It’s time to stop being the type of commuter who spends the entire train journey with your eyes fixed to your phone screen, pumping dopamine into your brain with each scroll of the thumb. Although your data plan might allow you to catch up on that episode of Antiques Roadshow that you missed last night, listening to a podcast is a more energising start to the day for your brain. Below are five podcasts that will turn your daily commute from a miserable period of boredom into your new happy hour.
If you want knowledge: Stuff You Should Know
One of the best things about this popular podcast by two of the guys from HowStuffWorks.Com is that, out of around a thousand episodes (so far), there’s something to interest everyone. There is no theme binding all the topics other than that each podcast will leave you a more well-rounded member of society who can actually give an answer to those deep and meaningful 2.a.m. rhetorical questions – ‘Guys, why do men have nipples?’
From episodes dedicated to biology, to crash-courses in physics (‘How boomerangs work’), theoretical concepts (‘what exactly is stoicism?’), the history of civilizations (Why did Easter Island’s civilization collapse?’) and so much more, you’ll be a walking encyclopaedia if you become a regular listener. The likeable hosts Josh and Chuck set a conversational tone that will make you feel like you’re learning with a couple of friends. At an average length of 50-ish minutes, SYSK episodes are the perfect length to tie you over from your front door to your office floor.
If you want a laugh: Do Go On
If you like to set a more light-hearted tone for your morning bus ride, Do Go On will kick off your day with a dose of super casual, dry Aussie conversational humour. Comedian hosts Matt Stewart, Jess Perkins and Dave Warneke take turns in researching a random topic selected by listeners, and attempt to inform the other two hosts of their findings. Along the way they constantly get caught up in hilarious tangents and banter. If you’re worried about your co-commuters questioning your sanity as you giggle to yourself, this might be a podcast to avoid.
If you want to be on the edge of your seat: S-Town
If you got hooked on Serial a few years back, you’ll be helpless to resist this seven-part series from the same producers, and those of This American Life. What starts off as a piece of investigative journalism into corruption and backward ways of a small town in America’s deep south (dubbed “Shit Town” by one of its eccentric residents) morphs into something…well…different. Like many of the best narrative podcasts, it’s difficult to describe without giving much away. It’s a motley crew of intimate investigative journalism, colourful characters and deep human insights that will take you to another place entirely.
If you want a chat with fascinating people: Conversations with Richard Fidler
One of the most engaging ways to learn is to listen to lessons learned by people whose life experiences are vastly different to your own. Conversations, which is aired on ABC radio, is an eclectic curation of stories from people from a variety of backgrounds. You might never have heard of many of the people who are interviewed, but you’re almost guaranteed to want to know more about them by the time the conversation wraps up. With each conversation being completely stand-alone, you can amuse yourself with a discussion of wordplay and riddles one day (There were three men in a boat with four cigarettes and no matches. How did they manage to smoke?), and plunge into Australia’s climate wars the next. The amiable host, Richard Fidler, is a master at steering the conversation to squeeze the most interesting and intriguing details out of his guests.
If you want political drama: Terms
This one’s for political-drama junkies and House Of Cards binge-watchers. The premise of the narrative is a shocking electoral upset that sees the most controversial Republican candidate in US history elected as the next POTUS. Sound familiar? Well, supposedly the idea for the narrative came to the creator more than a decade ago and its modern day parallels are more coincidental than planned. Plug your earphones in and join the outgoing president as he embarks on a smoke and mirrors game in an effort to stop President-elect Dunwalke from undoing eight years of progress.