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My go-to road trip entertainment for years was a trusty book on tape. When everyone else in the car had nodded off, the latest James Patterson novel could help miles of turnpike fly by.

But podcasts have upended all that.

Sync the phone to the car via Bluetooth, search through topics or scroll downloaded episodes, and hit that little triangular “play” symbol. The possibilities are endless, and the episodes often are short enough that I can opt for 15 minutes of comedy while heading to my next assignment, or a more in-depth show if I have time to kill.

Here are a few that I never pass by; to listen, just click the highlighted links. If you have a podcast you think our readers would enjoy, tell me a bit about it, and where to find it, at jkopf@LNPnews.com. (I’ll compile reader feedback below this story).

— “Unexplained”: In a nod to the spookiness awaiting us at the end of October, the biweekly “Unexplained” tells the stories of real-life events, mysterious coincidences and peculiar happenings that have confounded explanation.

— “99% Invisible”: Learning about items in our everyday lives that are so common they’re essentially invisible is always an eye-opener.

Straws, for instance, aren’t just an easily mocked effort to cut back on plastic waste: Who “invented” the first straw? How do straws reflect the machine age? Why did they become popular? Little details of daily life — such as why your phone’s text alert sounds the way it does — have a larger story than you’d imagine.

— “2 Dope Queens”: Oh, Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams, how I adore you. I’m not your target audience, and I’m glad I can listen in anyway. Comedians and writers Robinson and Williams had stellar careers before they paired up for “2DQ,” and together they bring wit and social commentary to their work showcasing standup comedians, especially those of color, women and members of the LGBTQ community.

— “Stuff You Missed in History Class”: Let’s just say there’s a lot I missed, including the ghosts of the Italian plague island of Poveglia; the full story of Dred Scott’s life (don’t leave out his wife); and the life of Elizabeth Jennings Graham, who’s been called a 19th-century Rosa Parks.

— “The Mortified Podcast”: If the idea of hearing people read from their teenage journals, talk about embarrassing summer camp experiences or admit to their celebrity obsessions sounds entertaining, here’s the podcast for you.

— "The Memory Palace": Quick 10-minute vignettes reflecting on people and events, and the memories they conjure. Host Nate DiMeo has a voice built for podcasting, and an unerring talent for taking listeners to a place, or a time, or an experience long gone. He also has a marvelous instinct for matching music with words. Some favorite episodes include “Dreamland,” about the Coney Island park that burned down in 1911; and “The Year Hank Greenberg Hit 58 Home Runs” — an episode that proves that American athletes and politics have always been linked in many of the same ways they are today.

— If you are new to the world of podcasting, and aren’t sure how to even search for or download them, you can find a basic how-to by Digital Trends at bit.ly/PodcastsHowTo.

  • Jennifer Kopf is an LNP staff writer. “Unscripted” is a weekly entertainment column produced by a rotating team of writers.