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HERB BENHAM: That sounds like a podcast

A friend's wife is going on a road trip. Nothing better than a road trip, especially one in which you do not have to reach the destination in a big hurry.

However, her trip is long. Almost a thousand miles. Nearly 14 hours. That's more than a Nature Valley bar and a bottle of Dasani road trip.

I wanted to be helpful. Helpful Herb. That's my middle name, my moniker and my message.

"Helpful" because we'd just taken a road trip so I was qualified to offer some Tripadvisor-quality advice.

Starting with music, everybody's go-to but a long trip will vaporize even the most carefully constructed playlist, so much so you may never want to listen to music again, yours or anybody else's.

Music is better as an accent piece on a long road trip. Something to sprinkle on like seasoning — salt, oregano or red pepper flakes. Something to wake yourself up when you get drowsy and cheer yourself up when you realize that your life may have more Texas Panhandle than Colorado Rocky Mountain High.

The miracle, panacea and salve for the saddle soreness of a long road trip is the podcast. Like drive-thru coffeehouses, I never thought podcasts would amount to much but that's why I'm here and Howard Schultz is percolating on $4 billion.

Podcasts are a treasure trove of what smarties call content. Everybody has done a podcast or has thought about doing one. I like Bill Simmons, a sports and culture guy, he's good, smart and funny.

There are a million podcasts. "Serial," "Dirty John," "S-Town" and, most recently, "In the Red Clay," about Billy Sunday Birt and the Georgia mafia, which we listened to on our recent road trip.

What you learn about podcasts, especially ones with multiple episodes, is oftentimes, they are one or two episodes too long. It's podcast padding. It's like taking a 20-page article in Outside Magazine and stretching it into a book.

"Has your wife picked out any podcasts?" I asked, when I saw him recently, prior to her trip.

I thought I could help, I feel as if I am podcast literate but I was respectful. A listener rather than a talker. That's the way you draw people in.

"Yes, she has," he said, cutting me off at the podcast pass.

Wait a minute. Aren't you the least bit curious? I'm loaded with suggestions on spicy content and how to pass 28 hours alone in the car. I can make 28 hours seem like 20 minutes. You won't want to get out of the car if you're in the middle of one of mine.

Then I had a podcast epiphany. Everybody has their own list and backlist. No one can work through them all.

Podcasts have become like books, movies or TV shows. There are a million good ones but we can't seem to listen to the same ones concurrently so we have nothing to talk about with the people are doing the same thing we are.

Sounds familiar. Sounds like a podcast.

Herb Benham is a columnist for The Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at or 661-395-7279.