Call me weird, but I look at entertainment as an emotional investment. If something is going to be holding my mind, ears and/or eyeballs captive for any significant period of time, I need to feel like I can commit. This is probably the reason why I spend more time flipping through the movie options on an airplane than actually watching a movie.
As someone with a busy travel schedule, I spend hours in waiting rooms, on trains and on planes. All the while my mind is thirsty for entertainment and I’ve come to depend on podcasts to help me whittle down the hours until I reach my next destination. While there’s a part of me that loves short, low emotional investment podcasts (e.g. Stuff You Should Know), I still find myself checking the time on my phone every 15 minutes when I switch shows and this kind of defeats the purpose of trying to make life tick by faster.
That’s why I love the longform (1+ hour) podcast. When you find a good one, you’re engrossed, captivated and entertained while you blissfully sit unaware in a crowded room full of strangers on an uncomfortable metal chair. Having listened diligently to a variety of podcast over the past 4 years, I’ve come up with my top 3 list of long form podcasts to help you pass the time -
3. Alison Rosen in Your New Best Friend (ARYNBF)
I caught on to ARYNBF by way of the Adam Carolla Show, where she’s the resident news girl and the ying to Adam’s yang. Podcasting is an arena that is flooded with a sea of amateurs, many of which have hit it big. Alison, however, is a professional journalist with the credentials to back it up. In her show she interviews comedians, actors and other members of the media in a format that beckons her guests to open up and reveal personal stories, views and opinions. Her patience and willingness to share her own personal anecdotes draws out the best in her guests and her congenial nature makes her instantly likeable to the listener.
2. Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History
Dan Carlin calls himself an amateur historian, but his in depth multi-part podcasts on major historical events are more intriguing and informative than any lecture I got from my history professors in college. Even if you’re not a history buff, Dan’s story telling abilities will immediately rope you into his nonfiction tale. His podcasts detailing WWII’s eastern front single handedly altered my view of the Second World War and his “Wrath of the Khans” series is equally captivating.
1. This American Life
You can’t go wrong with This American Life. Ira Glass is a staple of public broadcasting and as an American expat, I appreciate how he brings stories from all around the nation to life. Some shows are funny (try listening to the episode on investigating whether pig bung holes are being masqueraded as calamari), while others are incredibly thought provoking and address some of the biggest societal issues America is facing today (try listening to Harper Valley High School, which tackles the issue of gun violence in schools or Trends with Benefits, which investigates issues with the nation’s disability benefits system).