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Free Audio Content for Long Drives? 110

goatbar asks: "We are going to be driving across the country at the end of the week to a new job and wondered if there are good sources for free books/stories on tape that we could put on our iPod to make the long hours of freeway driving go much faster. What are your favorite stories for the road and where are good places to pickup content? Old radio shows, mysteries, etc are all good!"
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Free Audio Content for Long Drives?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:49PM (#13169823)
    if you could find some way of sending frequency modulated radio signals from some central location to a reciever in your motor-car, that might be a solution...
    • DVD (Score:4, Interesting)

      by GuitarNeophyte ( 636993 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @05:17PM (#13170196) Homepage Journal
      I always thought that the idea of listening to the audio from DVDs (well, back in the day, I imagined it as from VHS's, but it works the same way) would be nice way of travelling.

      On a trip to school, a several years ago, I caught a television broadcast signal on my radio (like, they were transmitting the tv sounds onto the radio), and they were playing the sounds to Casper -- that one with the fat ghost and the smelly ghost and stuff.

      Anyway, since I'd already seen the movie, I knew enough to be able to understand what was going on, while still watching the road.

      I work on other stuff while "watching" movies at home anyway, and since I don't look at the screen too much when I do that anyway, it's about the same.

      Tired of answering tons of basic computer questions for friends and family? Send them to [] instead!
      • I do the same thing with the tv shows i watch alot (simpsons, south park, etc). I turn them on as background while i code or play games, etc. Funny how you get a picture in your mind and can follow along without actually watching
      • in my neck of the woods, you can pick the up audio for the local CBC station at the bottom of the FM spectrum (87.9). useful if there's a hockey game you want to see and there's no other radio station covering it but cbc is...
      • Some movies really need the visual aspects to work well, but like you say, if you've seen it once, the audio can really be enough of a cue.

        The only movie I actually transferred to audio cassette to listen to in the car so far is "Carlito's Way," which works really well, in my opinion. The Godfather would probably be a good choice. The Monty Python soundtracks-to-movies are also great ;)


      • > Tired of answering tons of basic computer questions for friends and
        > family? Send them to instead!!
        great oxymoron.
        i turn to though...
      • by no13 ( 903519 )
        "On a trip to school, a several years ago, I caught a television broadcast signal on my radio (like, they were transmitting the tv sounds onto the radio), and they were playing the sounds to Casper -- that one with the fat ghost and the smelly ghost and stuff." this happens 'coz the "old-school" or "normal" TV signals are, well broadcast over AM!
        yep. The video feed goes over AM, while audio feed goes over FM... at least that's how it's transmitted over the coax cable.
        That's how some of those radios that
    • by TheVoice900 ( 467327 ) <kamil&kamilkisiel,net> on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @06:17PM (#13170883)
      I've also heard rumors that amplitude modulated radio signals could be used for the same purpose! Possibly even travelling greater distances.. alas, only a rumor.
    • alt.binaries.mp3.audiobooks alt.binaries.sounds.audiobooks alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.audiobooks alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.spoken-word alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.books I've got about 200 CDRs filled with audiobooks. 700MB usualy turns out to be 30-40 hours of runtime (depends on encoding.) I'd estimate 6,000 hours. Over 300 titles.
    • alt.binaries.mp3.audiobooks alt.binaries.sounds.audiobooks alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.audiobooks alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.spoken-word alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.books

      I've got about 200 CDRs filled with audiobooks.

      700MB usualy turns out to be 30-40 hours of runtime (depends on encoding.)

      I'd estimate 6,000 hours. Over 300 titles.

      PS: How do I make sure the selection of Plain old Text STICKS and dosen't keep going back to HTML Formatted?
    • hooooo.....set up your own radio station !?! I would download the poadcasts of "IT conversations".....and fill my ipod
    • j00 sh0uld try catching one of them 1337 p0dcasts in your iPod... some I hear are very 1337.

      Am I 1337 yet?
  • This American Life (Score:5, Informative)

    by sneakers563 ( 759525 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:50PM (#13169834)
    My favorite "story" radio show is This American Life []. You can download the shows from Audible for a fee, or, if you're using Linux, you could use something like VSound [] to get them for free.
  • nothing's better.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by thefirelane ( 586885 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:52PM (#13169859)
    Anyone who's heard at least one episode knows the best answer:

    This American Life []

    There are episodes available on iTunes (too expensive though), and free real episodes on their site which could be converted. Listen to some of their best, it is the greatest thing there is for long drives
  • Project Gutenberg (Score:5, Informative)

    by Scuff ( 59882 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:52PM (#13169872)
    Project Gutenberg has a bunch of old books in audio formats.
    • Or you could just go to a library.

