Podcast studio

Photo of podcast studio.

Covering a four-county area means I do quite a bit of driving every week.

When I’m covering a story in towns at the edges of N’West Iowa — such as Inwood or Sutherland — the drives can get pretty long.

Instead of viewing long drives as an annoyance, however, I view them as a perfect opportunity for one of my favorite pastimes: Listening to podcasts.

Below are four of my favorite podcasts and why I enjoy them so much:

"Welcome to Night Vale"

Welcome to Night Vale podcast

This was actually the first podcast I ever started listening to at the recommendation of my girlfriend. It’s a fun, lighthearted show that often pokes fun at everyday life.

The show follows the format of a nightly radio news broadcast and is hosted by Cecil Baldwin. Baldwin narrates the show in character as Cecil Palmer, a radio host who diligently covers all the strange, spooky and otherworldly happenings that take place in the fictional desert town of Night Vale.

Night Vale is unlike any other town in the country: It’s a place where five-headed dragons can run for mayor, a secret police force monitors residents’ activities 24/7 and librarians are zombielike creatures who jealously guard their books.

After listening to a few episodes — most of which only last 20-30 minutes — you’ll soon feel right at home in Night Vale.

"What a Day"

What a Day podcast

Comedian Akilah Hughes and journalist Gideon Resnick host this podcast, which releases episodes every weekday.

The duo uses humor to break down the biggest news stories in the country — all in about 20 minutes or less.

What I like about this podcast since it’s informative yet written and produced in a way that makes large, complex topics easier to digest. Hughes and Resnick are also able to balance their humor with the gravity of the topics they talk about.

This podcast was only launched last month, but it has already become my go-to show to turn on while I’m making my coffee in the morning.

"And That’s Why We Drink"

And That's Why We Drink podcast

Imagine two people who went to graduate school together in Washington, D.C., but actually met each other after moving to Los Angeles.

There, they became best friends after bonding over their shared love of paranormal and true crime. A few months later, they started a weekly podcast where they swap stories about ghosts and murder.

That’s basically the premise of “And That’s Why We Drink.”

Hosts Christine Schiefer and Em Schulz share tales of paranormal phenomena and gruesome cases of real-life crime, all while injecting hilarious banter into their storytelling.

The name of the show comes from the fact that the hosts indulge in a drink during each episode: Schiefer has a glass of wine or other alcoholic beverages, while Schulz opts for a nonalcoholic drink such as a milkshake.

As the show’s description says: “The world’s a scary place. And that’s why we drink!”

"Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet"

Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet podcast

Admit it: We’ve all experienced bad customer service at a store or restaurant and have felt the urge to vent our frustration by giving the business a one-star review online.

However, the hosts of “Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet” choose to view such reviews through the lens of humor.

In this podcast, Christine Schiefer (the same co-host of “And That’s Why We Drink”) teams up with her younger brother, Alex, to dramatically read bad reviews of various businesses to show just how absurd some customer complaints can be.

As I'm driving down to Grinnell this week for Thanksgiving, you can be sure I'll have a podcast playing in my car the whole way there and back.