Home » What Do You Listen To While Driving?

What Do You Listen To While Driving?

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Driving preferences are very personal. How we like to sit, how we like to set the temperature, how we pick a lane on the highway. But today, I’m asking about the most personal of all. What do you like to listen to in the car?

Once upon a time, you didn’t have much choice about what you listened to in the car. You either put on a local AM radio station or nothing at all. Some automakers fiddled about with in-dash record players, but they sucked out loud. Eventually, FM radio came along, but it was only with the advent of the 8-track and the Compact Cassette that you got real choice in what you listened to. CDs would come along much later.

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It was only in the early 2000s that we saw a real revolution take hold. It was the rise of the MP3 player, which then begat the aux cord. Today, most of us have some kind of Bluetooth link between our smartphone and our car stereos, but it was the aux cord that really changed the game way back when.

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Children Collide’s first album remains one of my favorites for a hills run.

I don’t just want to talk about formats, though. I want to know what you listen to. Maybe you’re ride or die for Billy Joel. Maybe you still think The Thermals are the most slept-on indie band in the history of North America.

Or perhaps you only listen to crossover collaborations between major pop artists as record labels try to break new talent in the UK and US markets. If that’s the case, we should talk about how Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj totally stunted on Jessie J in 2014’s Bang Bang.

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In parts of Australia, you can listen to a digital broadcast of supermarket radio in your car. Complete with the in-store ads and all.

Growing up, I was big into alternative rock and emo, with a side of trance. On one fateful night, The Offspring spurred me into such an excited state that I ran clear off a mountain road when I missed a braking zone into a tight hairpin. Learn from my example, teenagers – don’t go stupid with your tunes cranked to 11.

But today, I might surprise you. I’m often listening to local AM radio. I don’t have a lot of social connections in my local area, kind of like an old person. The conversational nature of AM radio makes me feel like I live in some kind of community, even if I spend most of my time in the cold isolation of the far-flung suburbs.

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Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.

On any trip longer than 30 minutes, though, I’m on my podcast thang. I crank through episodes of D&D Court from the legends at Not Another D&D Podcast. It’s hosted by a bunch of professional Dungeons and Dragons players and DMs. They pass judgement on cases sent in by listeners, such as whether it’s okay or completely stupid for a player to roleplay as Anchorman. I’m a subscriber so I get all the bonus episodes, too. I’ve got a long solo road trip coming up and I can’t wait to blast through them for eight hours straight.

I’d imagine your preferences are entirely different from mine. So tell me—what do you put on when you’re going for a drive?

Image credits: Lewin Day

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Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
1 month ago

For a while now, it’s just my local FM presets which is perfectly fine w/ me…usually just want to get in and go since most stuff is local and don’t want to mess w/ a phone. Even on longer drives it’s interesting to sample the different stations. For some reason, the CD player in my car doesn’t work and usually I would mess w/ it or install my old spare single DIN but it’s newer than that setup & would take a whole kit to change over. There’s no point in doing it just for CD’s, which I do enjoy. Also used to have cassette decks and enjoyed those too.
I used to install all the stereos in my previous cars though. At one point, I had a fancy aftermarket CD player, some great sounding speakers, an amp, and 2 10″ subwoofers…I ran all the wires for it too. I used to know someone who would drive cheap tow auction cars and put an expensive system in them and then switch it to the next car- it was just hilarious seeing a $400 car w/ a $3000 system in it! Ha ha, sounded great though
I can’t do talk radio or anything like that…it’s more fun to have all kinds of music to enjoy the drive. I’ve always liked most all kinds of hard rock/metal the most but also like a whole variety of everything else mainly from the 1960’s to 2000.
Not much into Country except certain ones…also only like certain rap artists but there are some amazing ones like Bone Thugs n’ Harmony. As far as the rock/metal goes my favorites are Guns n’ Roses, Pink Floyd, Motley Crue & Aerosmith
(This is one drop in the bucket of all the ones I listen to)

Lwnexgen
Lwnexgen
1 month ago

Audiobooks. Anything longer than like, 10 minutes.

