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Culture Spotlight

6 smart, entertaining podcasts to keep you company from coffee to bedtime

In much the same way we choose songs and beverages to go with certain hours of the work day (The Carters at 8 a.m., beers after 5), we’ve selected certain podcasts to get you through the day—from your first cup of coffee to your nightly chill pill. 
Stef Juan | Jan 17 2019

Podcasts are the talk radio for the digital age. They’re free, and anybody with a decent digital recorder and wherewithal can broadcast their own. There is one about anything and for everyone. Name a subject and there will be a podcast for that. Try it.

Podcasts have been known to save people’s sanity while they’re stuck in legendary traffic jams, keep them company while working on something with their hands, and even be a comfort and diversion while suffering a migraine in a dark room. One can hoard programs and episodes in a smartphone like most bibliophiles hoard books. This way a podcast would always be ready to fill that brief unoccupied pocket in one’s schedule with stories, opinions, and information that one didn’t know they wanted until a podcast gave it to them.

So, here are some of those moments in your day where a particular podcast could fit in.

 

On mornings with coffee and contemplation: Criminal

Criminal is a true crime podcast that delves into the myriad facets of various criminal acts (and it’s amazing just how many of them there are), but this is not just for true crime enthusiasts. Host Phoebe Judge (who has a beautiful soothing voice) interviews experts, witnesses, victims, perpetrators, enforcers, authors, lawyers, and other people to tell the story and to offer its listeners a better understanding of that particular crime. Sensitive, reflective, and oftentimes relevant, this podcast is a good way to warm up for the barrage of the day’s stressful, reactionary, and often unsolicited litany of bad news.

New episodes come out twice a month on Fridays.

 

While doing your business in the bathroom: The Way I Heard It with Mike Rowe

In the tradition of multitasking while sitting on the toilet, such as reading the newspaper or a book, I present The Way I Heard It with Mike Rowe. Mike Rowe has always been a storyteller. He has a talent for digging up stories that would otherwise have gone unnoticed and making them interesting. His podcast is only 10 minutes long (the perfect length for a bathroom break without arousing suspicion) and it presents a different take on popular people and events that you thought you knew. He presents it like a mini mystery and it’s fun to guess who or what he’s talking about at the end.

New episodes come out every week on Tuesdays. 

 

On long road trips: Welcome to Night Vale

Welcome to Night Vale is like a television series made for binge-watching, but for your ears. There’s no better time to binge-listen to a podcast than a long road trip and Welcome to Night Vale’s format as a community radio program that gives updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring local weather news, announcement from the Sheriff’s Secret Police, the current status of the mysterious lights in the sky, activities of the dark hooded figures with unknowable powers, as well as cultural events. It’s a strange program whose weirdness is funny and intelligent enough to keep you awake and in good company for your whole trip.

Episodes come out twice a month.

 

And of course, while stuck in traffic: And That’s Why We Drink

Personally, Manila traffic is one reason why I drink (but don’t drink and drive!). This podcast could be the next best thing, but no, this isn’t a show about drinks or drinking. And That's Why We Drink is about supernatural and true crime stories that cause the two hosts to drink wine and milkshakes. Hosts Em and Kristine are two best friends who are interested in the supernatural and true crime, respectively. It’s not as high-brow as most of previous recommendations, and you might have heard their stories from other podcasts before, but Em and Kristine make for great company while stuck in traffic on your way to or from work.

A new episode comes out every Monday. 

 

At home with a night cap: You Must Remember This

When you’re at home on Friday night (by choice) and you just want to relax with a single malt or something as pleasantly expensive, You Must Remember This would make great company. It is all about the “secret and forgotten histories of Hollywood” filled with lurid tales of sex, drugs, and tragedies during its golden age. This is one of the most intriguing, well-made, and extensively researched podcasts that could satisfy any discerning listener. Plus, host and creator Karina Longworth, apart from being a brilliant author, film critic and historian, has a gorgeous voice to go with her savory Hollywood stories.

A new episode comes out every Monday.

 

When in need of a bedtime story: LeVar Burton Reads

LeVar Burton, celebrated children’s author and Star Trek alum, channels his voice talents and love for short stories into his podcast LeVar Burton Reads. He reads short fiction by a wide array of authors, from the popular greats Neil Gaiman, Haruki Murakami, Ray Bradbury, to lesser known (but no less great) international authors Lesley Nneka Arimah, Amal El-Mothar, and Nnedi Okorafor. His voice and atmospheric soundscapes draw his listeners into the world of the story he is reading, which is a great way to transition from being awake to dreaming.

New episodes come out every week on Tuesdays.