I'll start. I didn't discover podcasts until perhaps 2-3 years ago. I sincerely wish I could have made use of them during the years when I had fairly long commutes to work. I remember trying to make those hours more pleasant through the use of satellite radio, but nowadays recorded podcasts are essentially my sole entertainment while driving. I download them to my desktop computer, then transcribe them to rewriteable CDs which I listen to while running errands or taking trips.
For brief rides in the car to get groceries or visit the library, I prefer short-attention-span recordings such as No Such Thing as a Fish, and BBC programs like Science in Action, In Our Time: History, and In Our Time: Science (BBC podcasts here).
For longer trips where I can listen for 45-80 minutes, I think the best podcasts in the world are those created by the staffs at Radiolab and This American Life.
I have a dozen or so others that I occasionally sample, such as NOVA, America's Test Kitchen, TED talks, Weekend Break, To the Best of Our Knowledge, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, As it Happens, etc. (CBC podcasts here) (Public Radio podcast directory here).
And while I'm on the subject, I'm going to direct a couple gentle rants towards any readers out there who produce their own podcasts:
1) Some podcasts are reformulations of live radio programs. During the live program phone numbers, and Facebook and Twitter access data are useful. But call-in numbers are not appropriate in a downloaded podcast. I gave up on "A Way With Words" after listening to phone, Facebook and Twitter recited I think seven times in a span of 40 minutes. Please consider editing the live broadcast recording before saving it as a downloadable podcast.
2) Another thing to edit out is idle chit-chat with callers.
"Hi, welcome to [program]". Who's this?
"My name is Martha, and I live in Seattle. It's a typical rainy day here right now."
"I suppose if you live there, you eventually get used to it."
"Not me - I was born and raised in Arizona!" [giggle]
[laughter]. "So, Martha, how can we help you today?"...
3) Please don't laugh at your own jokes. We know you didn't surprise yourself with the pun or the bon mot. You're using your laughter as a signal to the broadcast audience to tell them they've heard something humorous. "... and nobody knows what kind of soup was served at that dinner. You might say it was 'souper secret.' HA HA HA." Please just present your material and I'll decide what's funny.
4) Don't underestimate your listeners. Long words and technical terms are not something to be embarassed about. If you're doing a podcast on gravity waves and the instrument that discovered them is a Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, don't present that term in a different voice with an apologetic tone followed by "also called LIGO - thank goodness! he he". This isn't seventh grade.
5) And finally, many people rigidly observe the dictum that in order to teach something you have to a) tell people what you're going to say, b) say it, and c) tell them what you said. That structure may be useful in a long presentation, but in a brief podcast it is a waste of listener time. And try to avoid "As I've said previously...," "As I explained earlier...," and "In other words..."Enough for my petty peeves. Your turn to go to the Comments and share with me and other readers your suggestions regarding podcasts that we might find entertaining or educational (or both).