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We’re headed to Perth this week — fuck it, the weather’s great! — to visit somewhere we’ve always dreamed of going: The Pinnacles, where limestone formations rise up out of the red sand like some strange alien home-world. Road-trips are great, but the question of what to listen to when there are five people in the car with eclectic tastes can be a real P in the A. (Recommended: next time its someone else’s turn to pick a song, choose Meatloaf’s ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ as your ‘one last song’, cause it’s [A] one of the greatest sing-along-songs of all time and everyone will slap you on the back for putting them in such a great mood, and [B] the song that never ends, guaranteed to give you 8 minutes and 11 seconds of reprieve before one of your more basic friends puts Katy Perry or something on.) Anyway, last time we went on a little road-trip from Sydney to Cairns we tried listening to podcasts instead — it’s actually a genius way to pass the time, and since we listened to the addictive seven episode true-crime serial S-Town, we all sort of felt like we were on a whole other journey together. We laughed, we cried, we bonded. In preparation for your next long drive, here’s some of our favourite podcasts of 2017 to pass the time.

1. S-Town

By far the greatest podcast of 2017 (fight us if you disagree) is the non-fiction southern Gothic S-Town, short for Shit Town. The official synopsis reads, “John despises his Alabama Town and decides to do something about it. He asks a reporter to investigate the son of a wealthy family who’s allegedly been bragging that he got away with murder. But then someone else ends up dead, sparking a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure, and an unearthing of the mysteries of one man’s life.” What follows is one of the most remarkable stories in modern history, due mostly to the incredible story-telling skills of the team that brought you This American Life. The seven-chapter podcast is a combination of narration and recorded conversations with the real inhabitants of ‘Shit Town’, as an intrepid reporter seeks to uncover the sordid details of an epic story covering murder, repressed sexuality, genius and mental illness, a hedge-maze, buried treasure, and even global warming... Seriously, S-Town had us and all our mates going from laughing out loud to balling our eyes out within the space of a few episodes on a road trip to the Sunshine Coast earlier this year. Not to be missed!

2. Four Finger Discount

Who doesn’t miss the golden days of The Simpsons? The new episodes may be a bit hit and miss but the glorious first dozen seasons are burned into the memories of pretty much everyone we know. Relive them with Four Finger Discount — a quest to discuss and dissect every episode of The Simpsons, one by one. The only thing better than watching Grandpa scream “Mrs Bouvieeeeer!”? Listening to these guys talk about it. Also, while we’re here, check out one of our favourite IG accounts @scenic_simpsons, which chronicles all of The Simpsons’ most beautifully composed scenes. 

3. The Daily

Looking for a conversation starter? The New York Times’ The Daily podcasts is guaranteed to get your tongues waggin’. It’s a daily 20-minute update on the news of the day hosted by reporter Michael Barbaro, who’s becoming something of a radio personality as each week viewers note that he’s letting down his guard and letting loose with commentary and personal anecdotes. It’s a quick, clever and entertaining way to feel up-to-date (and sound semi-smart in conversation).

4. Missing Richard Simmons

Okay, full disclosure — we haven’t listened to this one yet, but Missing Richard Simmons is on our list to listen to next. While recent news pieces have made this podcast irrelevant — Richard and his family have spoken out about where he’s been — this podcast (made by Filmmaker Dan Taberski, a friend of the reclusive fitness guru) investigates why Simmons disappeared from the public eye in 2014. It’s morally dubious (Taberski essentially hounds friends and acquaintances of Mr Simmons for answers, despite the star having declined from participating in the podcasts) but by all reports an utterly fascinating investigation of the celebrity’s life (and our own obsession with celebrity).

5. Making Oprah

Making Oprah is the inside story on how the world’s most famous talk show host (or person, full stop!) rose up from her self-described “scrappy roots” in Chicago, created one of the biggest television shows of its time, and became one of the most influential public figures of all time. It’s told by Oprah and her staff themselves, and is hosted by anchor Jenn White. Legendary!

6. Ctrl, Alt, Delete

Your host Emma Gannon talks to an amazing array of all-female personalities (including your favs Lena Dunham and Tavi Gevinson) about growing up online and how social media and the internet has shaped their lives. Hashtag relevant!

7. Food4Thot

The podcast that promises “insight on hypoallergenic lubes” and “daddy issues”, Food 4 Thot is a fun and hilarious look at sex, relationships, race, and all of the other fascinating things that define our human experiences. It’s conversational and easy to listen to, and with episodes focusing on a range of very relatable topics (like “post-Taco Bell coitus”) it’s bloody handy and informative, too.

Article written by Zac Bayly

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August 01, 2017