Swedish-born and Massachusetts-based artist Ravi Jain has developed several websites and is not shy when it comes to uploading his life to the blogosphere. In addition to his more traditional text blog and another dedicated entirely to his exploits as a marathon hopeful, DriveTime came about in October 2005 as a way of varying the otherwise lost time of his daily commute in and around Boston. Jain has turned his various automobiles into low-budget studios (his Nissan is known as “Studio N,” his Audi is “Studio A,” and so on) in which he hosts this informative talk show with local artists and personalities.
None of the episodes on DriveTime run longer than a few minutes and almost all feature Ravi’s wife and co-host, Sonia. She was introduced in the second episode and sits in the backseat while Jain mans the wheel and their cavalcade of guests ride shotgun.
The pair are laidback, funny, and engaging hosts, working their magic on artists, collective creators, organization directors, people who wear wigs, and anyone else interesting enough to sit in a car and chat about their work and lives for a while. Before the hosts pick up their guests, there’s always time for a quick update on their own lives, professional and personal. (At one point, Ravi and Sonia announced they had a mouse problem, so a longtime viewer let them borrow his two cats for two days to remedy the problem, with little success.) Writers and humorists are popular, as the car provides limited space for props. Viewers can watch as Jain settles into his role of talk-show host, grows a beard, and practices safe driving techniques.
There is some natural talent on display here, and that’s buttressed by Jain’s determination to vary the program as much as its limited nature allows. Check out RideTime, in which he and Sonia ride a tandem bike, following the camera, with their guests on the left, maintaining the car-like feeling while avoiding gas prices. It’s a great twist.