Life in Baltimore marks the shortest commute I’ve had in a long time. In the past few years, my “commute” (to work, or school when I was at College Park) has gone from about 45 minutes of walking/public transit to 45 minutes of driving to 30 minutes of driving (but on the Beltway so hard to predict) to about 20 minutes. What’s gotten me through all those hours of driving, plus any number of road trips in between, have been podcasts.* I have fairly boring taste in music, so I don’t really have the supply of new music needed to get me through all those hours. I listen to podcasts on a lot of different topics, and I really love podcasts that are in the 20-30 minute range, since I don’t have to break them up over 2-3 outings.

Some favorites:

Filmspotting. I do have a weakness for Chicago based or affiliated podcasts, of which Filmspotting is one. They do weekly movie reviews and top five thematic lists (heist movies, relic movies, etc.) as well as multi-week studies of particular directors or genres (70s scifi, documentaries). I especially like that the podcast timelines that come with the download, so I can focus on reviews of films I’m interested in and not listen to the whole hourlong podcast. Weekly from WBEZ Chicago.

Planet Money. I started listening to this NPR offering because of my sister’s recommendation. It’s 20-odd minute podcast on financial topics, ranging from the breakdown of the Euro zone to investments. There’s a rotating cast of hosts, plus some topics that are covered in multi-episode storylines. Twice weekly plus segments on other series.

Radiolab. Science, music, culture. Oliver Sachs is a frequent guest, and they did a whole episode on Zoe Keating. This podcast is hard to describe because of the range of topics covered, but if you like it, you probably love it. Sporadically (the schedule is unpredictable) from WNYC.

These are, of course, in addition to widely popular standbys like Fresh Air and Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me!, which you should check out.

*A note on audiobooks: I’ve never gotten into them. They usually put me to sleep, except for the Jim Dale Harry Potter books, where his interpretation of Hermione’s voice I find so irritating and disappointing I become irate.