Best New Drive-Time Ear Candy
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because you want to make the most of your morning commute.
By Rachel Levin
Old-fashioned FM radio has been losing listeners by the day, and we’re not that sad about it. Not when there’s been a meteoric rise in audio streaming that allows us to customize our earbud content down to the second.
Some listeners want Robin Thicke right now . But for those who need their daily dose of NPR and much more, there’s the Swell app. The Pandora of talk radio, backed by serious Silicon Valley funding ($7.2 million at last count), Swell allows you to indulge your aural ADD and bounce around from news to comedy to sports to TED Talks, all in one car ride, without taking your eyes off the road. Its algorithm knows you better than your boyfriend does. Want more “This American Life”? Less “Science Times”? Hyper-personalized ESPN feeds? Done. Swell’s app is like your favorite podcast mixed with an arsenal of pleasant surprises.
You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll cringe. You’ll think. Here’s a Swell sample, from one recent hour-plus commute:
Kemp Powers, The Moth (17 min.)
“As he handed me the prescription for Xanax, I just blurted it out. I said, you know, one more thing: When I was 14 years old, I shot my best friend in the face accidentally, and I watched him die.”
Nicholson Baker, the New Yorker Out Loud (19 min)
“I’m like everybody else: I spend a lot of time staring at a computer screen. In the evening we watch…it might be ‘Friday Night Lights’ or ‘Orange Is the New Black,’ but what we’re looking at is this flat, beautiful screen that is delivering all kinds of colors in a kind of agile way.”
Denise Herzing, TED Talks (15 min.)
“We know dolphins’ brain-to-body ratio is second only to humans’.”
Pulse of the Planet (2 min.)
“Cities actually create their own unique weather patterns.”
Comedy Central Stand-Up: Kumail Nanjiani, Dan Soder, John Oliver, Pete Holmes, Reggie Watts and Joe Mande (15 min.)
“A lot of people hate hipsters. I don’t, I respect them. They move into the most dangerous neighborhoods and force everybody out. That’s some gangster shit. It’s actually just white people being white people. We’ve been doing it for centuries.”