27 Podcasts For The Commuter In You
Bilingual, True Crime, Storytelling, and more...
Ok, no one ever reads introductions in their eagerness to get to the good stuff so I'll keep it short and sweet. If you don't love podcasts, it's because you 1. haven't heard one, or 2. haven't heard the RIGHT one. So allow me to introduce you to a few and maybe you'll get hooked on just one and love me forever. Just maybe.
Bilingual, Latinex & Spanish Podcasts
1. Bag Ladiez
Bag ladiez is a total girl podcast. I could see myself listening to it with my guy for about 4 minutes before he turned it off and put on his (very similar) "Rich Friend" podcast- also recommended. Bag Ladiez is a podcast where two afro-latinex women talk about pop culture, sexism (like their episode "Sexism...no me gusta," life as a brown person in the U.S., all kinds of struggles and lots of laughs.
Their tag line? Welcome to bag ladies where we help you help us help you with your baggage, and boy, are they right.
Code switch is an NPR Podcast about race, gender and so much more. Hosts Gene Demby (be still my heart) and Shereen Marisol Meraji talk about all kinds of topics, but Spanish (and Latin American immigrant issues) are popular topics lately- especially under the current administration. They won't always touch on or include Spanish but since Meraji is half Puerto Rican, it's a common thread they come back to. They recently posted a special all in Spanish with an interview with a woman seeking refuge from deportation at a local church. Hear the Original Episode Here.
An amazing podcast picked up recently by NPR, but existing long before that, Radio Ambulante tells great stories about Latin America in Spanish. From Argentina to Chile, Colombia to Mexico, the stories are diverse, enticing, and truly shed a new light on the stories being told on mainstream radio. Not sure where to start? Try "El Otro El Mismo" the story of a bizarre coincidence that goes beyond just having a "tocayo."
4. Latino USA
Latino USA was the NPR Radio Ambulante before Radio Ambulante was Radio Ambulante. It's the English, journalistic, politically charged version of the aforementioned podcasts and touches on matters that impact the Latin American Immigrant community in the United States. Host, Maria Hinojosa is a badass spokeswoman, journalist and one of my personal heroes.
TRUE CRIME PODCASTS
This podcast is nothing short of brilliant. Technically, Serial has two seasons. But really, the first was a home-run and was really hard to follow up (sorry Season two!) So listen to season one and try not to let your home/work/school life fall to pieces as you desperately search for answers with Chicago Public Radio host Sarah Koenig about the murder of Hae Min Lee and the sentencing and alibi of Adnan Sayed.
See Celebrities reaction to Serial here.
Stranglers is a podcast about, well, stranglers. The Boston strangler(s) to be exact. After a series of stranglings happened over a number of years in the Boston area, it started to look like the work of a serial killer. But...was it one man? I'll admit this one was not the greatest to listen to while falling asleep, but it was absolutely fascinating.
6. In the Dark
The story of the kidnapping and murder of Jacob Wetterling, the mistakes made by law enforcement and the confession that shook an entire town more than twenty years after these events happened. A Serial-style podcast that takes you step by step through rural Minnesota, a pedophile at large, and the reasons why he got away with it for so long.
The Criminal Podcast is one of my favorites, (I even applied to be their intern almost a year ago!) It is produced in Durham, North Carolina and talks about true and unique criminal cases. They even have illustrations for every episode (see here). Host Phoebe Judge has an enchanting voice and the stories are truly particular. I recommend Episode 40: Pappy, about Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon, a controversial liquor that's made more than one break the law to get their hands on it.
Comedy and Murder... what?
If anyone knows me at all, they know I am absolutely obsessed with this podcast. I listen to it the minute it comes into my Podcast feed, relisten to it on commutes and before bed and talk about it endlessly. Hosts Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark are the only people that can get away with a Comedy Murder Podcast and slay. They talk about famous and lesser known murders around the United States, Australia, New Zealand, England, and France, to name a few, all while talking about their own lives, their cats/dogs and sound technician turned protagonistic assistant Steven Ray Morris.
At the end of each episode, they close with the now infamous line, Stay sexy, and don't get murdered.
My life goal, ladies.
Podcasts About Colombia
The only podcast on this list that is written, produced, and recorded in Colombia. Colombia Calling is hosted by Richard McColl, Anglo-Canadian journalist with a wonderful British accent and a keen eye for politics/culture and goings-on in Colombia. Richard has had a variety of guests on this podcast and talks about matters like the Peace Treaty, Cacao, Dining out in Bogotá and so much more. Don't know where to start? Try #86:"The truth about being an entrepreneur in Colombia" or #73:"I survived a crocodile attack with Brian Rea"
10. Snap Judgement
Storytelling with a beat.
True, and not so true, stories from real people with a background track that makes you wonder if you're listening to a story or a dope tune. These guys don't fuck around when it comes to delivering the very best stories in the very best way. Host Glynn Washington is everything I want to be when I grow up and starts out every episode- every week- with his very own short story.
11. The Truth
The Truth is like an audio movie. It has a variety of stories, each having nothing to do with the previous or the next, but all equally enchanting and enticing. My favorite? Can you help find my mom?, a striking story with a twist.
