The Podfathers

Want to tell y’all about our strategy for not going FREAKING INSANE while on the road for 4,600 miles. I’m not sure this really qualifies as “simple living,” since it involves stuff like newfangled compact-disc technology.

So our little Toyota’s CD player plays MP3 files from a disc — a fact I frequently exploit by creating single discs with 15 or so new albums on them. But 9 hours of straight music a day is a little much for even a music fiend like me. So we supplemented by alternating through three wonderful podcasts, and I wanted to share a little of that love with our readers.

Anyone who’s seen made fun of my archaic, simpleton of a cellphone has heard the story about how I chose a $20 prepaid model to avoid a monthly bill. We ditched cable for the same reason. And it’s why I’ll fill discs with music and podcasts to avoid a satellite radio subscription.

We call it keeping the overhead low.

So anyway, about the podcasts: I’ve been a great fan of both The Memory Palace (a bite-sized history-based podcast) and 99% Invisible (ostensibly about “design,” though since design is everywhere, really it’s about anything) for a little while now. Both are extremely well written and produced. Both clock in around 5 minutes each, are free, and available from their own websites or from the iTunes store.

But when those started feeling manic, back-to-back with ever-changing topics, we changed to the hour-long Radiolab, which spans the gamut of science, social and otherwise. (Seriously. Curious about the terminal velocity of a cat? Want to hear about a woman who froze a light beam in place? Why is parting your hair on one side of your head better than another?) Hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich divide each ep into 20-minute segments, with musical interludes a’tween ’em. Those were absolutely perfect for the road.

So check all of these guys out — for your next road trip or just anytime you want a little thinkytime in the car, or the house, or even on the (hiss-hiss) smartphone.

And go friend Roman Mars’s 99% Invisible on Facebook. He gets giggly when people do that. And it’s fun to listen to him get like that.

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