On the Road Again

I headed south this weekend to Charleston to visit my youngest sister. She’s a senior at the College of Charleston. The CD player in my car is broken which means I’m confined to cassette tapes and the radio on long car trips. This usually isn’t a problem, but on the trip down there was NOTHING on and I was sick of my tapes. It’s NPR fund drive time. I love NPR but I really wish there was a way they could switch off the fund-raising driving once you pledge.

Driven to desperation by radio preachers and entreaties for matching pledge gifts, I stopped in Florence, SC and bought a $10 cassette adapter for my iPhone. I hadn’t loaded any music on my phone yet and the reception wasn’t good enough to reliably stream from the NPR iPhone app. However, while I was in Charleston, I uploaded some music from my computer, a This American Life podcast, and a couple New Yorker fiction podcasts. I tend to get distracted or bored by books on tape, even funny or exciting books. I do enjoy short stories on tape, so I was excited to find the New Yorker podcast. What was especially great about the New Yorker podcast was that it included some conversation with the reader (who is also an author of a New Yorker short story) and the magazine’s fiction editor. It was serious conversation about the story, but nothing like the kind of frustrating class discussions we had in college that made me want to hurl my Norton Anthology through the window. I listened to Tobias Wolff read a Stephanie Vaughan story about children growing up on an army base called “Dog Heaven.” I also listened to Joyce Carol Oates, read a Eudora Welty story, “Where Is the Voice Coming From?” which she wrote the night Medgar Evers was killed. Listening to the short stories made the drive feel both relaxing and productive which are two words I never imagined myself applying to time spent on I-95.

Are there podcasts you enjoy listening to?

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2 thoughts on “On the Road Again

  1. We used to drive through Florence all the time on our way from Southport, NC (where I used to live) to GA.

    I have an older car (1999), and it doesn’t have the iPod adapter either, so I got a cassette adapter, too. I listen to podcasts in the car.

    My favorite is In Our Time, which I think I first heard about from Kathleen Jensen (@readinator). It’s a BBC podcast: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/inourtime/.

    I am also a fan of This American Life. NPR has an infrequently updated podcast called In Character that’s pretty good, too. World Book Club gets some really famous authors to discuss their work. I loved the Alice Walker program. Grammar Girl is great.

    Thanks for pointing me toward the New Yorker podcasts. I didn’t know about them.

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