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The 17 Best Podcasts To Make Even The Most Tedious Of Commutes Enjoyable

Image by: Siddharth Bhogra

Simply 17 of the most entertaining and educational arts and culture, music, film, true crime, comedy, news and political podcasts to make your commute bearable.

Let’s face it, commuting is not fun. If it’s not a delayed train that you’re contending with, it’s incessant man-spreading, jam-packed train carriages and someone elbowing you in the face, getting too familiar with your fellow commuters’ loud phone calls or someone accidentally stepped on your toe in heels. 

With sizeable chunks of our days being spent getting to and from work - on average just under an hour for most Brits, 81 minutes in London and two hours or more for almost 4 million of us - that time needn't be spent just idly scrolling Twitter, mentally cursing the person hogging the arm rest or nursing that sore toe. Instead it’s time to take back that time for yourself - a time to be entertained and educated thanks to every commuter’s best friend, the humble podcast.

Once upon a time, podcasting was an exciting new medium. It was radio’s younger, cooler, Millennial cousin; an alternative choice for our busy modern lives and those on-the-go, with little time to read or watch TV. Now, thanks to the runaway successes of viral series like true crime podcast Serial, which broke records as the most downloaded podcast when it debuted in 2014, they’ve gone mainstream. There are currently 800,000 active podcasts worldwide and around 7.1 million people in the UK alone listen to podcasts each week. Choices range from repeated radio shows to original content; shows are produced by both mainstream media (the New York Times’, BBC’s and Guardian’s podcasts regularly top charts) and independent individuals, and can be about anything from the educational (science, health, history, business and politics) to the entertaining (comedy, arts and culture, and games and hobbies). 

For the ultimate guide to the best podcasts for your commute, we’ve brought together seventeen of the most popular shows right now, from gripping true crime series that will have you on the edge of your train seat to fascinating insights into what our favourite celebrities think. While this list won’t make commuting any easier - or help heal that toe - they’re sure to make your journey a whole lot more enjoyable. You never know, you might even find yourself hoping for a signal failure, just for one more episode.

1. You’re Booked

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Curious about what your favourite authors have on their own bookshelves? You’re Booked host Daisy Buchanan asks guests just that, covering everything from their favourite reading memories to how each guest became a book lover and discussing what exactly turns a reader into a writer. A must for any book lover.

Listen to You're Booked on Acast

2. The High Low

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Based "on the founding message that life is best consumed with a mix of the trivial and the political," The High Low - hosted by Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes - seamlessly unites the very serious with the very entertaining; politics and pop culture. They’ve discussed everything from #MeToo and Trump to Victoria’s Secret and Wagatha Christie.

Listen to The High Low on Acast

3. My Dad Wrote A Porno

Image by: My Dad Wrote A Porno

For almost four years now, Jamie Morton has been sitting down with friends James Cooper and Alice Levine for My Dad Wrote A Porno, going line-by-line through his dad's self-published erotica series, Belinda Blinked. The result is sure to have you chuckling on your commute. 

Listen to My Dad Wrote A Porno on Acast

4. Slow Burn

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Produced by Slate and hosted by journalist Leon Neyfakh, Slow Burn takes a deep dive into historical events and explores the story behind the headlines. So far they’ve examined the murders of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G., the impeachment of Bill Clinton and the Watergate scandal.

Find the Slow Burn podcast on Acast

5. Table Manners With Jessie Ware

Image by: Table Manners With Jessie Ware

Table Manners has a simple premise: Jessie Ware and her mum Lennie have a conversation with someone famous from the worlds of music, culture and politics over dinner. They’ve talked to everyone from food goddess Nigella Lawson to London Mayor Sadiq Khan and singer Ed Sheeran. Their chats offer a fascinating insight into each celebrity’s life and personalities and their thoughts on food, family, work, love and gossip.

Listen to Table Manners on Acast

6. The Daily

Image by: New York Times

Produced by the New York Times, The Daily brings together the biggest stories of the day, as told by world class journalists. Politics plays a heavy role here, as do American current affairs, but it’s a great choice for anyone who wants to stay up to date with the news without endlessly scrolling the Internet.

Find The Daily episodes on Acast

7. Nobody Panic

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Described as ‘your guidebook to being a fully functioning adult without screaming all the time,’ Nobody Panic tackles some of life’s big questions with fun, laughter and some genuinely good advice. Our favourite episodes? ‘How To Travel Alone’, ‘How To Be A Witch’ and ‘How To Stop Feeling Guilty’.

Click to listen to Nobody Panic on Acast

8. Serial 

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You’ve probably already heard of Serial - it was the true crime podcast that launched the true crime podcast trend and took podcasting to the next level, proving that podcasts could go viral and be as popular as any Netflix series. Now in its third season, Serial takes one true story as its focus each season, unfolding all its twists and turns each week. The best part? The host Sarah Koenig doesn’t know what happens at the end of the story so the journey of discovery is shared between listener and presenter.

Listen to Serial on Acast

9. The Cut on Tuesdays

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Host Molly Fischer offers her arguments, obsessions, dissections and reflections - and a space for women’s voices at large - on everything from politics and people to sex, style and culture.

Discover The Cut On Tuesdays here

10. My Favorite Murder

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The set up to this podcast is simple: two girls (hosts Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark) meet up to talk about their favourite murders. The result is a surprisingly funny, witty and refreshing take on the true crime podcast genre.

Play My Favorite Murder on Acast

11. The Treatment

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Ever wondered what goes into making your favourite films and TV shows? The Treatment does just that, inviting the most innovative and influential people working in entertainment, art, and pop culture to talk about their work.

Click here for more on The Treatment podcast

12. Desert Island Discs

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BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs is a staple segment on the station. Featuring a different celebrity or notable person each episode, guests are asked to choose the eight tracks, book and luxury item that they would take to a desert island and why. It’s a basic premise that offers fascinating - and often moving - insight into their lives, childhoods and personalities.

Find Desert Island Discs on Acast

13. Today in Focus

Image by: The Guardian

The Guardian's daily news podcast, Today in Focus, is a brilliant addition that will keep you up to date on current affairs on this side of the pond.

Listen to Today In Focus on Acast

14. Happy Face

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Happy Face really is a true crime podcast with a difference. It features interviews with Melissa Moore, the daughter of serial killer Keith Hunter Jesperson, and it follows Moore as she navigates the reality of her father’s crimes and her relationship to them and him. Happy Face is a raw and touching addition to the true crime genre.

Download Happy Face from Acast

15. We Are Offline

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Hosted by Social Media Editors (and self-confessed social media addicts) Alyss Bowen and Lotte Williams, We Are Offline is all about breaking down our relationship to social media and the issues they raise, and learning how to deal with it in a healthy way.

Discover We Are Offline on Acast

16. How To Fail

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In this podcast, author Elizabeth Day speaks to people about things that haven’t gone right and how they learnt from it, all in the name of celebrating our failures.

Find more about How To Fail on Acast

17. Song Exploder

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Host and creator of Song Exploder, Hrishikesh Hirway invites musicians, lyricists and producers from every genre of music to break down their songs and discuss how they're made.

Listen to Song Exploder on Acast

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