      In England, even the tiniest library has dozens of audio books on tape or CD, available for free.
    • Or roll your own from a Project Gutenberg (or any other) text file. If you have a Mac, there are various text to speech [] programs available--for example, books2burn [] is designed for this.

      So long as you don't mind listening to one of the funky Apple system voices for hours on end...!
      • Of course it is just as doable under linux, and windows. Though if you can get a program that uses the AT&T voices do so. (Also Cepstral voices are supposed to be good).
      • some of the gutenburg ones (and all of the library ones the other poster mentioned) are read by people, and are much easier to listen to than machine-read stuff, unless you're trying to put them to sleep on the drive.
    • Since the texts in Project Gutenberg (and others such as Projekt Runeberg []) are public domain, anyone could take the time to produce an audio version.

      I could think that producing an audio book or two would be an excellent term project for high school or junior college level drama students. All you'd need is a comfortable, sound proof room, a good microphone (or two) connected to a computer, and a simple audio editor [] and a text to read. If the local library does not have an old public domain book, someth

  • by iamcadaver ( 104579 ) * on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:53PM (#13169878) []

    Lame /. filter won't let me post 5 minutes of text from the first episode. It's available at the bottom of the link above.

    This guy freeforms this multi-season story arc'ing post-apocalyptic cyberpunk fantasy using old style radio-drama techniques. Totally absorbing.

    SKC is The Fucking Man
  • Well let's see (Score:4, Informative)

    by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @04:55PM (#13169918) Homepage Journal
    if you do a quick google search [], you come up with

    • http://www.related-
    • /audio.html

    There's lots of stuff out there. I remember downloading 45 minute radio stories from the 30's and 40's as 10-15MB files in mp3 format @ a bitrate between 20-56 or so.
  • [] -- several audio books [] -- Audio books including Sherlock Holmes [] -- Sci-Fi
  • Cracker Barrel (Score:1, Informative)

    by tscheez ( 71929 )
    While not free, Cracker Barrel restaurants allow you to buy a book on tape and return it at any location for the purchase price - $4 per week you have the tape.

    And there are Cracker Barrel's at about every exit ramp (well, not really, but it seems like it sometimes)

  • by Noksagt ( 69097 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @05:12PM (#13170141) Homepage
    This year's Technical Audiobooks: Where are the good ones? [] and Sources of Intelligent Audio for Commute? [] both had a lot of good suggestions.

    Podcasts are good, but (mostly) non-fiction & current. Audible or iTunes or other sources for downloading audio work well, as do ripping CDs to your player.
  • Library (Score:3, Informative)

    by cdrudge ( 68377 ) * on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @05:14PM (#13170163) Homepage
    Check your library. Most will have audio books on CD that you could easily space shift to use in your iPod for a week or two while it was checked out to you.
  • Podcasts are the way to go.
    You can find any type of show you want, they're generally free too. Just find a couple that sound interesting to you!
    • I would agree, to a point. I got into podcasting through TWIT, which is done by people with TV and radio expirence. However, alot of podcasters do not have this expirence, and while their efforts are appreciated, amount to unlistenable dreck. I recently bought a sirius receiver, so i cut back the amount of average quality podcasts i listen to. Now, its just TWIT, and thats merely because I like to hear some of my favorite former techtv personalities talk about current subjects (except dvorak. Cant stand the

  • Comedy College [] download a few, use vsound, - laugh your butt off all the way there!


  • One word - google podcast and you'll have plenty to choose from. Here in Denmark the national radio recently started podcasting a selection of their shows - allthough it's mostly their own talk shows since they haven't yet got a plan for redistributing 3rd party IP content. Anyway - look up podcasting and I'm sure you'll find something for the drive... :)
  • Its not free, but (Score:3, Informative)

    by Omega1045 ( 584264 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2005 @05:43PM (#13170480)
    A few audiobooks from will last you a while (I do not work for them). I have the $20/month account which gets me 2 audio books to download and keep forever. You can pick up some long stuff. A couple of the Dark Tower books by King were well over 20 hours. They are downloaded as MP3, but it is a special DRM version. You must have a player that supports it. They also burn out to CD, but 27 hours of audio (one of the dark tower books) is a whole-lotta-cdrs.