12. Modern Love
Modern Love the podcast is the audio version of the New York Times Modern Love Column, but in each episode, a well-known actor recites the piece with emotion and conviction. These stories come to life as actors pause in the perfect moments, lead you perfectly into the next sentence and give you a perfect finish to the story. Listen to any of them, they're great commuting material.
A hilarious throwback podcast to the naiveté of adolescence when braces, bad skin and crushes were documented into journals with tiny locks on them (or was that just my diary?) This podcast is always live, always hilarious and always real diaries from real people read on stage for a crowd. The one that got me hooked? "Amigo of the year."
14. Love and Radio
by Radiotopia, produced interviews with a variety of topics. This is a bit of an indescribable podcast. From Polyamory to the life of a woman who married a Colombian drug lord, these stories are definitely worth the listen.
One of my dreams is to perform at a Moth event. I know, that's very unoriginal as a writer/wannabe storyteller, but these events are truly striking. Performers must tell their story in front of a live audience with no notes and be as engaging, funny, compelling as possible, and every single one of these episodes features 2-3 performers that nail it every time.
I recently started listening to this addictive docu-drama that is truly stranger than fiction. It follows the investigation into the disappearance of host Carly Parker's best friend after she began playing an eerie online game called Rabbits. Following her best friend's footsteps, Carly hopes to dive in enough to find her without finding herself in too much danger in the process.
Shit-Town, Alabama ain't no joke. An investigative story by Brian Reed, of This American Life, who worked on this story for over three years. What starts out as an investigation into an alleged murder (making it sound more like true crime than story telling) quickly turns into something deeper and more meaningful than anyone, host, producer, or protagonist could have imagined.
Podcasts About The Struggle
There's no other way to put it, these podcasts are straight up about the struggle of being a human.
Megan Tan's struggle searching to become a radio producer, adulting, and living life as a millennial. This podcast spoke to me because the host is so real about her feelings of self-doubt, her goals, and her search for a way to make things happen for herself. I love her nerdy laugh, her ability to be sincere and show the world her relationship, her fears, and everything else that makes her just like every one of her listeners.
How are you? Well, "terrible, thanks for asking." A podcast about when you're not okay, Nora McInerny talks about the reality of loss, grief, anxiety, depression, with a realness that I didn't think was possible to enjoy on a podcast. With moments of reminiscence, laughter, nostalgia and hope, this podcast is oddly reassuring that yeah, it's not okay right now. But it will be.
20. How I built this
How I built this is the entrepreneurship podcasts interviewing real entrepreneurs who made it big. Great stories from Manoj Bhargava to Kendra Scott, Kate Spade, Ivon Chouldnard of Patagonia and many, many more. I haven't been super hooked on it, but I recommended it to my guy and he really enjoyed hearing these types of experiences.
Fun Fact Podcasts
The Hidden Brain Podcast is all about what lies behind our behaviors. Host Shakar Vendantam threads through theories, experiments and general conceptions of human behavior, speaking with specialists and researchers. One of my favorite episodes? "Grit"
Another podcast about human behavior, they describe it as "a podcast about the invisible forces that control human behavior" I'm clearly really into behavioral studies, but seriously guys, these chicks are truly awesome and so smart. My favorite episode? "The Secret Emotional Life of Clothes"
23. 99% Invisible
It's no secret why 99 p.i. is recorded at an architecture firm in "beautiful, downtown Oakland, California." The podcast focuses mainly on architecture and its influence on history, culture and even politics. Roman Mars has the most incredible voice and is top 5 when it comes to bedtime podcasts.
All the fun facts, all the research, all the intricate ways things work. Science, Philosophy, Human Experience and omg, that intro. I feel a million times smarter every time I listen to this and isn't that reason enough to listen to it? I adore the hosts and was super happy when Jad Abumrad had a short cameo in the Millennial podcast. Also, try their spin-off "More Perfect" about the Supreme Court and its history and immense influence on the everyday lives of the American people.
Who doesn't love Malcolm Gladwell? I myself couldn't stop from scream-whispering "The Tipping Point!" to close ones for months after reading that book. He's a brilliant speaker, an impressive writer and, overall, a flawless storyteller. His podcast, Revisionist History reinterprets something from the past, takes a second glance and "Malcolm Gladwells" it. Can that be a verb from now on? I'll allow it.
26. Note to Self
The tech show about being human
From apps for sexuality to privacy policies and more, this tech show is relevant to everyone that has any sort of electronic device. It's all about preserving your humanity in the age of all things digital.
I'll admit I just started listening to this one recently but found that it was really on point, the hosts were knowledgeble and had great, differing input that pushed the discussion and made me laugh. I listened to the episode about Drake's "More Life" album and found myself eager to listen to the one on "The Return of Dave Chappelle and CHIPS". What can I say? I'm a child of my time.
27. Another Round
Queens of Buzzfeed Tracy Clayton and Heben Nigatu talk to a variety of guests from fuckin Lin-Manuel Miranda (bae) to Kelly Rowland, Bim Adewunmi and more about all the things starting with: "What do you do and why?" and constantly figuring out ways to *cue music* stay woke. These girls go hard on race, gender and current events.
Well, that was more than I expected to list out in one sitting! Don't see your favorite podcast on here? Tweet or comment on the FB post to let me know your personal faves and I'll add them to my happily never ending list.
Feature Photo by Cuchialo.