Traffic, like death and education, has become the great equalizer.
Whether we ride public transportation or drive our own cars, traffic jams, the inefficient and unsafe metro trains, and overlong commutes have become every Metro Manila-living Filipino’s eternal nightmare.
It may not be the top tip in “Surviving Hellish Edsa 101,” but listening to our favorite podcasts is a good way to distract ourselves from the terrors of our daily commute. It’s not a solution per se, but we have to do what we can to survive, right?
Here are story-centric podcasts perfect for long drives and commutes.
“Serial”: It changed the game for podcasts back in 2014. Hosted by Sarah Koenig, the first season sought to uncover the truth behind the death of Hae Min Lee, a teenage girl who was found murdered in Baltimore in 1999.
“Serial” became a hit, breaking download records and topping charts, and won several media awards, including the 2015 Peabody Award. The podcast has two distinct seasons, with the third on the way.
“S-Town”: Hosted by Brian Reed, this seven-episode podcast is like a nonfiction mystery novel you can’t put down.
It starts out as an investigation of a murder in small-town Woodstock, Alabama, but spirals into a wildly different story—a compelling portrait of brilliant yet troubled man and an exploration of enduring life questions about humanity and existence.
“Dirty John”: Los Angeles Times veteran journalist Christopher Goffard tells the story a charismatic conman who preys on an unsuspecting woman he met through a dating website.
The podcast, which The New Yorker called “journalism noir,” is an addictive mix of journalistic reporting and suspenseful storytelling.
Also try: “In the Dark,” “Someone Knows Something”
“Limetown”: This fiction podcast tackles the strange disappearance of the more than 300 people who reside and work at a science research compound in Tennessee.
Presented through a documentary style of storytelling, “Limetown” uses interviews, news recordings and special effects to tell its tale. Basically, it’s the lovechild of “The X-Files” and “Serial.”
“Within the Wires”: One of the more unique podcasts, “Within the Wires” is experiential and experimental in its storytelling with its use of innovative narrative techniques.
The first season presents its story through full-body relaxation audio tapes, while the second uses museum audio guides. It’s weird and confounding, but also hypnotic and immersive.
“The Writer’s Voice”: Remember the viral short story fiction “Cat Person”? Did you know you can listen to it as a podcast?
“The Writer’s Voice” features audio versions of the fiction published in The New Yorker. The stories are read by their authors, which include notable names in the literary world like Ian McEwan, Zadie Smith, and T.C. Boyle.
Also try: “LifeAfter,” “The Truth”
“Modern Love”: The hugely popular column in The New York Times featuring stories about “love, loss and redemption” is even better when experienced through audio.
In the podcast, the essays are read by famous personalities, like director Greta Gerwig, actor Colin Farrell, and journalist Katie Couric. The podcast delves deeper into these stories by including short interviews with the column’s editor Daniel Jones and with the essays’ writers themselves.
“The Mortified Podcast”: Adult men and women share the most embarrassing entries from their childhood diaries and journals or the cringe-worthy excerpts of their juvenile works of art.
They hilariously reveal their childhood shame, from a torrid sex scene one woman wrote when she was 11 or 12, to diary entries about a forbidden crush on the school janitor, to song parodies of Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill.”
“This Is Actually Happening”: Probably the ultimate confessional podcast, it explores the human condition via interviews with people who have experienced a life-altering, unthinkable or extraordinary event in their lives.
Each episode is presented as a first-person narrative devoid of any interruptions and with minimal music. From waking up in a morgue to surviving domestic abuse, the stories in “This Is Actually Happening” can be harrowing, outrageous, yet moving and very intimate.
Download or stream these podcasts for free via Podcasts (iOS), Stitcher, and RadioPublic, etc. Some are also available on Spotify and their respective websites.