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7 Podcasts That Change The Commute Game

15 hours per week. 60 hours per month. I spent roughly 240 hours over four months driving in rush hour traffic last summer. At the beginning, I was so excited for the convenience, comfort and privacy of driving since I had spent the previous eight months crammed on the LTC wondering if the City of London even knew what the purpose of a bus schedule was.

But three days into my daily commute, I was seriously bummed out. I felt like I was wasting so much time. Maybe the long bus journey wouldn’t be so bad after all: at least I could read, write, text or browse social media. In a final attempt to make the drive less horrible, I thought of podcasts. I knew a couple people who were fans so I figured there would be no harm in trying. Enter Sophia Amoruso’s Girlboss Radio.

Instead of dreading my commute, I would look forward to it because I got to listen to interviews with women that were excelling in their careers. Whether it was an entrepreneur, artist, actress or author, I have no doubt that listening to other women’s stories impacted me positively. My mood was noticeably better (maybe since I was too distracted for road rage). I was spending three hours a day getting inspired instead of feeling frustrated. I learned about impressive women, how they achieved their success, and found tons of new communities and products that were worth supporting in the process. After finishing Season 1 of Girlboss Radio, I ventured into the unknown world of podcasts and here are the hidden gems I found.

1. Never Before with Janet Mock

Listen to: Rowan Blanchard and Gabourey Sidibe

Janet Mock is the queen of engaging conversation, framing political discourse in an approachable way, and making the audience feel like they’re just hanging with friends. I love this podcast for its candid conversations and upbeat tone. From Maxine Waters, to Lena Dunham, to Kris Jenner, there is something for you on Never Before with Janet Mock.

2. Startup Podcast

Listen to: All of Season 1! (Trust me, you’ll want to).

Startup provides a unique look at the grimy bits of starting a business. I would strongly recommend this podcast for anyone interested in entrepreneurship and the business of podcasting. Alex Blumberg expertly and honestly takes listeners through the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur. I loved hearing such a genuine portrayal of startup life—the embarrassments, the learning curve, the lows of failure and the great highs of success.

3. Loveline with Amber Rose

Listen to: Drag Queen Icon RuPaul!

Loveline is a welcome departure from the more serious tone of news updates, informational and standard interview format podcasts. As a prominent pop culture and feminist figure, Amber Rose is an interesting woman. I really enjoy hearing her advice to listener questions, as well as her opinions on a wide-range of topics such as: sex work, sexual harassment, monogamy and online dating.

4. Stuff Mom Never Told You

Listen to: How Teen Vogue Got Woke and Marriage vs. Ambition

With over 800 episodes, Stuff Mom Never Told You is a staple for podcast listening. By investigating the concepts of womanhood, gender and sex, this podcast brings an essential conversation to mass audiences: colorism, Asian sexuality in the media and bathroom politics are just a sneak peek of the important content covered here.

5. The Nerdist

Listen to: Sophia Coppola or Tom Holland

Host Chris Hardwick, a celebrity in his own right, uses The Nerdist podcast to air his interviews with celebrities. The conversational tone of the show is great for easy listening and it’s interesting to hear famous folks like Jodie Foster, Sir Patrick Stewart and Jordan Peele in a more genuine environment than the typical red carpet allows.

6. Explain Things to Me with Anna Akana & Brad Gage

Listen to: The Bachelor Winner Courtney Robertson

Also available in video-format on YouTube, Explain Things to Me is the perfect podcast to satiate your curiosity about obscure, glamourous and/or admirable professions. Guests are invited to discuss their expertise, ranging from casting directors to NASA engineers to criminal lawyers and more. I like that listeners can pick and choose which episodes they’re interested in without worrying about an ongoing narrative. Definitely the perfect fix to an infuriating traffic jam.

7. Politically Re-Active with W. Kamau Bell & Hari Kondabolu

Listen to: Roxane Gay on Anger After the Election

Politically Re-Active is a one-of-a-kind show. The comedic element (as both hosts are comedians) helps to make its heavy political content less of a downer and more digestible for all audiences. This podcast may appeal to you if you’re interested in actively thinking about US political discourse and how to move forward in the Trump era. With guests like Bell Hooks, Akilah Hughes and Neil deGrasse, you can’t go wrong with this one.

Honourable Mention: GIRLBOSS RADIO

Listen to:

  • Christine Barberich, Global Editor-in-Chief & Co-Founder, Refinery29

  • Rachel Weiss, L’Oreal VP of Innovation and Entrepreneurship

  • Alyssa Mastromonaco, COO Vice Media & Former Deputy Chief of Staff to Obama

  • Anne-Marie Slaughter, President & CEO New America

Podcasts are the happy medium between reading and binge-watching TV. After all my class readings, there is no way I’m picking up another book and TV can be pretty dangerous for an expert procrastinator. The podcast libraries on iTunes or Spotify have something for everyone! Although I still love to listen to music when I drive or take the bus, it’s nice to have the option to listen to something different (and at least give myself the illusion of being productive). You’ll never know if you don’t try!

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Jessica Granofsky, HCWO's 2017-2018 Sponsorship Manager, is a fourth year student at Western University studying Media, Information, and Technoculture. She loves her cat, Olaf, more than anything in the world and is a strong advocate for cats in the Cat vs. Dog debate.
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