In days of yore, when working from home was but a dream, almost everyone had to travel to their job. This would have been tolerable, except the only entertainment available was whatever morning zoo trash was being pumped out on terrestrial radio. It was a wasteland of zany DJs all trying to outdo one another with all manner of tomfoolery. These days, we’re more refined and able to listen to anything we care to download. So, if you’re one of those who still physically goes to work each day, we’ve got 10 of the best podcasts worth listening to on your morning commute.
The Daily Zeitgeist
You can get your news and learn about the current state of the world from talking heads in natty suits. But they’re barely keeping up. The Daily Zeitgeist covers what is going on in the world based on what is trending, because the internet is all that matters. This isn’t just news nor opinion, but also a load of frolicsome humor that feels like a fun and inclusive chat with a pair of surprisingly well-read frat brothers. Hosts Jack and Miles walk the line between informative and entertaining so well, it’s clear Johnny Cash was talking about them. Armed with only this podcast, you’ll never be lost during chatter around the office steam-driven espresso machine.
NPR sometimes gets a bad rap for being boring. True, Consider This does have soft-spoken hosts who could use a little more jazz and pep in their delivery, but the goal here isn’t shock and awe. Rather, it’s to provide directed insight into a single subject. In less than fifteen minutes per episode, you’ll gain expertise on the most controversial topics affecting the world today. More importantly, it provides an original point of view, so that you’re never following the herd. Consider This is the cure for mainstream myopia and can help pry open your mind into not just knowing more, but thinking in a new way.
Bill Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast
It’s wicked haaard for most of us to hear a Bostonian accent for more than a couple of seconds. But, when it’s comedian Bill Burr on the mic, it’s actually harder not to listen. Sometimes he’s fat-shaming, sometimes promoting his own dystopian agenda, sometimes providing thoughtful advice to listeners, and always suggesting you go fornicate with yourself. Somehow this grab bag creates a feeling of personal dialog. It’s like listening to your maybe tipsy, acerbic uncle. Sure, mom and pop say he’s a bad influence, but he told you the truth about Santa. Perhaps that is why you’re disillusioned, jaded, and overspending on therapy, but at least he was honest.
Sciencing stuff is hard. Most of us don’t have hours out of the day to spend studying how cats think or why women are colder. And if we did, we’d be mixing 7-Up and Hennessy instead. Curiosity answers both our burning questions, sometimes literally when it comes to the heat suddenly impacting our groin, and things we didn’t know we wanted to know. Each episode is short, yet offers information in rapid fire so that you can feel like a professor of multiple strange topics before you hit the office parking lot.
This Day In History Class
Most of the podcasts on this list are brief, so that you can get a full episode between home and job. This Day in History Class is one of the slimmest pickings of them all. In about ten minutes, you’ll learn about something that happened on that date in the past. Even better, most of these events have impacts that resonate into the modern era, so it’s never useless information only good for beating Susan from accounting on trivia night. You’ll be able to tell people in your most condescending, professorial tone all about racial integration, military in the Antarctic, and that time Paris outlawed women in pants.
Information and entertainment are great, but you can’t live on a steady diet of knowledge and yuks. You need to feed your mental health, and get a little inspiration for the day as well. Otherwise, irishing up your coffee might just look a little too appealing. Host Laura Vanderkam has four children, so she has a PhD in stress and a black belt in pressure. With each tiny little episode of Before Breakfast, she throws out nuggets of hope, wisdom, incentive, or merely kind thoughts. It’s like a gentle little massage for your weary brain to loosen up before hours of pointless meetings that should have been emails drain your life force.
TED Talks Daily
The concept here is simple. Take short lectures on technology, education, and design and put them in a podcast form. TED talks were made for the human attention span, so they’re always under 20 minutes, making them perfect for drive time. Experts from all manner of fields will give you the straight dope on everything that impacts your world. You might not have time for college, but you still want your date to believe you have that graduate degree. Let TED Talks give you the information you need without the tuition cost.
Pop Culture Happy Hour
Forget news and current events. Only politicians need to know what’s happening in the world, and even they just make that up half the time. What really matters is what is worthy of binge watching tonight, what new albums are dropping, and whether you should bother with any of the movies out right now. In the Pop Culture Happy Hour, you’ll get a quick breakdown of what’s good, what’s not, and where you should be putting your entertainment dollar. The goal here is always to make things a little more fun, so escapism is on order with every episode.
The Tim Ferriss Show
Tim Ferriss skyrocketed to stardom with his book “The 4-Hour Workweek.” His podcast sometimes expands upon the productivity theme in his books, but it’s more geared toward finding out what makes people successful. Whether you consider Ferriss a guru, or merely another pretender in the cult of personality, he does bring in some truly heavy hitters from the lands of business, celebrity, finance, and entrepreneurial psychology. Just know that you’ll need quite a few trips to plow through the lengthy episodes, or need to be commuting back and forth from the Arctic circle.
The Accidental Creative
Creativity is a mercurial spirit that seems to bless some people, while leaving others without a desire to make much of anything. The goal of The Accidental Creative is to help anyone with an idea to birth it, squalling, into the world. Using a string of guests who are all creative operators, along with the insights of host Todd Henry, the podcast talks about finding inspiration, building upon it, and transforming a loose firing of brain cells into a worthy construct. It’s meant to help anyone find more satisfaction and fulfillment in whatever they do, as well as take more pride in their work, even when they’re just cleaning latrines.