    And $10/audio book is dirt cheap compared to what you will find anywhere else. My wife just got the new Harry Potter at the store (JK Rowling is not on Audible) and paid about $50.

    Hope my rambling helps!

  • You could get Streamtuner and hit record on a bunch of spoken word audio streams so they get recorded via Streamripper into mp3 streams, and take those with you. There's a whole lot of different spoken word stuff that streamtuner shows up, ready for the ripping.

    I think you've gotta pay for a good version of those tools if you're running windows though, but who cares about windows anyway.
  • Actually, I'm a fan of listening to lugradio [] on my drive to work. If not that I usually just randomly switch through the Podcast Directory. []
    A couple more to wet your tongue would be to dig through archive [] and legal torrents. []
    Alternatively, I know you said you wish to save a bit of dough by doing it the freebie way, but I've gotta tell you Sirius [] is one hell of an offering.
    binaries.sound.radi o.oldtime
  • Satellite radio. You can find a station you like, and listen to it wherever. I like XM for its comedy stations and it also plays some pretty decent music.
  • These projects are mine:

    Spoken Alexandria [] (free, unabridged recordings in AAC, Ogg Vorbis, and MP3 formats; sharing encouraged with Creative Commons Licenses)

    Telltale Weekly [] (cheap, unabridged recordings in AAC, Ogg Vorbis, and MP3 formats; after five years they released free at Spoken Alexandria)

    Enjoy or ignore.

  • Coast to Coast.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by modi123 ( 750470 )

    I can't believe someone hasn't mentioned Coast to Coast with Art Belle and George Nori.

    If you are driving late at night, or heck snag the previous shows off his web site and burn them to disk, this show will knock your socks off.

    Coast to Coast for the uninitiated covers everything from ghosts, fringe science, space travel, aliens, and conspiracies. I swear it's perfect to listen to while coding, drinking with buddies, or long drives.

    Now excuse me while I hunker back into my Faraday's cage, and don

  • Having just completed a cross-country dash I can recommend the ones I found: [] This one is really good, it's the best of the podcasts I currently listen to. Warning: As of this writing he still hasn't released all the chapters (which is pissing me off Scott, get on with it already!) but what is there will take you a day to listen to and well worth the download. []Sherlock Holmes pod casts. While the production quality is not as high
  • []

    They have some low quality downloads for free, otherwise you can get high quality ones for pretty cheap.

    I got their dvd of audiobooks, what a deal 500 audio books for only $120. Thats $0.24 per audio book. I listen to them on my way to and back from work everyday. Great stuff!
  • For $120USD you can buy 7 DVD of audio books.

    On a scale of 1 to 10 I'd put most of them at about 6. 1 being monotone and 10 being with backing music, sound effects and great dialog.

    The speaker isn't amazing but he is reasonable. Most of the books are in the public domain but some of them aren't. There is a lot of clasics and instead of buying the DVDs you can download them.

    I think I figured it would take over 1 year listening none stop to hear them all. []
  • The Internet Archive: Open Source Audio [] has a lot of free audio with staff picks, popularity stats, etc.
  • The Internet Audio Archive [] has lectures as well as music.
  • Be kind.

    I'm intentionally not putting this link in the proper format to protect the site from mindless click-through hounds. If you want to hear a bunch of good and original stories that might be true but probably aren't, check the archives here;

    They have a RSS feed for podcast clients, and if you are really good writer yourself...drop them a line. They may actually let you join them. Best to have a story first.

  • The Jean Shepherd Archive has hundreds of hours of unrestricted downloadable audio collected by fans over the years: []

    Some other sources of unrestricted material:

    Transom public radio workshop/showcase: [] has some good audio. []

    Benjamin Walker's site: []

    Cook'd and Bomb'd - Chris Morris site. Hunt around for mirrors that have archived radio programs. (The Blue Jam series is my personal favorite.)
    http:// []
  • Local Library (Score:2, Informative)

    by AdiBean ( 653963 )
    Most local libraries (at least here in CT) have a small selection of audio books on CD. I have recently "discovered" audio books myself and they have completely replaced radio and music during drive time. Borrowing them from the library and ripping them to my iPod work really well. The interesting thing is that I am listening to things that I would not consider sitting down to read, and really enjoying them.

    A few hints ... use 64kbit MP3 encoding, that is plently of fidelity for the narration of a boo
    • There is an option in iTunes to rip CDs into AAC. You can then use a script to convert the file into an enhanced AAC, which is bookmarkable. Check out [] for lots of scripts for doing things of this sort.
      • Bah, forget running a script; it's as simple as renaming the file from .m4a to .m4b (although running a script scales well for more than a handful of files). I think that's all his script does anyway, but being too lazy to download it and look I'm not 100% sure.

