Commuting sucks. Believe me, I commute about 3 hours a day getting to and from school.
One of the main challenges with having these long commutes is making an efficient use of time. Public transit isn’t exactly the ideal place to pull out your laptop to do some work. Internet access is not always guaranteed and depending on the time of day, you may be in a #TTCsardines situation for most of your trip. Not to mention, reading on a moving vehicle is nausea-inducing for many.
So, what do you do during that time? Sometimes I try to catch up with my friends and scroll through my various social media accounts. Sometimes I manage to get some reading in. But my absolute favourite way to make use of my commutes is listening to podcasts.
I didn’t really get podcasts up until about a year ago. It was just the icon on the music players that I never clicked on. I didn’t really see where people could be entertained by only listening to people talk for 20-60 minutes. At least with vlogs there was also a visual element that keeps you engaged.
That all changed when YouTubers Rhett and Link came out with Ear Biscuits, their interview podcast series, where they interview YouTubers (and other interesting people) about their lives. I realized that I love hearing stories about people’s lives, and I’ve become much more appreciative of the art of storytelling.
I came across more and more podcasts that delivered life stories of interesting people, which is what I would like to share with you. The following are four of my currently favourite podcasts, as well as a quick review of the various apps you can find these podcasts.
1. Ear Biscuits – a conversation with an interesting person from the internet
There’s a lot about our favourite YouTubers that we don’t know. People are interested in background information about their lives, like their parents, where they were raised, and other fun (creepy?) facts prior to their YouTuber life. Especially with YouTubers, those kinds of details are hard to get to unless they decide to talk about it in their videos. Rhett and Link fills that void and creates the opportunity to explore these stories from their lives. They interview their guests in a fun but insightful way, and brings out the unique stories of their life experiences. Sometimes the conversations get really heavy but it paints a fuller picture of the lives of internet celebrities.
What I like most about these podcasts is the origin stories; how they got into making videos in the first place, what they’ve tried, and when and how they got their breaks to make it a career. Everyone has a different story, and I find it really interesting to hear about the different life circumstances that brought them to YouTube.
2. Not Too Deep with Grace Helbig
Grace Helbig, being the first ever guest on Ear Biscuits, has since created her own audio-video podcast. It’s basically the anti-Ear Biscuits, the point of the interviews to not go too complex in subject matter or emotions. Grace compiles her own questions with those from fans on Twitter, and tops off the interview with a game (usually a hilarious spin on a trending YouTube challenge). The interview portion is uploaded as the audio podcast, and the game is uploaded as a video on her YouTube channel.
What I enjoy most about these podcasts is seeing (or rather, hearing) the guests interact with Grace as she throws the most ridiculous questions at them. The questions she asks are totally random and imaginative, and requires them to be the same to provide an entertaining response. It carries the completely opposite tone of Ear Biscuits, but I’ve literally LOL’d in public listening to Not Too Deep, so it’s definitely on my list.
The first time I heard someone talk about Serial I thought they were saying “cereal”, so it didn’t make a lot of sense when they started describing it as a suspenseful story about a murder. A spin-off of This American Life, it’s an investigative audio documentary of the death of Hae-Min Lee in 1999. Sarah Koenig talks the listener through every step of her investigation; who she’s interviewed, the details about the case, and what she makes of the information she’s collected. Although this isn’t an interview podcast like the other two, it cuts into clips of her recorded interviews throughout the episode. It’s suspenseful, great storytelling, and has even prompted the Maryland Court to give the convicted suspect a second chance to appeal his case.
If you’re on Reddit, you’ve probably seen posts about their podcast Upvoted. It’s a relatively new podcast and I’ve only listened to the first episode, but from what I’ve heard I know it’s something I can get into. Reddit picks interesting stories on their site to explore even further through podcast form. Most of the podcast is the guest they interview for these stories telling their own stories, cut in with some narration from Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit. It’s basically a lot of uplifting storytelling that makes you believe in humanity or the internet again.
If you’re an iPhone user or have limited data, then iTunes is probably your easiest choice. Download the audio files (they’re all free!) and sync them to your device.
If you have a great data plan, then streaming might be an option for you. Stitcher and Soundcloud lets you stream for free, the only downside being that you might get cut off when you hit an area without great reception (or underground). In my experience, Soundcloud has a much cleaner sound, though I can see how some people would prefer the Stitcher interface. Just try them out and I hope you enjoy!