Five Podcasts Perfect For Commuting

June 03, 2013 · By Sloane Davidson, Founder and CEO, Hello Neighbor

I'm now a regular podcast listener again. If I'm behind the times, I don't care.

The last time I was really into podcasts was when I lived in LA. I shared a dog and would walk the dog at night and listen to the Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders podcast from Stanford all around Santa Monica. It was heavenly. That was 2008. A lot of time has passed.

For me, I need to get into the right mindset to listen to podcasts. I need some uninterrupted time alone where I can just listen. I tried while cooking but it just doesn't work, I need to concentrate on the task at hand. I've also tried for short commutes - the past two years I commuted 15 minutes each way walking - it just wasn't quite enough. In many senses, I know that is a good thing.

Now with my new job, I commute an easy 30-45 minutes each way. Don't cry for me though! It's part subway but mostly I still walk and I do most of that walk on The High Line so it's a pretty magical part of my day. However, I wanted something to pass the time. Originally I was going to get into audio books (and hey I still might!) but then I stumbled upon podcasts and thought that sounded like a good place to start. Now it's two months later and I'm happy as a clam. Music has a time and place but podcasts, audio learning and listening, is just a fantastic way to pass the time.

To commemorate my new commute and this new found way to experience it, I'm sharing five of my favorite podcasts below. I have a rotation of about 10 right now and I want to set the record straight that I still love the ETL from Stanford. Now, I also mix it up. I shared the "About" and my favorite episodes below to get you started too - because it's never too late to find a new favorite thing.

Without further ado...

1) This American Life

This American Life is a weekly public radio show broadcast on more than 500 stations to about 1.8 million listeners. It is produced by Chicago Public Media, distributed by Public Radio International, and has won all of the major broadcasting awards. It is also often the most popular podcast in the country, with around 850,000 people downloading each week. From 2006-2008, we produced a television version of This American Life on the Showtime network, which won three Emmys. We're also the co-producers, with NPR News, of the economics podcast and blog Planet Money. And a half dozen stories from the radio show are being developed into films.

Sloane's Picks: Harper High School Part 1 & Part 2. They were so good, so fully of journalistic integrity and high-quality storytelling that I immediately made a donation on the website to support This American Life the moment they finished. True story.

2) Here's The Thing

In WNYC’s new podcast series, award-winning actor Alec Baldwin gives the listener unique entrée into the lives of artists, policy makers and performers. Alec sidesteps the predictable by taking listeners inside the dressing rooms, apartments, and offices of people such as comedian Chris Rock, political strategist Ed Rollins and Oscar winner Michael Douglas.

Sloane's Picks: So many are so good, it's hard to choose! My favorites are ones with classic people really letting their hair down or being utterly surprised with newer talent at how good the conversation flows and how fascinated I am to learn more. Absolute favorites are episodes with Billy Joel, Michael Douglas, Lena Dunham, Judd Apatow, Brian Williams and Andrew McCarthy.

3) The Bowery Boys

The Bowery Boys is a resource of entertainment and information for native New Yorkers, former New Yorkers, tourists and those who have never been here. Essentially, we're just writing about things that we find really cool or interesting about our city. There are a great many other websites that provide far greater depth on these subjects and we greatly encourage you to peruse them for more information. As reporters of history, hopefully something we say or write sparks you to look further into the various places and people of New York City. The more people become interested in the city's past, the less likely it is to be bulldozed.

Sloane's Picks: Birth of the NYC subway, Expansion Into Five Bouroughs, Bellevue Hospital...just to name a few. Again too many to choose from and I'm just getting started!

4) The Moth

The Moth is an acclaimed not-for-profit organization dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. It is a celebration of both the raconteur, who breathes fire into true tales of ordinary life, and the storytelling novice, who has lived through something extraordinary and yearns to share it. At the center of each performance is, of course, the story – and The Moth’s directors work with each storyteller to find, shape and present it. Since its launch in 1997, The Moth has presented thousands of stories, told live and without notes, to standing-room-only crowds worldwide. Moth shows are renowned for the great range of human experience they showcase. Each show starts with a theme, and the storytellers explore it, often in unexpected ways. Since each story is true and every voice authentic, the shows dance between documentary and theater, creating a unique, intimate, and often enlightening experience for the audience. Moth stories dissolve socio-economic barriers, expose vulnerabilities, and quietly suggest ways to overcome challenges and see with new eyes.

Sloane's Picks: Anything to do with Summer Camp, Mother Teresa, and all of the roundups. They are the best!

5) Dinner Party Download

Welcome to The Dinner Party Download - an hour-long celebration of culture, food, and conversation designed to help you dazzle your friends at this weekend’s get-together. In every episode you’ll learn a joke…bone up on an odd bit of history and then wash it down with a themed cocktail…meet an artist of note (say, Spike Lee or Willie Nelson)…learn the answers to your burning etiquette questions…savor an emerging food trend…and hear your new favorite song. Plus, unconventional wisdom from hosts Rico Gagliano and Brendan Francis Newnam.

Sloane's Picks: This is hard because they're all so different and have a lot of good information. I have to punt and say just dive in!

There you go, my five favorite podcasts for commuting! If you have any that you love, let me know, I'm always on the lookout.