5 Podcasts to Listen to on Your Daily Commute

listen to podcastsLast September I left the ranks of the self employed for a full-time position as the marketing manager at a great start up. The perks? A great team, a great salary, and a chance to use my marketing chops in a more in-depth way than freelancing allows.

The downside? The commute.

I’ve since left their ranks to refocus on being self employed, but initially the position was located in Durham (they’ve since relocated to Raleigh) and I routinely used to spend 45 minutes to an hour in the car on my way into the office… and another 45 minutes to an hour in the car on my way home. And much of that was often in traffic.

Fortunately, I’ve always been a fan of podcasts and had recently stumbled upon some truly great ones… and today I want to share them for your listening pleasure.

The Business Podcast: Entrepreneur on Fire

Run by John Lee Dumas, Entrepreneur on Fire is a daily podcast interview with inspiring entrepreneurs. That’s right, I said daily.

That means it’s easy to make hitting play on EOF a habit each morning on my way into the office. And, since each podcast is roughly 30 minutes long, an episode gets me at least halfway to the office. Like all interview series, some interviewees are better than others, but in general, it’s a great way to start the morning—as Dumas frequently says himself: “You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with,” and each day I’m spending 30 minutes with him and another successful entrepreneur.

The Smart Podcast: Freakonomics Radio

Recorded by the authors of Freakonomics, Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt,Freakonomics Radio captures the same fresh way of talking about economics as the bestselling book it’s named after… that is, if you consider a book about cheating teachers, bizarre baby names, self-dealing Realtors, and crack-selling mama’s boys to also be about economics.

While only a weekly podcast, it’s one I look forward to seeing pop up in my podcast app each Thursday. It’s smart, funny, and has a way of making you see the world just a little bit differently.

The Story Telling Podcasts: Serial and NPR TED Radio Hour

Two phenomenal podcasts are tied for this label.

Serial Podcast – Serial is produced by This American Life. It’s one story, a true story, told over the course of a season. Each Thursday a new episode debuts. While it’s only on its fourth episode so far, each one leaves you waiting for more…

For their debut season host Sarah Koenig is following the story of a 17-year-old boy convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison based largely on the evidence of one witness: Adnan’s “friend” Jay, who testified that he helped Adnan bury the body.

NPR TED Radio Hour – The NPR TED Radio Hour takes the fascinating ideas, fresh approaches to old problems, and new ways to think and create that have led to the TED stage to become famous and reimagines them for radio.

Each show is centered on a common theme (some examples have included the source of happiness; power shifts; and inexplicable connections).

Its host, Guy Raz, interviews leading TED speakers on the stories behind their talks, combining audio snippets from the talks themselves and new material to weave an interesting listen, worth tuning into week after week.

The Political Podcast: Slate Political Gabfest

Of course, I can’t leave out the podcast that got me hooked on podcasts; Slate’s Political Gabfest remains one of my favorite listens each week. In fact, I often can’t wait to turn it on until I get in the car, and start it while I’m still getting ready in the morning.

The Gabfest is what you’d imagine it’d be like to sit in a bar with 3 leading journalists talking about the issues of the day as they had their after work cocktails—they share ideas, they debate, and sometimes they argue… and along the way you learn about important news stories of the day.

Honorable Mentions

The Marketing Podcast: PNR with This Old Marketing – Based around the idea that “content marketing” isn’t nearly as new as most marketers are pretending it is (with a new example shared each show), this has become my favorite marketing podcast.

The Science Podcast: NPR Science Friday (aka SciFri) – Science Friday covers news and entertaining stories about science in a way designed to appeal to science fans and us English majors alike. They’ve covered everything from octopus camouflage to cooking on Mars. In their words: “SciFri is brain fun, for curious people.”

The Startup Podcast: StartUp Podcast – Named for what it is, StartUp is a podcast from new business owner Alex Blumberg. After years in public radio covering business as a producer for This American Life and as a co-founder of Planet Money, he decided to start his own… and he’s letting us tag along in a brutally honest picture of what it takes to be the founder of a start up.

Have a favorite podcast that you listen to? Let me know in the comments!

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© 2014 Melissa Breau. All Rights Reserved.

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