Podcasts to banish your commuting doldrums

April 15, 2015 AJC senior legal affairs writer Bill Rankin (left) interviews former FBI agents Danny Sindall and John Insogna (right) for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's new podcast series, Breakdown, at Co3 Sound in Buckhead on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
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April 15, 2015 AJC senior legal affairs writer Bill Rankin (left) interviews former FBI agents Danny Sindall and John Insogna (right) for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's new podcast series, Breakdown, at Co3 Sound in Buckhead on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

I’ve recently discovered podcasts are great for providing drive-time entertainment. And who among this contingent of weary Atlanta commuters doesn’t need that?

After all, the average metro Atlanta commuter spends roughly 30 minutes traveling each way. And then there are the occasional road trips — hours upon hours spent with your hind-end glued to a seat. In the best cases, with the best podcasts, you actually feel smarter by the time you reach your destination.

April 15, 2015 AJC senior legal affairs writer Bill Rankin (left) interviews former FBI agents Danny Sindall and John Insogna (right) for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's new podcast series, Breakdown, at Co3 Sound in Buckhead on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

April 15, 2015 AJC senior legal affairs writer Bill Rankin (left) interviews former FBI agents Danny Sindall and John Insogna (right) for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s new podcast series, Breakdown, at Co3 Sound in Buckhead on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

I’m an avid reader, but I never caught the audio book bug. The narrator’s voice never sounded like the voice I ascribed to characters in my head. But podcasts — at least the ones I’m listening to — are more like on-demand radio or TV programming.

I’ve stumbled across some great podcasts since I started exploring and discussing them, but I’m hoping readers will open up and share more suggestions.

Here’s a list of my favorites so far:

  • Serial. Apparently, you’ve been living under a rock if you haven’t discovered Serial, which debuted in October 2014. I didn’t hear about it until a few months ago. An engaged couple that I know said they recently listened to the whole thing on a road trip. But they didn’t quite finish it on the actual road trip, so they sat in their car in the driveway, and then sat in their kitchen for several more hours until they were finished binge-listening to all of the episodes. Seriously, stop what you’re doing now and listen to Serial. It is THAT good.
  • Breakdown. This is a shameless plug for the AJC’s Breakdown podcast created by the amazing Bill Rankin, who has probably been a legal affairs reporter in this newsroom for longer than I’ve been drawing breath. It’s the story of “railroad justice in a railroad town,” raising questions about the state’s case against Justin Chapman. Chapman was accused of setting a fire in 2006 that killed an elderly woman who lived next door to his family in Bremen, Ga.
  • The Late Show with Steven Colbert. If you like Steven Colbert’s offbeat sense of humor, this podcast is for you.
  • Hardcore History. Saving the best for last. Love, love, love this podcast. If only high school and college history courses had been taught with the same level of passion and suspense. I first heard about Hardcore History from listening to Steven Colbert’s podcast. Colbert does a pretty spot-on voice impression of Dan Carlin, who’s the amateur historian and podcaster behind this series. Apparently Colbert and several of his staff members are big fans of it.

Don’t know what a podcast is? Most people listen to them on their smartphones. Here’s the Google search definition.

pod·cast (noun)  A digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or portable media player, typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically.

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