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Crappy commute? Sail through the B.S. with these amazingly distracting podcasts. Trust us – traffic will never be the same again.
Commuting sucks. And it also sucks the life out of you, literally. That’s because it’s linked to all sorts of health risks, including high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, and heart disease. Who knew? Added to that, the longer the commute, the more time you’re shaving off your life. An Environment and Planning study found that when women take a longer commute, the higher their mortality risk, compared to men who take long commutes, and women who take shorter rides.
That’s because our commutes are longer and more stressful they’ve ever been. South Africa’s roads and trains have become so jam-packed that a University of Johannesburg study found it’s the third highest overall priority in our lives, topped only by education and health.
But fear not! Research shows listening to a podcast taps into the brain’s memory, sensory and emotional networks, so you don’t notice the mess around you. We’ve rounded up the WH team’s fave podcasts to listen to. Give them a try – you can thank us later.
If You Love A Good Mystery
From aliens to secret volcanoes, Mysteries Abound covers everything from the bizarre to the bafflingly real goings on around us. The host’s voice is soothing and you’ll get a giggle from his dry sense of humour.
A radio producer at NPR (America’s national radio) gets an email one day about a place the author refers to as “Shit Town”, and asks for help investigating a murder in the tiny town. The podcast ends up delving into several mysteries at once. S-Town‘s Superb storytelling and a twisty mystery make for riveting listening.
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Lore is a spooky retelling of historical accounts, ranging from witch hunts to alleged supernatural creatures to vintage murders. The podcast looks at these tales, often true stories recovered from archives, and frames it around the bizarre nature of thinking humans employed in times gone by.
If You Really Need A Laugh
Unhappy Hour With Matt Bellassai
If your love a good bitching session, you’ll adore Matt Bellassai’s podcast, Unhappy Hour With Matt Bellassai. Whiner of the popular internet series To Be Honest, this podcast includes cocktails, moaning, and tons of laughs. It’s definitely the most fun way to get gratification from the crummy traffic.
If you’re looking for lots of shade-throwing and tea-spilling with a flippant and humorous attitude, then you’ll definitely like The Read. Kid Fury and Crissle’s weekly podcast covers hip-hop and pop culture’s most trying stars. The Read also serves as an on-air therapy session for two friends trying to adjust to life in the big city.
Savage Love Cast
Dan Savage is the master of navigating complicated love dilemmas in the funniest way possible. In every episode of Savage Love Cast, he deals with reader’s agonies, from the sublime to the ridiculous. His voice is not annoying, which is hard to pull off over an hour-long solo podcast.
If You Want To Learn Something
They describe themselves as “a radio show about ideas and culture,” the Little Atoms podcast features book reviews across every genre from town planning to quantum physics to colonisation to the history of whisky and all kinds of fiction.
Stuff You Should Know
An offshoot of the popular website, Stuff You Should Know is an entertaining look at the most interesting and obscure topics, from The Great Wall of China to Frontal Lobe Lobotomies. You’ll be the most interesting person in the office, guaranteed.
Gastropod is a fascinating look at food through the lens of science and history. It covers a diverse range of topics, from probiotics to how the mafia started from the lemon trade during the scurvy outbreak. You’ll never think of food in the same way, and you’ll learn to appreciate grub in a whole new way.
The TED Radio Hour
A collation of TED Talks by NPR, the production of The TED Radio Hour adds value to the traditional Talk model. Each week, the producers pick a topic and the host takes you on a journey of discovery, featuring interviews with different speakers. In one episode, you could learn about a plethora of topics all encompassed in one theme.
The Minimalists is essentially an extension of The Minimalist brand, a duo of men who advocate for cutting down your life into its necessary pieces. It’s a thoughtful, fascinating look into the world and how we can do more with less, from your possessions to the way you do everyday things.
If You Want A Good Story
Myths And Legends
Like the title would suggest, this podcast picks up a different myth or tale a week. At the end of every Myths and Legends episode, you also meet a different fantastical creature. It’s a truly funny, quirky twist to regular folk stories you maybe do know but aren’t familiar with their origins, or really great stories you haven’t heard before. What’s great is that the host Jason is a literature junkie and delves into stories from all over the world, even South Africa.
My Favorite Murder
My Favorite Murder is hands down one of the most addictive podcasts to listen to. Every week comedians Karen and Georgia talk about their favourite murder cases. The discussion almost always ventures off into hilarious places, and the cases are always riveting and downright crazy.
This American Life
Sure, this is the one podcast everyone recommends (aside from Serial), but This American Life is truly one of the best-produced radio segments. Each week, there’s a different theme, with different stories in each episode. Host Ira Glass is a podcasting legend and his reflective tone makes for an immersive, thoughtful look at life. Make sure you listen to Abdi and The Golden Ticket, a stand-out episode.