BobWellington
BobWellington
1 month ago

I usually listen to podcasts (too many to list, but The Smoking Tire, Fitzdog Radio/Sunday Papers, Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend, and of course The Autopian are favorites). For music I’m a huge fan of the ’90s, though I also like a lot of newer mostly unknown stuff as well. Built to Spill, Local H, Fugazi, Silkworm, Queens of the Stone Age, and Streetlight Manifesto are a few of my favorites. I usually listen to podcasts using my Zune connected to the aux in my car, though the aux input has been acting up lately so I’ve been listening to more CDs which is good because honestly I listen to podcasts too much these days.

BobWellington
BobWellington
1 month ago

That’s funny you mention The Thermals…my sister texted yesterday out of the blue saying “I forgot about The Thermals”. They were such a great band even if their last few albums were a bit weak.

PlatinumZJ
PlatinumZJ
1 month ago

Terrestrial radio in my area sucks so much that I’ve never bothered programming AM or FM presets in my newest Jeep (almost 3 years old). I have SiriusXM for commuting and super-long road trips; one of my favorite channels is Radio Classics (old time radio shows). Sometimes they even play old ads, which is a neat listening experience. I also have my iPod, loaded with days of music (classic rock, ’80s – ’90s pop, metal, alternative, video game soundtracks) and podcasts (loads of true crime). That mostly gets used at work though. I do keep some favorite music on my phone, mostly so I don’t have to worry about keeping up with the iPod while traveling.

My most versatile vehicle is also my oldest…the head unit in my ’97 Grand Cherokee offers Bluetooth, two USB inputs (one of which is a Lightning cable for the iPod), an SD card slot, and a CD player. The radio works too, but there’s not much going on there; I didn’t even bother to check to see if my presets got wiped out the last time I changed the battery.

Sbzr
Sbzr
1 month ago

nowadays just FIP Radio France, human curated truly eclectic and without any commercial breaks ever…

Nathaniel
Nathaniel
1 month ago

I like operas/music dramas for road trips. A full Ring cycle is 15 hours, perfect for long journeys.

Last edited 1 month ago by Nathaniel
TDK SA90
TDK SA90
1 month ago

Radioparadise. On the FLAC setting. Over android auto. I love what this guy plays.

Danny Zabolotny
Danny Zabolotny
1 month ago

I don’t remember the last time I used the radio in my car… I just use Bluetooth and stream from Spotify. I more or less bounce between pop-punk, 2000’s radio rock, metalcore, deathcore, prog metal, etc. I get more than enough exposure to pop music every time my girlfriend is in the car with me, because she always puts on that stuff.

At work I usually have AltAZ going, which plays “oldies” like Linkin Park, Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Incubus, etc.

Mike
Mike
1 month ago

Mostly music. I’ve got over 8,000 songs on my phone in almost every genre imaginable, so it really depends on the mood. Typically play albums. This week it included:
Beastie Boys
Led Zeppelin
Porcupine Tree
Jamiroquai
Ren
Johnny Cash

Lots of SiriusXM: Deep tracks, Ozzy’s Boneyard, Classic Vinyl, Classic Rewind, First Wave, Chill, Lithium…

Commuting (1x/week), though, I often stick to podcasts. Currently catching up on the British History Podcast.

Mike
Mike
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike

Amazing! Still feels like I’m part of a secret club. How is he not more well known?

Codfangler
Codfangler
1 month ago

Podcasts, mostly history and current events, and BBC and The Economist shows.

eAudiobooks from my local library.

An eclectic selection of CDs, Beach Boys, Johnny Cash, etc., with one basic Russian language lesson thrown in.

Alan Christensen
Alan Christensen
1 month ago

Lately I’ve mostly been listening for odd mechanical sounds.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
1 month ago

Same: just put a motor in, and I’m dubious about the Vanos

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
1 month ago

I live my entire life listening to music. Work, play, in between. Always music.

But, the one-time I don’t listen to music is when i’m out for a drive. Daily driving, yes, music. But when I go out for a cruise I turn it off, which is weird for me. But I think I enjoy immersing myself in the drive… the car and the world around me. Actually, one of my fun cars the radio barely even works and I don’t really care.

