Things To Do On Vacation: Podcasts

Week One: Things That Work In Airplane Mode

Did you know that a giant pair of padded headphones is a great way to keep that yahoo next to you on the bus from trying to tell you all about your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to invest in his perpetual motion machine? Plus they keep your ears warm when the heat breaks down.

If an eight-hour audiobook is too much for you to keep track of while you travel through three consecutive time zones, maybe podcasts are more your style. My personal podcast list runs heavily towards true crime and brain toys. Here are some of my favorites:

Radiolab from WNYC
Webpage | Apple Podcasts | Google PlayRSS feed

Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich spend fifteen years of their lives investigating pretty much anything that's caught their attention. Topics range from hard science to human interest stories, and usually take a turn for the weird somewhere along the way.

Reply All from Gimlet Media
Webpage | Apple Podcasts | Google Play | RSS feed

Reply All is a podcast by the internet, for the internet, about the internet. Recurring segments include "Super Tech Support," where they try to solve some of the most bizarre and baffling technical issues ever uncovered by man, and "Yes Yes No," where the two of them who keep track of social media attempt to unpack obscure Twitter jokes for the one who doesn't.

Thinking Sideways
Webpage | Apple Podcasts | Google Play | RSS feed

The TS gang have recently ended production on the podcast, which is sad. But on the bright side, this means there's an end to the archive, and now you can literally binge the whole thing. Thinking Sideways covers true crime, unexplained disappearances, purported psychic phenomena and OOPArts, and always allows for the possibility that a chupacabra did it.

Lexicon Valley from Slate Magazine
Webpage | Apple Podcasts | Google Play | RSS feed

Roam up and down the hills and dales of English (with help from other languages) with John McWhorter, who hops on the mic weekly and rambles for somewhere between 30-60 minutes about this crazy language we all speak.

Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine from Maximum Fun
Webpage | Apple Podcasts | Google Play | RSS feed

Join Sydnee McElroy (MD) and her husband Justin McElroy (professional idiot) as they regale you with tales of the weirdest, deadliest, most nonsensical things "modern" medicine has ever believed. It's a wonderful combination of humor, history, and that :gonk: smiley the Something Awful Forums used to have. Justin also hosts a number of other podcasts, including My Brother, My Brother, & Me, a show in which the McElroy brothers take questions from listeners and issue advice that no one should ever follow.

This American Life from National Public Radio
Webpage | Apple Podcasts | Google Play | RSS feed

The eternal staple from NPR. Hosted by the inimitable Ira Glass, TAL follows individuals through one or more themed stories per episode, giving an overview of some aspect of life in American culture through the eyes of one living it. Ranges from hilarious and absurd to profoundly depressing; I'd check the episode description if you want to avoid the sad/political ones.

Welcome To Night Vale from Commonplace Books / Night Vale Presents
Webpage | Apple Podcasts | Google Play | RSS feed

I'm pretty sure it's illegal to publish a list of good podcasts without putting Welcome To Night Vale on it. Join Cecil, host of Night Vale Community Radio, as he gives us news and observations about his completely ordinary and not at all bizarre home town of Night Vale. WTNV got a lot of attention from LGBT+ groups at one point because Cecil has a crush on the scientist Carlos that is so big it can be seen from space, and actually gets to do something about it. Inasmuch as both Cecil and Carlos are (probably) human (so far as we know), Night Vale does not think this is even remotely unusual, and literally nothing else is said about it at any point.

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