Fun fact: The average Maryland to DC commute is the second longest in the US, right after New York. I should know. Mine will be 90+ minutes, come July 1st. Last week, while I was finishing paperwork at my new employer’s Bethesda offices, the looks people gave me went from incredulity to pity on seeing the Baltimore address on my driver’s license and hearing my explanation that no, since my wife is still at Sinai and usually just walks to work, we won’t move. It’s better for me to take one for the team, I’d say, than have both of us suffer hellish beltway traffic from some midway point.
I could write an essay on how taking one for the team is not entirely true, but the title of this post says “podcast”, and it’s already the second paragraph, so here is my point: My commute will be long. I will need to fill that time with something. Sometimes, that will be strangers talking into my ear about things I don’t understand. Here is my list of strangers, carefully curated after ten years of listening.
Monday: Mac Power Users
Comes out every Monday morning, like clockwork. Great for learning about new hardware, productivity apps, etc. but podcasts are not the best medium for going into the minutia of somebody’s workflow.
Tuesday: Back to Work
Go read this. Having Merlin Mann talk for an hour all by himself would be good enough, but Dan Benjamin—the other half of BTW—is the best podcast host in the business. By using a simple formula, it is easy to mathematically prove that their show is the best podcast ever created.
The first 30 or so minutes are laden with inside jokes and obscure references, but even that is fun after you are several episodes in.
Wednesday: Wait, wait…
It airs each Saturday, but I like alliteration, and there is nothing else good on Wednesdays. I was in Chicago once while it was being taped, but was too late to get a ticket. Now that Carl Kasell is retiring, it’s unlikely I’ll ever be at a live show. So it goes…
Thursday: The Talk Show
Daring Fireball is a better blog than TTS is a podcast—John Gruber and some of his guests tend to ramble—but you can get good insights on baseball and bourbon.
One word: Siracusa. There are two other co-hosts, whose main job is not to screw up too badly. They do it well.
Saturday: The Alton Browncast
The John Siracusa-slash-Bret Terpstra of food. Yes, Alton Brown is a national treasure.
The Sunday potpourri
This is the time for irregular shows, or ones that don’t always have something of interest. In order of preference:
- Radiolab • Fact: this is the best radio show ever created, and an even better podcast.
- The Incomparable • For geeks, by geeks. Or is it nerds?
- This American Life • Any co-production with Planet Money is a must-listen. Otherwise formulaic.
- Systematic • Hit-and-miss, though usually a hit.
- Technical Difficulties • A tech DYI show with show notes better than some books.
- CMD+Space • I only listen to it when an interesting guest is on, which is once every couple of months.
- The Pen Addict • A podcast about pens.
- JOP podcast • The only oncology podcast worth listening to; the medical podcast landscape is dreary.