It's great to resolve for the New Year to hit the gym and get into shape. But what do you use to combat the mind-numbing boredom of the treadmill or the soul-deadening tedium of the elliptical machine?
I don't mean to get all Kierkegaardian, but podcasts can help to fill the dark void. Load up your favorite MP3 player with some high-caliber audio and the miles will pass less painfully.
Here is a list of our 10 favorite national sports podcasts. Some are daily, some are weekly, all can be found in the iTunes store and are free to download.
1. The Dan Patrick Show. Patrick's program has radio outlets in Rochester and Syracuse, but not in the Queen City. Patrick is personable and has a great selection of guests. In the past month he has talked to Jim Boeheim, R.A. Dickey, John Elway, Johnny Manziel, Joe Montana, Adam Sandler, Jason Whitlock and Michael Wilbon, among others.
2. Bill Simmons' B.S. Report. Simmons is the ESPN behemoth who is the editor of Grantland.com, executive producer of the network's 30 for 30 documentary series, and this season joined the studio team for ABC and ESPN's NBA Countdown show. Some of the regular guests on his podcast include Adam Carolla, Chuck Klosterman, his renowned Cousin Sal and Seth Meyers. (He had me at Adam Carolla.)
3. Jeremy Schaap's “The Sporting Life.” Chicago media blogger Ed Sherman calls Schaap's ESPN Radio show the sports equivalent of National Public Radio's “Fresh Air.” Schaap does long-form narrative pieces along with interviews and commentary segments.
4. Pardon the Interruption. Perhaps you've heard of it? Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon mix it up for about 20 minutes daily, covering the sports topics du jour.
5. The Rich Eisen Podcast. Mr. NFL Network has had everyone who is anyone in football on his show, released every Tuesday. Eisen is such a genial guy, he makes the Dalai Lama seem cranky by comparison.
6. Basketball Jones. A couple of hoops fanatics named J.E. Skeets and Tas Melas, who met at Ryerson University in Toronto, have turned their love of basketball into media careers. Their podcast, which grew out of their blog of the same name, is part of the Canadian sports network The Score. If you're a hoops fan, this one will grow on you.
7. Slate's Hang Up and Listen. This show has a public-radio feel to it that's not for everybody, but it can also be a refreshing departure from the more mainstream sports shows that tend to have many of the same guests. Slate Sports Editor Josh Levin, author Stefan Fatsis and NPR sports reporter Mike Pesca kick around the week's most interesting topics.
8. Jason Whitlock Podcast. The one-man opinion machine, who writes for Fox Sports and appears on Fox Sports Radio, does his thing on a weekly podcast. Whitlock lands all sorts of lively guests, which this year have included David Simon (creator of “The Wire”), Isiah Thomas, John Feinstein, Jackie MacMullan, Jeff Pearlman, and A.J. Daulerio of Deadspin.
9. Inside Sports Illustrated with Richard Deitsch. Deitsch is a University at Buffalo graduate who on Mondays talks to various Sports Illustrated staff writers and editors for insights into the stories they are working on. His most recent show featured the great writer Gary Smith talking about his recent SI piece on R.A. Dickey, Kayla Harrison and their experiences as victims of sexual abuse.
10. Commentaries from Frank Deford on NPR's Morning Edition. The former Sports Illustrated great is literate and urbane, mixing social commentary with observations about the games people play. His commentaries are brief and to the point, a bit reminiscent of old school broadcasters such as Jack Whitaker or the late Dick Schaap.
• Jim Rome's radio show on Wednesday gets a new host company, moving to CBS Sports Radio. That won't mean much to WGR 550 listeners, who will find Rome there in the same noon-to-3 p.m. time slot.
• The Bills-Jets local TV blackout today means no Marv Albert and Rich Gannon for us, just radio coverage in Western New York. Of course, there might be some illegal TV streams on the Internet, but we wouldn't know anything about that.
• According to the league, NFL games accounted for 29 of the 30 most-watched TV shows since Labor Day. The only non-football event that made the top 30 in national ratings was the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. (No Bills game broke into the top 30.) The year's highest-rated game was the Redskins versus the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, drawing an estimated 28.7 million viewers on Fox. Those two teams meet again tonight in the game that was “flexed” into NBC's Sunday Night Football.