14 podcasts perfect for summer road trips

Get the lowdown on the Golden Age of Hollywood from Karina Longworth as you motor along Route 66.
Get the lowdown on the Golden Age of Hollywood from Karina Longworth as you motor along Route 66. TNS

Hitting the road this summer? Listening to road trip classics like “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Born to Run” on repeat will only get you so far.

Luckily, a podcast revolution is providing listeners with hours of stories, interviews and chats to while away the hours on America’s highways.

There are aural options in every flavor, whether you seek a one-off deep dive with a favorite celeb, saucy sex advice, a gripping true crime drama or a kid-friendly science lab.

“You Must Remember This”

Karina Longworth’s podcast explores Hollywood’s secret or forgotten histories.

Time commitment: There are 100 episodes; each averages 45 minutes.

Perfect road trip: Down the California coast, where dreams of fame feel within reach.

Kid-friendly: Yes.

Best bits: Grace Kelly marries a prince. Marilyn Monroe dies alone. Dorothy Stratton is stalked and murdered. A treasure trove for cinephiles.

“The Black Tapes”

Host Alex Reagan embarks on an NPR-style serial investigation into a file of fictional paranormal unsolved mysteries.

Time commitment: This serial has two dozen 45-minute episodes.

Perfect road trip: The Pacific Northwest, home of “Twilight,” would make a fitting backdrop for this moody ghost story.

Kid-friendly: If they don’t scare easily.

Best bits: Although you could drop in at any point, you should at least listen to the first episode to get the back story.

“My Favorite Murder”

An L.A.-based comedian and television host tell each other stories of gruesome murders and true crime.

Time commitment: About 40 minutes for a “minisode” and up to 2 hours for a full episode.

Perfect road trip: When the drive ends at lodging with locked doors.

Kid-friendly: No.

Best bits: The episodes begin with light personal banter, but be sure to stick around for the crime-telling portion.

“Two Dope Queens”

Two fly ladies talk race, sex, love and big-city weirdness, for people who spend a lot of time on Twitter.

Time commitment: Episodes are 40 to 60 minutes.

Perfect road trip: A solo trip when you’re missing your sassy, hilarious friend.

Kid-friendly: No.

Best bits: Hosts Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams riff off each other and special guests.

“Still Processing”

New York Times culture reporters and friends Jenna Wortham and Pulitzer Prize-winner Wesley Morris take on an issue a week.

Time commitment: Weekly; 40-minutes to an hour.

Perfect road trip: The friendly banter will liven up the flattest parts of the Midwest.

Kid-friendly: Teens who are tapped in to culture would love this.

Best bits: Most episodes draw on pop culture through the lens of race, sexuality and current events, such as episodes on what “Wonder Woman” means for women in Hollywood.

“In the Dark”

American Public Media Reports and reporter Madeleine Baran reveal how law enforcement handled the kidnapping of Jacob Wetterling.

Time commitment: There are nine episodes – plus an update – that range from 35 to 48 minutes.

Perfect road trip: A destination at least three hours away, because the series is addictive.

Kid friendly: Not for younger children.

Best bits: Episode 5, “Person of Interest” explores the consequences that the abduction investigation had on local music teacher Dan Rassier.

“Savage Lovecast”

Longtime columnist Dan Savage offers his signature love, sex and relationship advice.

Time commitment: Choose between micro (48-minute) and magnum (82-minute) episodes.

Perfect road trip: Traffic jams and extended construction zones, when you need to save your brainpower for keeping the car on the road.

Kid-friendly: Absolutely not. Also not appropriate if you’re with the in-laws.

Best bits: Each bit starts with a question. Part of the fun is trying to decide whether it’s real.

“The Bill Simmons Podcast”

Hosted by popular sportswriter Bill Simmons and produced by Simmons’ The Ringer Podcast Network, this is a talk show examining the world of sports and pop culture. It is said to be the most downloaded sports podcast of all time.

Time commitment: There are more than 200 episodes, each running an hour to two hours.

Perfect road trip: A summer tour of baseball parks.

Kid-friendly? If you’re OK with swearing.

Best bits: Simmons’ deep knowledge of sports shines through as he expertly dissects the latest sports news.

“Making Oprah”

A behind-the-scenes look at the making of “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” the highest-rated daytime talk show in history.

Time commitment: Three hour-plus episodes, plus three bonus installments.

Perfect road trip: To or through Chicago, where the Queen of Daytime TV got her start.

Kid-friendly: Yes, but younger kids might get bored.

Best bits: Admit it; who can forget Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah’s sofa?

“74 Seconds”

MPR reporters Riham Feshir and Jon Collins host this podcast on the fatal shooting of Philando Castile and the subsequent trial of police officer Jeronimo Yanez.

Time commitment: Some episodes are only 5 minutes long while others approach half an hour.

Perfect road trip: Boring stretches of highway where you are in danger of nodding off; this will hold your attention.

Kid-friendly: No.

Best bits: Must-hear episodes include the early ones introducing the main characters. And though tough to listen to, the “Traffic Stop” episode is vital.


Fashionista and media wunderkind Tavi Gevinson, age 21, interviews a millennial-skewing array of celebrities.

Time commitment: Weekly; 45-minutes to an hour.

Perfect road trip: On the way to move your kids into their college dorms.

Kid-friendly: Junior high and up.

Best bits: Each episode features a different celeb; start with your favorite.

“Bad With Money”

Millennial writer, blogger and YouTuber Gabby Dunn explores how money has affected her life and others’ lives in good and bad ways.

Time commitment: Episodes vary between under 30 minutes to over an hour.

Perfect road trip: One on which you saved money by driving and not flying.

Kid-friendly: No.

Best bits: Don’t expect a 10-step guide to maximizing your financial potential. but you will discover that you’re not alone in your bad money habits.

“My Dad Wrote a Porno”

In this hilarious book club for grownups, Jamie Morton gets to know his author father better by publicly reading and discussing the erotica that Dad wrote.

Time commitment: It’s a serial with 40-minute episodes.

Perfect road trip: Somewhere hot and steamy.

Kid-friendly: Not even close.

Best bits: Tune in less for the continuing saga than for the cracked-up banter among the hosts.

“Brains On!”

Minnesota Public Radio produces this science podcast for kids, which touches on everything from the ions in slime to how elevators work.

Time commitment: 20- to 30-minute stand-alone episodes.

Perfect road trip: A drive to a national park.

Kid-friendly: Obviously.

Best bits: Ideal topics for traveling are the episodes that explore the science behind cars.