8 fun and educational podcasts for your Valley commute

Image by Valley Metro.

Though some are lucky to live where they work or vice versa, others are stuck with lengthy rides and drives. Don’t waste your daily trips staring out the window or listening Whether you’re driving down the I-10 or riding the light rail, these podcasts will add some entertainment (and learning!) to your commute.

Tech

Too Embarrassed to Ask, Recode Media

In “Too Embarrassed to Ask,” hosts Kara Swisher and Lauren Goode field questions from listeners about consumer tech. Past episodes have answered whether or not the new MacBook Pro Touch Bar is useful, which encrypted messaging app is the best to use, and whether or not a person can be addicted to sexting.

The expertise of the two tech reporters as well as the interactivity of the show (there are always questions being posed on their Twitter accounts) make this one worth subscribing to.

Note to Self, WYNC

Manoush Zomorodi focuses on the “human” elements of tech in this podcast and explores how new technology shapes our everyday lives. She frequently tries out new devices or apps herself, most notably in a recent episode where she zapped her brain into a relaxed state using Thync headgear.

Earlier this year, the podcast conducted a multi-week project called the Privacy Paradox. Each episode focused on a specific aspect of online privacy and included a personal challenge. One day it was looking through app privacy settings to see what information the apps could access, another day it was completely unplugging and being “anonymous” for 15 minutes.

Zomorodi’s charming personality and honesty combined with her ability to hone in on topics everyone is wondering about make this podcast worth downloading.

Codebreaker, Marketplace

“Codebreaker,” hosted by Ben Brock Johnson, starts each season by asking a question about types of technology. First was “Is it evil?” and then “Will it save us?” These thought-provoking inquiries led to some great conversations about big data, large-scale surveillance, and voice recognition software among others.

Johnson expertly finds memorable stories in everyday people. One poignant episode tells the story of an ill grandmother who uses virtual reality to escape her room and experience the world again in a whole new way.

These fascinating stories and the depth each episode reaches makes this podcast a standout.

Entrepreneurship

How I Built This, NPR

Guy Raz invites a new entrepreneur to each show to tell their story—how they started out, which of their projects failed, and how they got to be the esteemed businessperson they are now. Even though the basis of each episode is the same, Raz manages to conduct unique and poignant interviews with guests like Manoj Bhargava of 5-Hour Energy, John Zimmer of Lyft, and Sara Blakely of Spanx.

Even if a guest is well-known and has done many interviews in the past, there are likely anecdotes and personal insights in these episodes that they haven’t shared anywhere else, thanks to Raz’s masterful interviewing skills; each interview feels like a conversation between good friends.

This podcast should be on your playlist if you want to learn about the people behind startups that have turned into household names

The Hustle Sold Separately

This one is offered by Arizona’s own Matt Gottesman (of HDFmagazine) as well as Case Kenny, who founded the rapidly growing online publication PRSUIT. “The Hustle Sold Separately” is a weekly podcast that provides actionable advice and interviews from makers and creators who are embracing the entrepreneurial journey. Each episode ends with a “hustler thought of the day” that can be directly applied to the listener’s own journey.

“The Hustle Sold Separately” is a worthwhile download for any entrepreneur  who loves the process and prefers to act, not chat.

Ambitious Entrepreneur Show

This show, hosted by Annemarie Cross, is made to help entrepreneurs feel more confident about marketing and making themselves stand out among competitors. Cross presents many “how-to” episodes on topics like releasing anxiety, conducting customer research, generating referrals, and amplifying influence through social and digital media.

Cross also hosts five other business-oriented podcasts, including the “Women in Leadership Podcast” and “The Corporate Podcast.”

Just for Fun

Need a break from work-related shows? Try these:

Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, NPR and WBEZ Chicago

This game show podcast is perfect for someone who wants to wake up to the news, but in a fun way. Hosts Peter Sagal and Bill Kurtis guide panels of comedians, writers, celebrities, and everyday people through various news-related games. These include guessing who said a quote, filling in a limerick, choosing which fantastical news story is actually true, and answering general current events questions.

The panelists’ jokes and commentary throughout are bound to have you laughing out loud all the way to work.

The Truth, Radiotopia

If you’re in the mood to get away from the news, and reality in general, try “The Truth.” This podcast aggregates stories of all kinds—from horrific science fiction to touching dramas, it’s hard to be bored with the selection.

Not only are the voice actors top-notch, but the integration of sound effects and sometimes original music into the stories makes them even more compelling. This is definitely a good podcast for clearing your head on the way home.

Jessica Swarner

Author: Jessica Swarner

Jessica studies political science and journalism at ASU's honors college and works in a cybersecurity lab. Her hobbies include reading up on hacker forums on Tor and giving unsolicited podcast recommendations.

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