Ever since my family moved earlier this year (a move that added 30 minutes to my commute) I have come to appreciate the value of a great podcast.
Not only does a great podcast make you think about things differently, but it can also soothe even the most savage beast when traffic starts to build up, helping your brain retreat to a faraway place where road rage isn’t a thing.
With winter approaching, we in Michigan are going to need something to take our minds off the fact that the commutes from hell are coming.
What better way to do that than by giving you some brain candy to make that commute just a little sweeter?
Here are seven podcasts that will make your commute bearable.
Serial – This is my favorite podcast at the moment. Created by the team behind This American Life, reporter Sarah Koenig is re-investigating the murder of Hae Min Lee, a Baltimore high school student whose body was found in a park in 1999. The ex-boyfriend has been serving a life sentence ever since, but some people believe he was wrong accused. Each week is another chapter in this story, and Koenig has many assets at her disposal to tell a compelling story: court testimonies, case files, and even telephone conversations with the accused. Needless to say, Thursdays are my favorite day of the week.
The Episode You Need to Hear: All of them. Only three have been released, so go ahead and binge.
Radiolab – This podcast takes stories and science and sound and puts them all together into one cohesive storytelling platform that is music to my ears. They do full episodes and shorts, but it really doesn’t matter what they release, as long as they release something. I have yet to download a podcast that doesn’t leave me wishing for more. I promise you’ll be hooked if you give it a chance.
Episode You Need to Hear: Patient Zero. Among other things, the hosts trace the AIDS virus all the way back to the point in time when it jumped from monkey to human. Fascinating.
Nerdist – Hosted by Chris Hardwick, this podcast is a collection of free flowing conversations with a number of individuals who make up the actors, authors, comedians, TV show hosts (and even wrestlers) we know and love. I’m convinced Hardwick wants to interview every person who has ever graced our pop culture, eh, culture.
Episode You Need to Hear: Ben Folds.
Love + Radio – This was a tough one to include because it updates so infrequently. But kind of like RadioLab, they find the extraordinary in our ordinary lives. I mean, you think everyone is like you and I, but there are people out there with crazy stories to tell. Someone had to find them. That’s where this podcast comes in.
Episode You Need to Hear: Choir Boy. The story of the cyclist who became a bank robber.
The Ross Report – I’m not ashamed to say I’m a pretty big wrestling fan. Jim Ross, former wrestling announcer for World Wrestling Entertainment, interviews a wide range of individuals in the wrestling business who share the stories behind the big events in wrestling history. As a wrestling fan who really got into it in the mid-90’s, these are compelling stories, and sometimes I wish I could keep driving.
Episode You Need to Hear: The interview with Eric Bischoff gives the avid wrestling fan some great behind-the-scenes stories about the rise of professional wrestling in the 90’s and the Monday Night Wars between WCW & WWE.
On the Page – I’m not a screenwriter, nor to I aspire to be one. But this podcast on helping writers bust out of their rut provides a lot of sound advice on writing, which is something every communicator could stand to hear from time to time. I don’t listen to all of the episodes, but I’m drawn to certain ones that focus on getting over rejection, how to move past mistakes, and anything that answers questions from writers.
Episode You Need to Hear: There are 370 to choose from, but listen to the one from Josh Stolberg on how he scored some big hits in Hollywood. Pay special attention to his work ethic. *hint hint*
Welcome to Night Vale – I’ve spoken highly of this podcast before, but that doesn’t mean I have to exclude it from the list. If anything, I want to be sure I remind you all to download the series. Night Vale is a show emanating from the studio of a public radio station in a mysterious town that bears the name of the series. Regularly occurring characters and plots throughout the series give the listener a sense of familiarity with the story, no matter how strange that story really is. I can’t really explain more, or else the Sheriff’s Secret Police will get me. (Oh, and the music adds to the story.)
Episode You Need to Hear: There’s no better place to start than at the beginning. If it hits you right, you’ll walk away thinking “WTF?” Then you’ll immediately download episode #2.
Now it’s your turn: Which podcasts should we be listening to?