I have lived in Toronto for the last three years. I absolutely love it. However, my home is located as far west in Etobicoke as possible without it being in Mississauga. With that said, my transit commute to get anywhere is nothing short of tedious.
At first I would play games on my iPhone to distract myself. It made an hour of travel time feel like mere minutes. There are a few downsides to this, however! Sometimes a bumpy bus results in you barely missing that high score in Flappy Bird that you were yearning for. On that note, what’s more demeaning to your self-worth than continuing to chase a high score that you honestly know that you will never achieve? Games lose their spark quickly.
I switched to music to pass time on those long subway rides. But what about those ever so “human” moments where I forget my headphones? I realized that I get quite annoyed with hearing another person’s music among the loud noises on the train tracks. I gave up on this habit. People in glass houses should not throw stones.
I ended up finding the perfect medium in podcasts. No pulsing rhythm to upset fellow commuters, no throwing my phone in anger over a defeat in Trivia Crack- it’s perfect. Here are some of my favorite podcast series as of right now, and why;
Hosts PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman have an undeniable chemistry as they explore human interest stories about one of the world’s most powerful tools, the Internet. Topics range from online love schemes to racism over Yik-Yak. It is always a pleasure to see that a new episode has been uploaded.
Between doing time as the frontman of Toronto punk outfit F**ked Up and working with CBC and Vice among others, Damien Abraham also has his own podcast . The concept is simple; a discussion with someone who is (or was) involved in the punk community. I liken this to sitting in a Starbucks and having Wade MacNeil and Abraham sitting at another table talking about “the good old days”. Sometimes the conversations are long and lose focus, sometimes the audio is fuzzy. However, the anecdotes that come from these episodes are captivating and worth sticking around for an hour.
Host Anna Sail sits down with guests for an intimate conversation about the three things humans try to avoid speaking of (see title). The content is heartwarming, funny and vulnerable. Sometimes I will finish an episode and feel like I’m best friends with the Sail and her guest. This podcast is the perfect dose of laugh and cry.
This show is the “mystery meat” of journalism, but in a good way. Ira Glass and his team of journalists compile reports that all closely relate to one specific theme. It usually results in a handful of incredible stories from people in all walks of life. Topics range from police brutality to sexual education, with no border or limits on the enriching content. This series has become part of my Sunday night routine. I don’t think I can go to bed without listening to TAL.
On the note of This American Life, Serial actually was originally intended to be a story on This American Life. It ended up spawning into something much bigger. The concept follows the trial of Adnan Syed, who is currently serving a sentence for the murder of his high school sweetheart. Host Sarah Koenig explores all possible elements of the trial and attempts to further prove (or disprove) the case. Is Syed guilty or innocent? I am still undecided, as are many. Although there has not been a new episode since December 2014, this is a great podcast to listen to. I am guilty of repeating the series and I am highly anticipating another season.
All podcasts are free to download. Enjoy, and feel free to let me know of any other great series that I failed to mention!