Whether you’re battling Monday morning traffic on the freeway or stuck in a stuffy subway car underground, it’s easy to feel like your commute is a waste of your time. Thankfully,podcasts can take your commute from boring to entertaining and informative.
Scroll through for the best podcasts from the politically-charged to the mystical, and everything in between.
Politics: “Caliphate” by the New York Times is a gripping chronicle of the “War on Terror.”
The New York Times’ Rukmini Callimachi helps break down everything you need to know about ISIS in “Caliphate.”
Each episode discusses a different aspect of the terrorist organisation, from its recruitment process to her experience covering the topic for the publication.
Politics: “Pod Save America” by Crooked Media will get you thinking.
Behind every presidency is a team of aides and advisors, and after President Obama’s term ended, his crew took their political talents to the podcast world.
Former Obama aides Jon Favreau, Dan Pfeiffer, Jon Lovett, and Tommy Vietor make politics conversational on “Pod Save America.” The show often features a variety of guests, including Cynthia Nixon and John Legend, to provide unique perspectives on current events.
Politics: “Constitutional” by The Washington Post gives you history in small doses.
Washington Post reporter Lillian Cunningham dives deep into this podcast’s namesake document, analysing everything from the preamble to how the US understands war, taxes, and privacy.
If the Constitution went over your head during school, Cunningham’s cast helps listeners wrap their heads around one of the US’ most important framing documents.
Politics: “Up First” by NPR is a perfect roundup of the day’s news.
For those of you who don’t have time in the morning to sit down and watch the morning news over a bowl of cereal, NPR has you covered. “Up First” summarises the latest current events, so you aren’t missing anything if you can’t pick up the morning paper.
What sweetens the deal is each episodes running time: usually, they hit at just under 13 minutes, which makes them easily binge-able if you miss an episode or two.
Politics: “Hysteria” by Crooked Media analyses policies that directly affect women.
“Hysteria” brings politics and comedy together in this women-led cast that discusses how the news and political climate affect the lives of people who identify as women, from the #MeToo movement to maternity leave and changes in the Supreme Court.
Each episode hits the hour-long mark, so it’s perfect for some rush hour traffic.
Pop Culture: “Keep It!” By Crooked Media puts a cheeky spin on pop culture.
If you’re looking for a sassy spin on everything pop culture, Ira Madison III has you covered. In “Keep It!” Madison combines politics with entertainment and breaks down how the latest Hollywood drama intersects with our government and social activism.
He and a panel of Kara Brown and Louis Virtel make judgment calls on what trending topics should be canceled and which are heading in the right direction.
Pop Culture: “Thirst Aid Kit” by BuzzFeed is like a sleepover with your girlfriends.
If your commute is cutting into your girl time, turn on “Thirst Aid Kit” by BuzzFeed. Hosts Bim Adewunmi and Nichole Perkins dedicate anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes discussing the latest eye candy of the pop culture world.
Listening to “Thirst Aid Kit” is essentially the same as having a laugh with your best friends.
Pop Culture: “Still Processing” by The New York Times confronts hot-button issues.
New York Times culture desk reporters Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham teamed up for “Still Processing,” an honest and introspective podcast analysing everything from internet culture to music, with a refreshingly honest take on each topic.
Listen to this if you’re open to a unique perspective and analysis of pop culture’s most hot-button issues.
Pop Culture: “Getting Curious” with Jonathan Van Ness is refreshingly inquisitive.
In case you didn’t know, this member of the Fab Five has his own podcast, and its title is a perfect description for its vibe. The whole point of the cast centres around a conglomeration of different topics that JVN is curious about.
He interviews experts on a variety of topics, from what makes a good song to how cults are formed and popularised in society. And for those of you who stan “Queer Eye,” JVN even interviews his fellow Fab Five members.
Pop Culture: “Unhappy Hour” with Matt Bellassai is a catharsis for the easily annoyed.
If you’re a fan of BuzzFeed alum Matt Bellassai’s video series “Wine About It,” you’ll definitely enjoy his podcast “Unhappy Hour.” It feels like an extension of “Wine About It” with Bellassai’s signature deprecating humour, with a witty, judgemental take on life’s most annoying problems. If you need a good whine session, “Unhappy Hour” should be your go-to.
Crime: “My Favourite Murder” takes an interesting spin on crime.
Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark are just two girlfriends who love talking about murder and their podcast “My Favourite Murder” is a witty approach to some of the most interesting murder stories out there.
Not only do they discuss their fave crimes with each other, but they also crowdsource from their friends and fans and get the scoop on what they call “hometown murders.”
Crime: “And That’s Why We Drink” lightens up a dark topic.
Hosts and childhood friends Amanda, Kenyon, and Lucy analyse some of the goriest crimes with a glass of wine in hand, somehow turning some pretty gruesome details into a night of drinking with friends. If you’re looking for a lighthearted take on some dark material, “And That’s Why We Drink” is for you.
Crime: “Small Town Murder” is a surprisingly funny show about crime.
Forget famous murders that make it onto national news, “Small Town Murder” is the podcast you need if you’re interested in learning about the horrors of small town living.
Hosts James Pietragallo and Jimmie Whisman are hilarious comedians that somehow make small-town murder feel like high school drama but in a good way. Who wouldn’t want to know what makes a place tick?