        Also, you folks may or may not know this, but in iTunes, before ripping a CD, you can do "Advanced -> Join CD Tracks" -- that makes one long track out of the entire CD. Still wish there'd be an easy lossless way to combine multiple CDs to one trac
        • My two cents on this since I just converted the 17 disc Harry Potter to bookmarkable AAC. I used iTunes 4.9 to rip the CDs using the new Podcast "optimize for voice" preset. NOTE: Bigger files are supposed to be more skip prone [] and eat more battery life due to the way the hd & cache are handled so I kept my files to single chapters which were about 40 minutes each, encoded at 64kbps.

          I used "Join Tracks" to gather each chapter into an individual file), but a few chapters were spread over 2 consecutive

          • Wow, thanks for the great info. I'll check out all of those links. I had no idea about the battery life/skip issue. Incidentally, the link I found 3 months ago when I was learning this didn't say anything about hex editing, however I admit to not being a Mac user so I defer to your experience. I'm still running an older iTunes version, maybe it's worth the upgrade to see the new recording presets. Anyway, I'll be checking out the mp4box program tonight. Thanks a lot for the response.
  • The name says it all, [] .
    Download Robert Jordan, Jules Verne, Arthur Conan Doyle, Self help books, or parts of the Bible for free.

    The catch, 8Kb/s quality. You pay for better quality, compare this to maybe a phone call, but compared to some of those Library used books on tape...
    You can also buy full DVDs, or loaded harddrive MP3 players.
  • If you are somewhere near the greater Seattle Area, the King County Library System just started offering free audiobooks online. I think they have about 800 titles, and are pretty good quality, albeit only offered in .WMA
  • You mentioned old radio shows. I've recently gotten into them and discovered that they are quite easy to find, and some of them are a lot of fun. There are many sources, but my two main sources are Bobby's Digital OTR and The first one sells CD's of shows (20 hours of listening time on average) for $5-7. You can get a whole series, or one of the Misc disks.

    For $7.50/month, RUSC lets you browse many, many series and listen or download as you like. He doesn't post whole collections and he t

  • Could not find the link on BBC (I know it's there somewhere), but found this on CBC web site. Pretty sure it's the radio show but do double check. #1 []
  • Look at Cracker Barrel. They have a cool deal on audio books. You buy the audio cd at one CB and return it to any other CB for a full refund minus $3 or something like that per week (rental). I thought it was a cool deal and they have cracker barrels on every major highway.

  • "The finest radio drama of the 1930's was The Mercury Theatre on the Air, a show featuring the acclaimed New York drama company founded by Orson Welles and John Houseman". -- There are over 60 episodes, including the famous 1938 War of the Worlds, here []. There a lots of other "Old Time Radio" sites with dowloads, see eg here for links [].

    More current:
    Hour 25 [] has interviews with SF authors, all downloadable as MP3.
    Prairie Home Companion [], in Real format.

  • 1. About ten years ago, my job required me to make a 1,000 mile road trip about twice a year. I would just get a box and address it to the local library. Then I would check out a whole bunch of audio tapes (no CD player back then). When I got to my destination, I would just put all the tapes in the box and mail them back to the library.

    2. When I was a kid, CBS had this program called CBS Radio Mystery Theatre. This was back in the 70s -- the program received a lot of publicity at the time, as an attempt to
  • The Dawn and Drew show [], of course. You'll be laughing your ass off all the way.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Im surprised no one mentioned Sci-Fi Channels site section called 'Seeing Ear Theatre' with Fantasy and SciFi stuff for listening, granted its online listening but you can rip it and have a LOT to listen to. Ranging from humour to serious, drama to horror, campy to chilling... []

    This being /. I thought SOMEONE would have mentioned this resource.
  • There's some old style radio dramas called Imagination Theater (most recent episodes are here, [] in real media (gag)) the quality is variable, but most of the Sherlock Holmes ones are alright. They broadcast on a lot of stations in the us (station guide) [], and they have a few cds available for your buying pleasure.
  • (Kicking myself for missing this thread earlier...)

    If you're interested in science fiction or fantasy, you should check out Escape Pod []. We podcast fun short stories each week, with some flash fiction bonuses and the occasional review, and it's all free.

  • Jim Kelly is a SF writer who has recordings of some of his stories (around 10), read by him, on his site. Check them out. []

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