check out iTunes U, where college-level lectures can be found on a number of topics. It is often possible to download 8 or 10 or 12 hours worth of stuff.
posted by megatherium at 3:55 PM on November 9, 2011

If you like TAL you might like Radiolab - lots of back episodes available on iTunes. It's like TAL, but mostly about science.
posted by mskyle at 4:46 PM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

If your car doesn't have an input jack for an ipod/phone, you can burn podcasts to CDs and listen that way.
posted by kbuxton at 4:49 PM on November 9, 2011

I use Stitcher on iPhone. It's got every NPR and podcast I've ever looked for, which, admittedly, is not as many as I know many would look for.
posted by cmoj at 6:09 PM on November 9, 2011

I'm going to 2nd the WTF podcast; he typically interviews people in the comedy industry, and i'm not really familiar with most of the people they interview, but Maron is a really, really good interviewer, and the podcasts are all VERY funny. There are quite a few older podcasts available in their back catalog on iTunes.

I just started listening a week or two ago, and I've been garnering some dirty looks on my morning bus commute for laughing. It's a pretty solid podcast to focus on.
posted by furnace.heart at 9:25 PM on November 9, 2011

If you have time befoire you leave, get some audiobooks narrated by Jim Dale out of the library and rip them to MP3s. Dale does a zillion voices, and has narrated the full run of Harry Potter books (which you mention -- but seek out his other work). He's great fun to listen to.

Also, the Bugle podcast is pretty awesome, but can get dated quickly - as can "Hang Up And Listen, The Slate Sports podcast" (though i love those guys).

Consider some of "The Incomparable" podcast episodes, especially their "TV draft" episode from a few weeks ago. I'm pretty sure it's my favorite podcast right now.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:00 AM on November 10, 2011

Freakonomics is a great podcast. 2nd-ing Stitcher to keep you occupied. I've found great podcasts while bored on long drives.
posted by slogger at 9:39 AM on November 10, 2011

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