12 Podcasts to Listen to During Your Commute

Sunglasses on, earbuds in, ready to ignore the world for a little while longer...but what are you listening to?

For me, it's usually one of a limited number of Spotify playlists I actually remembered to download so my music doesn't cut out during dead spots on the subway. I've wanted to switch up my listening routine with podcasts, but as a latecomer to a now well-established trend, I had no idea where to start. We all have our things—those tidbits of culture to which we dedicate enough of our free time to feel like we really know something about it: books, music, films, fashion trends, art, etc., and podcasts are a whole world which I knew little to nothing about. To get pointed in the right direction, we asked passersby which podcasts they love, and found some picks for every listening taste. Keep reading to learn more about the programs that have them hooked.

1. Call Your Girlfriend

Hosted by best friends Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, Call Your Girlfriend is a bi-weekly phone call between two friends transformed into a podcast, letting you eavesdrop on their discussions about everything from pop culture to politics to the annoyances and struggles of life. They also bring on their other awesome friends, like Jenna Wortham, Cameron Russell, Huma Abedin, and Tavi Gevinson, for interviews.



2. Dear Sugar Radio

Before she was famous for her memoir about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail alone, Wild, Cheryl Strayed was anonymously writing The Rumpus advice column under the pseudonym Sugar.  She now hosts Dear Sugar Radio weekly on WBUR (broadcast by NPR nationally) alongside Steve Almond, offering advice and empathy to callers.

RECOMMENDED BY: Jeni Ni, Nada Alic


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3. Fresh Air

Hosted by Terry Gross, NPR's Peabody Award-winning Fresh Air has been running out of WHYY Philadelphia since 1985. Focusing on contemporary arts and issues, Gross's interviews are some of the best, and have recently featured guests like Roxane Gay, Joe Biden, Aziz Ansari, and Saudi women's rights activist Manal al-Sharif, to name a few.

Recommended by: Steph Krasnoff, Susan Alexandra


4. Invisibilia

Invisibilia is an exploration into all the invisible things that influence human behavior, things like ideas, beliefs, assumptions, and emotions. In the show's third and latest season, which premiered on June 1, hosts Alix Spiegel and Hanna Rosin have explored topics like "True You," investigating what happens when you discover a part of yourself that is different from who you think you are (and meeting an insect with a split personality), and "Reality," asking how humans can see the same thing yet experience or believe in different realities.

Recommended by: Mel Flashman, Lisa Mayock, Nada Alic, Katie Garcia

5. Pod Save America

In the wake of the 2016 election,  Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, and Tommy Vietor founded Crooked Media and started Pod Save America, setting out to create a no-bullshit conversation about politics that goes where cable news panels will not. Hosted by the Crooked Media co-founders , and joined once-a-week by co-host Dan Pfeiffer, the podcast offers a place to laugh, cry, rant, learn, and get inspired to take action in the current state of American politics.

Recommended by: Mel Flashman, Katie Garcia

6. S-Town

For fans of Serial and true-crime docudramas, S-Town is an investigative journalism podcast that explores an alleged murder in a small town in Alabama. Its host, Brian Reed, a producer of This American Life was contacted by a man who asked him to follow a lead on a murder in his hometown, sparking a years-long investigation, as told in the podcast.

Recommended by: Kelsey Rae Garcia, Susan Alexandra

7. Still Processing

Not only is Still Processing recommended by numerous passersby, it's actually co-hosted by past passerby Jenna Wortham. In the weekly podcast, Jenna and her co-host, fellow NYTimes staffer Wesley Morris, discuss a diverse variety of cultural topics, with past episodes covering things like "What Are the Limits of Gay Pride?" ; "Debating 'Wonder Woman' and Summer Jams" ; and "From Uber to 'Feud,' How Ruthlessness Rules the Day."

Recommended by: Mel Flashman, Natalie O'Moore, Kelsey Rae GarciaTamara Santibanez

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8. TED Radio Hour

Each episode of TED Radio Hour is built around a unifying theme and features past TED speakers as contributors. It's the perfect podcast to sample different ideas and learn more about topics you may have never given much thought to before, with episodes focused on everything from explaining why things—be it trends or laughter—spread, to understanding altruistic behavior.

Recommended by: Allie Berman, Jeni Ni, Nada Alic, Andrea Toscano

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9. The Daily

Offering a 20-minute run-through of the day's most important and topical current events, The Daily from The New York Times is the perfect morning podcast for staying informed about what's going on in the world. Host Michael Barbaro reports on the stories that Times journalists are covering so you can get the news in easily digestible pieces.

Recommended by: Steph Krasnoff, Katie Garcia

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10. Why Oh Why

If you're into smart, clever and funny social commentary on things like love, sex, and dating, and how all those things play out with our increasingly digital world, you should tune into Why Oh Why, where host Andrea Silenzi talks about all the above with friends, experts, and guys in bars. Fans of Modern Romance will love it.

Recommended by: Mel Flashman

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11. You Must Remember This

Karina Longworth has taken the secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood's first century and, through extensive research, has woven them into You Must Remember This, a work of creative nonfiction storytelling. In the podcast's latest season "Jane & Jean," Longworth explores radical Hollywood women Jane Fonda and Jean Seberg, and why one thrived while the other floundered. Last season, she dove into stories about "Dead Blondes" and our fascination with the rise and fall of starlets like Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, and Grace Kelly.

Recommended by: Molly Surno, Susan Alexandra, Nada Alic

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12. 2 Dope Queens

Millennial comedians Jessica Williams (formerly a correspondent on The Daily Show) and Phoebe Robinson (a NY Times Bestselling Author and host of her own WNYC podcast Sooo Many White Guys) are hysterical in 2 Dope Queens, a weekly stand-up comedy and storytelling podcast featuring conversations between the pair along with performances by some of their favorite comedians. 

Recommended by: Nada Alic

Image by Stanley Kubrick (Courtesy of Museum of the City of New York)
Words by Kate Palisay