Maybe this makes me some kind of driving purist. But I also enjoy automatic transmissions so maybe I’m just an enigma.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
1 month ago

Phish Radio/Sirius XMU/assorted comedy channels on XM (which I might not renew), 102.7 WEQX, various Ringer sports podcasts, Spotify when I want to listen to a specific album.

Lately those albums include:

The Smile – Wall of Eyes
M83- Fantasy
Deerhoof – The Runners Four
The Dukes of Stratosphear – Chips from the Chocolate Fireball
Of Montreal – Satanic Panic in the Attic
And of course, the Donkey Kong Country 2 soundtrack

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
1 month ago

In my pickup I like to defy stereotypes by listening to hardbass or reggae. In the car I’m partial to The Hu, Chumbawamba, and Gordon Lightfoot to placate my wife.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 month ago
Reply to  Slow Joe Crow

The Hu slaps.

Gilbert Wham
Gilbert Wham
1 month ago
Reply to  Slow Joe Crow

I fuckin’ love hardbass.

Cerberus
Cerberus
1 month ago

In the morning, I can’t handle music, so I go between the AM radio for the traffic report and maybe some local news and NPR. Afternoon and non workdays, I listen to soundtrack music, which is whatever songs inspire scenes to write. Mostly that’s ’80s and Industrial metal, but it’s a mix. David Lynch’s Pinky’s Dream even inspired the book I’m writing now, though in a typical haunting Lynch way—I got this image of a clown screaming out the window of a purple ’70 ‘Cuda as he raced down the road at night in the rain and that sat for about 2 years without knowing what to do with it. Finally, he showed up without the car and told me he was a black guy with confabulation (I was researching the fallibility of memory at the time) who became a white face clown as a social experiment (this is what he tells people, but it actually isn’t the truth) and had a very dry sense of humor and a kind of hardboiled-detective way of talking. From there, his 1st person unreliable narrator story started rolling in. Well, more or less. If I still took long road trips, I’d probably listen to old radio programs. They tend to be pretty cheesy, but there’s something relaxing about even the “horror” ones.

CSRoad
CSRoad
1 month ago

I mostly drive without radio or music and get into the surroundings. Sometimes on long drives I’ll tune in whatever is locally available FM, to get a feel for an area, although since large corporations control playlists almost everywhere, things are not what they used to be.

I used to be more involved with selecting drive media from 8-Track through CDs, mostly rock and classical, but somehow somewhere along the line I found I preferred nothing. When I have passengers I just let them pick the radio station and then I tolerate it.

Motorcycling, I just like nothing and have always been that way, a motorcycle ride is its own kind of music for me.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago

I listen to the radio. No special apps or Bluetooth just the radio. I seek until I find something I like. Listen until it’s something I don’t like. Then seek again. It don’t cost me nothing. I get the local news and weather. Heck most drives are just short hops it takes longer to set up than the trip. AC? FORGET ABOUT IT! ROLL the window down and drive. Heat I’m there before the car is warm. I used to drive a box truck, below 32 degrees? Window open drinking a diet Pepsi and smoking a cigarette. If 50 mile range is enough for an EV why is music and temperature more important?

Timbales
Timbales
1 month ago

I usually listen to podcasts I’ve downloaded to my phone.

ToyotaTaxPayer
ToyotaTaxPayer
1 month ago

The crazy mix of a couple thousand songs on my phone. Mostly 80s heavy metal and modern symphonic and power metal. So bon Jovi. Def Leppard, dragonforce, Amaranth, avantasia with a little bit of country and pop to keep my wife’s head from exploding on trips.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
1 month ago
Reply to  ToyotaTaxPayer

Have you tried Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats? Seems like they would be up your alley.

Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats – Shockwave City (OFFICIAL PROMO) (youtube.com)

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
1 month ago
Reply to  ToyotaTaxPayer

Same here as far as 80’s metal…since you mentioned them (even though they’re not so much metal) I figured I would ask if you’ve seen the new Bon Jovi documentary on Hulu? It’s basically one of the best music docs I’ve ever seen. I’ve always liked them but sort of keep them separate from all my favorite 80’s metal even though they were there during the hair metal era…and that’s only when they started, they have been around ever since and their music has evolved …so maybe that’s why

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 month ago
Reply to  Freelivin2713

TIL Bon Jovi is metal

ToyotaTaxPayer
ToyotaTaxPayer
1 month ago

To be precise. Hair metal. 🙂

Last edited 1 month ago by ToyotaTaxPayer
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 month ago
Reply to  ToyotaTaxPayer

> bon Jovi. Def Leppard

Not metal

> dragonforce, Amaranth, avantasia

Metal

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
1 month ago

That’s why I said I keep them separate in my mind since they’re not metal, they’re more hard rock w/ ballads in between like most hair bands

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
1 month ago

During normal driving, whatever – NPR, Ezra Klein or The Smoking Tire podcasts, whatever music I happen to be feeling that day. Never, ever commercial radio.

For road trips I have more specific tastes. I listen to two of Jimmy Buffett’s early albums, the soundtrack to “The Harder They Come” and the rocksteady compilation “The King Kong Compilation”, because I grew up listening to those as a kid on road trips and I still love them. But my favorite, in general terms, for long, long drives are vintage Yonder Mountain String Band concert recordings, and The Grateful Dead. Drove my new-to-me 45-year-old BMW on a 3500-mile trip home last year and it was almost 100% Dead, YMSB and Billy Strings.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
1 month ago
Reply to  Theotherotter

Which two Buffets? A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean is my absolute favorite because of the hard-luck songs: “…we all swore we would pay the Mini Mart back, Yessir!”
good tunes

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
1 month ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

A1A and Changes In Attitudes, Changes In Latitudes. My parents bought the LPs when they came out. after about that I sort of build a tall wall between myself and Parrotheadism, but I love the old stuff. I even make it through ‘Margaritaville’ because I insist on listening to all tracks in order.

Last edited 1 month ago by Theotherotter
TOSSABL
TOSSABL
1 month ago
Reply to  Theotherotter

Yeah, not a Parrothead myself: more tie dye than Hawaiian shirts. But I’ll sing most of his early stuff out loud if I’m not in public to scare babies & make dogs howl

Kevin B
Kevin B
1 month ago

NPR, mainly. A lot of times I’ll podcast “Planed Money”.

Cool Dave
Cool Dave
1 month ago

It’s usually hard rock or metal but sometimes the NFS: Underground soundtrack just can’t be beat!

PeriSoft
PeriSoft
1 month ago

Mostly A State Of Trance, Group Therapy with Above & Beyond, and a big playlist of similar EDM that I refer to as ‘knob clockwise’ due to its contents’ impact on my volume preferences. ANUQRAM, Solarstone, Nox Vahn, Arty, Oliver Smith, David Forbes, Hausman.

Beyond that I have a rather large playlist of insanely chirpy future house inspired by tracks that tend to make up the background of Roblox games I play all the time with my daughter, called “ROBLOX EDM LOL”. You may laugh, but there are only two things that feel better than the cocaine-infused Pixie Stix of the EDM world: Driving race cars, and another one. God damnit, I love me some Tobu and Raven & Kreyn, and I’m not afraid to admit it.

OK, actually, I’m terrified.

Rob Schneider
Rob Schneider
1 month ago

I incessantly flip between presets for the local FM Rock/pop stations, to avoid commercials and songs I don’t like. They all seem to be migrating to ’80s and ’90s music, which is fine because that’s when most of my favorite music came from. (I joke about most of the music I listen to being made by dead people, but sadly there’s way too much truth to that dark humor.)

When I can’t find something I like, I switch to a CD burned with songs from my MP3 collection.

I’ve always avoided SiriusXM when new cars or rentals have had the free subscription, as I don’t want to get hooked on it and have to fork out a monthly expense.

Tl;Dr: I’m cheap and set in my ways.

That reminds me – the new car doesn’t have a CD player so I’m going to have to figure something out before this summer’s road trip.

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