Forget The Tunes, Take These Podcasts On The Open Road

'Serial,' the 2014 podcast from the creators of 'This American Life' that catapulted the podcast format. Casey Fiesler / Flickr
'Serial,' the 2014 podcast from the creators of 'This American Life' that catapulted the podcast format. Casey Fiesler / Flickr

Forget The Tunes, Take These Podcasts On The Open Road

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Nick Quah, a former grad school student at the University of Chicago, said he used to listen to podcasts walking through Hyde Park.

Now, podcasts are his career. Quah writes the Hot Pod Newsletter, a trade publication about what’s happening in the podcast industry.

But what type of podcasts does Quah listen to now?

“I usually put it down to two buckets. On the one hand, I’m looking for a really good story, well-told,” Quah said Friday on Morning Shift. “And in the other bucket I just want to have a good time. And that could encompass things like talk shows or interview shows or a lot of comedy podcasts.”

Quah gave Morning Shift host Jenn White his listening suggestions for a summer road trip.


Nick Quah: It’s a podcast from Gimlet Media and Loudspeakers Network — two very, very good podcast companies — and it tells the story of a legendary hip-hop executive called Chris Lighty, who passed away in 2012. His story is a really interesting one. It’s really embeded. It’s very much the story of modern hip-hop.

‘Ear Hustle’

Quah: Ear Hustle is produced by two men who are currently in San Quentin prison over in California. And they’re working in collaboration with an artist, Nigel Poor, who works in the Bay Area. And I believe this is the first podcast — or the first time I’ve actually heard with much depth — stories told by ordinary men in prison. So it sort of provides this radical, extremely humanizing view of what life is like inside prison.

‘Who? Weekly’

Quah: I don’t know about you, but I do the grocery shopping for my household, so I spend a lot of time in the aisle just looking at the tabloids. And I always see celebrities that I just don’t have an understanding of, don’t know who these people are, and I don’t know why they’re on this magazine. And Who? Weekly is a really good compendium of the B-, C-, D-celebrities that exist out in America, of which there are very many, and I am profoundly baffled by how many people are semi-famous and are getting paid for being sort of semi-famous. Who? Weekly is hosted by Lindsey Weber and Bobby Finger — two extremely smart, extremely funny people — and they basically go through the top headlines of the ‘whos’ — is what they call these B-, C-, D- celebrities — and the ‘thems’ — which is the celebrities we all know. … It’s really fun. It’s a really fun show.

‘Making Oprah’

Quah: Yours, Making Oprah, I’m a big fan of. I think that wrapped up last year. I’m a huge fan of that. Thank you so much for doing it.


Quah: I’m a huge lover of the Longform Podcast. It’s an interview podcast with really good magazine writers and documentarians. I’ve been relistening to a bunch of my favorites. One in particular that I’m going to listen to right now when I walk out the door is one with Ezra Edelman, who made O.J.: Made In America.

Quah’s family-friendly podcast recommendations:

‘The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel’

Quah: It just won a Peabody last year. It’s a really, really good serialized mystery show for kids.

‘Brains On’

Quah: It’s a very, very cool science podcast [for kids].

‘Wow in the World’

Quah: It’s hosted by Mindy Thomas and Guy Raz, of TED Radio Hour fame.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. Click the “play” button to hear the entire segment.