Crime:” Up and Vanished” sheds light on the crimes that have no ending.
“Up and Vanished” has a bit of a different approach to how they tell the stories of seemingly unsolved crimes.
Instead of focusing on one crime per episode, host Payne Lindsey stretches the story of his subjects over entire seasons and goes into every detail, focusing on a specific person and their tragic story.
Season two just premiered last month and follows the story of Kristal Reisinger, who disappeared from a remote town in the mountains. Each episode engrosses you in the mysterious disappearances and is worth catching up on if you aren’t already listening.
Comedy: You never quite know what to expect with “Comedy Bang! Bang!”
“Comedy Bang Bang” is a hilarious podcast, even those who don’t gravitate toward comedy will enjoy it.
Host Scott Aukerman interviews some of the most talented and revered comics out there, but he incorporates improvisation into the interview with what has been pegged as an “open door policy,” meaning the hosts and guests go with the flow with whatever comes up as Aukerman often incorporates games and songs into the interviews.
Comedy: “2 Dope Queens” by WNYC has the perfect amount of sass.
This comedy show by Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams is downright hilarious.
They have the perfect amount of sass and wit and are unafraid to broach any and all topics in a perfectly curated live show, set in their Brooklyn studio. And if you can’t get enough with just the cast, they have a TV version of the show on HBO.
Comedy: “Congratulations” with Chris D’Elia is like your own personal comedy show.
If you’re a fan of comedian Chris D’elia but have already watched all of his Netflix specials, add “Congratulations with Chris D’Elia” to your queue.
It’s great to listen to if you’re in a grumpy mood and simultaneously need a laugh and someone to understand your annoyance.
Comedy: “Why Won’t You Date Me?” With Nicole Byer by HeadGum understands your dating woes.
It goes without saying that dating in 2018 is pretty much the worst, and no one understands your frustrations better than Nicole Byer. Her podcast “Why Won’t You Date Me?” is a hilarious chronicle of her own dating life as she connects her own struggles to the bigger issues within the dating world.
Byer’s personality is loud, outgoing, and wildly entertaining, and you’ll be cracking up throughout the entire episode.
Human Interest: “Serial” by “This American Life” is newsworthy hit to keep tabs on.
Remember when Sarah Koenig and “Serial” blew up with popularity when the first season hit in 2014? The inaugural series told the story of Adnan Syed, who was sentenced to life in prison at just 17 years old.
The show quickly gained popularity and premiered the second season just a year later with the story of disgraced military veteran Bowe Bergdahl. Season three came out on September 20. Luckily, the seasons’ stories aren’t tied together, so you don’t need to know the plots of the first two seasons to enjoy the new one.
Human Interest: “Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard” interviews all your favourite celebrities.
As it turns out, Dax Shepard could have a side gig as a talk show host. His podcast “Armchair Expert” features the actor in the interviewer’s chair as he brings in friends, pop culture icons, and people he looks up to for an in-depth interview about their careers, personal lives, and everything in between.
The episodes are pretty long, often capping at anywhere from 90 minutes to almost two hours, so we suggest breaking up each episode between your morning and afternoon commutes.
Human Interest: “This Is Actually Happening” tells stories you didn’t know you needed to hear.
If you need a break from the everyday pop culture and politics worlds, or even if you want a little perspective on your own life, step into the almost unbelievable universe of “This Is Actually Happening.”
This podcast tells the life-altering stories of regular people that are almost too crazy to be true. In one episode, a subject shares her story of surviving genocide. In another, a murderer shows up at someone’s doorstep – literally. The show actually answers the questions “Did this actually happen?” Spoiler: the answer is yes.
Human Interest: “Modern Love” by WBUR and The New York Times combines your favourite actors with the best love stories.
If you’re a fan of the “Modern Love” column in The New York Times, the podcast of the same name takes it to a whole new level. It’s still the same stories you know and love (pun intended), but WBUR enlists the help of some of Hollywood’s greatest actors to tell a story of their choosing. If you’ve ever wanted Jake Gyllenhaal to read a love letter in your ear, we highly recommend you give this podcast a try.
Special Interest: “Potterless” is the best podcast for book lovers everywhere.
For all of our Potterheads out there, you haven’t lived your best magical life if you haven’t listened to this hilarious podcast from Mike Schubert. As a 25-year-old man, Schubert has somehow gone his entire life without reading the “Harry Potter” series, and his “Potterless” podcast is dedicated to his first foray into Hogwarts.
In each episode, he reads through the series for the first time and analyses the Potter universe with a comedic spin and dedicated guests.
Special Interest: “Revisionist History” gives history nerds a new perspective on events past.
What if everything you learned about in history class wasn’t the whole story? That’s the question “Revisionist History” answers as host Malcolm Gladwell looks back on some of the most misunderstood events in our past.
He enlists the help of some of the most accomplished experts out there to break down topics that often go overlooked, like Elvis’ parapraxis in its latest episode or the repercussions of one of the biggest court cases in the Supreme Court’s history.
Special Interest: “Lights Camera Barstool” by Barstool Sports is perfect for cinephiles.
Movie buffs rejoice – “Lights Camera Barstool” is the answer to your cinephile needs. From the creators of Barstool Sports, “Lights Camera Barstool” is a cultural review show that analyses the latest movie news, movie releases, casting announcements, and everything in between.
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