A great podcast has to be the best way to ensure a long commute is an enjoyable enterprise.

My regular commute often totals around three hours (there and back again*) so it’s in my own interest to fill those hours with interesting company.

If I were involved in longer drives I might consider an audio book but for the commute to work a podcast or two fills the gap just nicely.

My favourite podcasts currently include:

  • Chat 10, Looks 3.  “Think of it as time well wasted.”  Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales chat for half an hour at a time about everything and nothing.  What they’ve read, seen and talked about in the previous week or so.  It’s hilarious, interesting and even occasionally informative.  I am totally addicted.  Annabel and Leigh (I feel I know them well enough now to call them by their first names) produce an episode every week or two but there’s no need to listen in numerical order.
  • Conversations with Richard Fidler.    “Stories from scientists, carers, musicians and philosophers; from boxers, prisoners, princes and prime ministers. Some strange, some sombre, some funny; some mind-bending and many, unforgettable.”  Richard Fidler is an interviewer par excellence.  For an hour at a time he gently coaxes extraordinary stories from ordinary (and extraordinary) people.  He regularly speaks with well-known people but often the best stories are from the people you have never heard of.
  • A History of the World in 100 Objects.  “Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, narrates 100 programmes that retell humanity’s history through the objects we have made.”  This is not new but oh my goodness is it good. MacGregor chooses a single object and uses it as a starting point for exploring the era and the relevant issues.  A 5000 year old pestle, for example, sparks a conversation about ancient cookery techniques.  MacGregor is great but he also includes grabs from interesting people – for the pestle he talks to a chef; for an ancient stone axe he talks to David Attenborough; for a beautiful Greek artefact he speaks with a sculptor.  Each episode only lasts 15 minutes and for this one it is best to listen in order as we are taken, object by object, from the ancient world up to the modern-day.
  • Various Writers Festivals (Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide).  As much as I’d love to find time to attend in person, knowing I can skip the festival and later listen – one at a time – to the author interviews and panel sessions is a big bonus.  All the fun of the fair and none of the risk of being Mark Lathamed!

In the course of my extensive (cough cough) research for this post, I found this lovely list from The Melbourne Writers Festival: 10 Great Storytelling and Literary Podcasts for Your Daily Commute.

So what’s your favourite podcast?

*Hands up who caught the Tolkien reference?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Sigh.