You’ve heard of “Netflix and chill”—a phrase that connotes staying at home on Saturday nights with a cuddly someone and bingeing episode after episode of The Staircase, or Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, or whatever else it is you’re bingeing these days.
But have you heard of “podcast and drive”? No?
Well, that’s because it’s a simple new phrase we’re trying out—one that connotes you and your road-tripping companions on a particularly mundane stretch of Midwestern cornfields, engrossed in some form of audio storytelling, hanging on every word, minds wandering (yet focused on the road ahead). And it’s something we’re putting to the test with these seven, highly bingeable new podcasts.
Download them wisely.
For true crime fanatics who still aren’t over Serial: In the Dark
The first season of American Public Media’s In the Dark investigated the circumstances that led to the murder of an 11-year-old boy in 1989, and the reverberations in the law enforcement community. The second season tells the story of Curtis Flowers, a black man in Mississippi who has been tried by a white prosecutor six times for the same crime: a murder at a furniture store where he worked, which took place in 1996. But rather than asks interesting questions that are never answered—as with the NPR’s blockbuster, Serial—reporter Madeleine Baran and her crew use Flowers’s story to get at injustices within the criminal justice system in general, creating an entirely new, yet equally compelling, kind of true crime podcast in the process.
For political junkies: Slow Burn
Slate’s popular podcast takes listeners through what it was like to experience Watergate in real-time, with a pleasant mixture of television-style melodrama and edification. Everyone knows the story, but most people don’t really know it—or don’t remember. Host Leon Neyfakh reminds you of all the wacky details, both minor and major. It may provide context (and solace) during a time, like Watergate, where an investigation into the highest echelons of government is still underway, and will likely have incalculable repercussions on the country-at-large. And if it doesn’t, well...it will at least provide a few hours of good entertainment.
For country music intellectuals: Cocaine & Rhinestones
Written and hosted by Tyler Mahan Coe—the son of country artist David Allan Coe—this singular podcast is a poignant deep dive into 20th century American country music: its mythos; its mysteries; and its reflection of and ramifications on the culture-at-large. It’s the perfect companion to an all-American road trip—particularly when half your car loves country music and half your car hates it.
For Harry Potter diehards: Binge Mode: Harry Potter
Most well-known for their insanely thorough Game of Thrones podcast series, The Ringer’s Jason Concepcion and Mallory Rubin’s latest obsession is an oldie but a goodie: Harry Potter. The duo spends an inordinate amount of time discussing the books, the movies and the extended HP universe, with sharp wit and an overwhelming knowledge of the topic at hand. As of this writing, they’re only through the first book and movie (plus, a Quidditch special)—and there’s already over six hours worth of content. Fans of Harry Potter never really want to leave the world of the books; with this podcast, they never really have to—even while they’re driving in the car.
For Marvel stans: Wolverine: The Long Night
This is the first scripted podcast from Marvel—we should probably expect more in the future—and it’s about none other than your favorite mutant human-wolf-Hugh-Jackman-guy, Wolverine. This story takes place in Burns, Alaska, where special agents are investigating a string of mysterious deaths, as they're wont to do.
For the casual ESPN viewer: Origins, with James Andrew Miller
The king of the oral history, James Andrew Miller, adapted his best-selling oral history of ESPN to a podcast, which features interviews with everyone from Jemele Hill to Bill Simmons. If Larry David’s antics are more your thing, you can check out the first season of the podcast—an oral history of Curb Your Enthusiasm.
For classic high school movie fans: Hampton High
This charming character-based improv podcast centers around a fictional high school student who starts a podcast to interview his teachers and peers, including “Eugene the Academic” and “Mitra the Theater Kid.” It’s a podcast that rewards binge-listening, as the aggregate of individual interviews amount to a complex, funny, three-dimensional fictional world.