5 Podcasts to Ease Your Daily Commute
Nothing ruins a day faster than staring out into a mosaic of bumper stickers while trying to navigate the labyrinthine network that is rush hour traffic. It's this kind of learned helplessness on the road that makes you want to zip line through concrete or part the sea of cars like in Bruce Almighty, except you know that you have no other choice but to sit there and take it. Morning radio won't save you either, not with the mechanical shuffling of ad time and commentary.
We've all been there. Here are a few listening pleasures to help un-choke your morning, or at least stop you from banging your head against the wheel.
If there's any classic that should be in every listener's playlist, it's Radiolab, weaving eye-opening journalism and scientific stories told in a soothing way. Affable hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich poke holes into the questions that plague us most, wrapped up in an hour-long enterprise that includes subjects from sleep, the conservation of endangered animal species, to the loneliness of the goalkeeper. Get a headstart with soundbites that you can mouth off to your co-workers or your friends at a party without anyone knowing where you got them from.
A podcast on, you guessed it, cool jobs. For an hour or less, Mary H.K. Choi talks to mega-talented people who love what they do for a living and needles them about the most rewarding aspects of their careers. With professions ranging from the style editors of a magazine to the president of a concierge start-up that will entertain requests such as, "Find someone to train me like Jason Bourne," this podcast rubs elbows with the likes of Eddie Huang, author of the memoir-turned-television series Fresh Off the Boat; Judnick Mayard, program director of Kinfolk; and Axel Alonso, editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics.
Every week, Mark Gagliardi and Hal Lublin of Drunk History and Welcome to Night Vale fame choose a dumb, polarizing issue that listeners worry about and settle the argument once and for all. Why are we supposed to care about this exactly? Because choosing between creamy or crunchy peanut butter is a matter of life and death, people. With the fate of the world resting on the balance, or so the theme song thinks, no topic is too mundane for Mark and Hal to sift through, debate, and proselytize as they decide Best James Bond, Best Star Wars Film, Movies at Home vs. At the Theater, Krispy Kreme or Dunkin' Donuts, Who's the Best Batman, Best Door—you get the idea. Once the matter has been decided, it doesn't matter what you think; their word is law.
Yes, but, instead of curling in a shameful ball of mortification like any rational human being would, Jamie Morton called his friends over and made a laugh trip out of it. All of this wouldn't have been possible without his father, a sixty-year-old man whose retirement plan was to pen an erotic novel under the alias "Rocky Flintstone" and sell it on Amazon as Belinda Blinked, a chronicle of the anatomically impossible and brain-bleaching escapades of Belinda Blumenthal, who works for a pots and pans company. (You wouldn't expect that detail to come up often, but it surprisingly does.) Not one for public transport.
Since this year is looking increasingly bleak and shows no sign of ending soon, this is the perfect remedy for those moments when you've seen something you really like and you don't have the energy to mull over what it means, so you want someone else to talk about it. We don't always have the time of day to plow through a million thinkpieces on Facebook for an opinion, so Linda Holmes and her chipper, equally friendly cohort of reviewers from National Public Radio come together to bring us this weekly round-table conversation about books, television, music, film, and the things that are making them—and by extension, us—happy this week.