These Are the 10 Best Podcasts to Binge on a Road Trip

Obviously Serial made the list

So many podcasts to choose from, so little time. Homecoming, Sandra, S-Town, Up and Vanished, Presidential, Serial

When you’re cruising down the highway with hours of driving ahead of you, it’s the perfect opportunity to pop on a podcast. There are now seemingly endless options when it comes to the popular form of media which allows you to delve into subjects like true crime, business, politics, pop culture, or even the sudden disappearance of one of the most iconic celebrities around.

Check out these 10 podcast series that are perfect for a road trip.

Serial

The first season of Serial, hosted by NPR vet Sarah Koenig earned a Peabody Award (the first podcast to do so) for its investigation into the 1999 murder of high school student Hae Min Lee and the eventual arrest of her classmate and ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed. The second season took a similar approach when it examined the case of U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban and later charged with desertion.

While the single-case focus has been a hit for Serial, Koenig is changing things up for Season 3 by instead taking on the entire criminal justice system. With unprecedented access to Cleveland’s courts, Koenig and reporter Emmanuel Dzotsi recorded inside courtrooms, judges’ chambers, back hallways and attorneys’ offices. What they discovered was a shocking legal process that very few outside of the system know about.

Number of episodes in each season: 11-12
Length of episodes: 40-60 minutes
Frequency: Weekly (all of Season 1 and 2 are currently available)

Presidential

Hosted by Lillian Cunningham and featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning historians such as David McCullough and journalists like Bob Woodward, the Washington Post first released Presidential’s 44 episodes leading up to Election Day 2016. Still as relevant now as it was then, the podcast explores the “character and legacy” of each of America’s presidents and also examines how the most powerful position in the country has changed since George Washington was first sworn into office.

Number of episodes in each season: 48
Length of episodes: 30-50 minutes
Frequency: Weekly (all episodes currently available)

Binge Mode: Game of Thrones and Binge Mode: Harry Potter

One of the most popular shows on air, Game of Thrones, was the initial focus of Binge Mode, a podcast that takes fans through every episode of the HBO series. While exploring the story’s history, characters and themes, the podcast also touches on possible theories.

Hosted by The Ringer’s Mallory Rubin and Jason Concepcion, Binge Mode wasn’t content to stick with one fictional world and launched a second series which breaks down J.K. Rowling’s epic Harry Potter books.

Number of episodes in each season: 10-40
Length of episodes: 30-40 minutes
Frequency: Daily-Weekly

Up and Vanished

Inspired by Serial, American director and documentary filmmaker Payne Lindsey set out in 2016 to investigate the disappearance of high school teacher and beauty queen Tara Grinstead, who vanished from her apartment in Ocilla, Ga., 12 years earlier.

“The largest case file in Georgia’s history” baffled police and eventually went cold. However season one of Up and Vanished resulted in an incredible outcome that will leave you eager for Season 2, which focuses on the 2016 disappearance of Kristal Reisinger in Crestone, Colo.

Number of episodes in each season: 24 plus bonus episodes
Length of episodes: 25-30 minutes
Frequency: Weekly

Mogul: The Life and Death of Chris Lighty

If you don’t immediately recognize his name, Chris Lighty was the co-founder of Violator, a record label and management/marketing company that represented top hip-hop artists like Nas, Ja Rule, Missy Elliott, L.L. Cool J and 50 Cent as well as Mariah Carey.

In Mogul: The Life and Death of Chris Lighty, from Gimlet Media and the Loud Speakers Network, listeners explore why The New York Times called Lightly “one of the most powerful figures in the hip-hop business” and credited him with helping “establish the genre as a major commercial force—complete with huge record deals and tie-ins with commercial brands—during its peak in the 1990s and early 2000s.” Lightly passed away in 2012 at just 44 years old, with investigators deeming his death a suicide.

Number of episodes in each season: 19
Length of episodes: 5-40 minutes
Frequency: Weekly-ish (all episodes currently available)

Missing Richard Simmons

In February 15, 2014, after 30 years in the spotlight and an iconic career that made him a household name, Richard Simmons disappeared. The legendary fitness guru stopped teaching his classes and cut off communication with his friends with no explanation, sparking concern over the celebrity’s well-being. Filmmaker and former Daily Show producer Dan Taberski set out to find out what happened to the man who had us sweatin’ to the oldies.

Number of episodes in each season: 8
Length of episodes: 30 minutes
Frequency: Weekly (all episodes currently available)

S-Town

Created by the producers of Serial and hosted by Brian Reed, the investigation explored in S-Town was launched when a man named John B. McLemore asked the team behind the podcast to look into an alleged crime in his hated hometown of Woodstock, Ala.

McLemore claimed that a local man had been bragging about getting away with murder. However, the story takes a drastic turn when McLemore commits suicide during the podcast’s production. The final episodes deal with the shocking turn of events and delves into the man’s life and motivation.

Number of episodes in each season: 7
Length of episodes: 60 minutes
Frequency: All episodes released at once

Making Oprah and Making Obama

Season 1 of the Making podcast is all about the iconic rise of Oprah Winfrey in the media industry, from a daytime talk show host to the leader of a TV revolution. Featuring interviews with producers, staff, TV executives, her former rival Phil Donahue and the queen herself, Making Oprah is an engaging look at the career of one of the most successful and influential people in the country.

Season 2 of the podcast moves into the political arena by focusing on the rise of Barack Obama. It features interviews with the president as well as key advisers, mentors and political figures who explore the 44th president’s path to the White House.

Number of episodes in each season: 6-7 (including bonus episodes)
Length of episodes: 60 minutes (Bonus episodes: 15-20 minutes)
Frequency: Weekly

Sandra

Leave reality behind for a few hours and indulge in Sandra, a fictional story from director Sebastian Silva and writers Kevin Moffett and Matthew Derby. Kristen Wiig, Ethan Hawke, and Arrested Development’s Alia Shawkat voice characters in this story of a tech company employee who discovers the truth “behind the curtains” of a digital voice assistant service.

Number of episodes in each season: 9
Length of episodes: 20-30 minutes
Frequency: All episodes released at once

Homecoming

Homecoming is a psychological thriller telling the fictional story of Heidi, played by Catherine Keener, a case worker at a mysterious government facility who is assigned to treat a soldier with severe PTSD. However, she begins to suspect that there’s an ulterior motive behind her facility’s treatment program.

The podcast has become so popular, it’s inspired a web series from Amazon starring Julia Roberts, Stephan James, Bobby Cannavale, Shea Whigham and Alex Karpovsky.

Number of episodes in each season: 12
Length of episodes: 20-45 minutes
Frequency: Weekly (all episodes currently available)


Desirée O is a freelance arts, entertainment and lifestyle writer.