Whether typing away your desk, walking around the warehouse, or driving your route, work often provides an ideal atmosphere for a enjoying podcast — and for working, but that’s beside the point. Maybe it’s best you don’t search out a program that’s going to require your entire attention, but instead look for something fun and casual, the aural equivalent of putting on a season of The Office for the fifth time because it’s great background noise. You’re looking for something that you don’t necessarily have to pay full attention to, but will be happy to hear when you do listen in now and then. With the ever-expanding library of podcasts (both shows and episodes), there is undoubtedly one out there to tickle your ears and help get you to closing time without taking your mind fully off work. Or the road.
The Great Fail
Let’s be honest: We all take a bit of guilty pleasure in hearing about the failures of others. It makes us feel better about our own lot in life. And the failures covered by The Great Fail? They’re pretty epic. Like how Tower Records went from a billion-dollar company to a memory. Our how Blockbuster essentially put itself out of business long before Netflix grew ascendant. Or how American Apparel went from darling of the American clothing business to bankrupt and bought out.
Stuff You Should Know “SYSK”
Stuff You Should Know is the podcast that takes you from a tidbit of information to knowledgeable conversation. The show covers how rogue waves work, the story behind The Pledge of Allegiance, and just about everything you’ve come across and only gave 5 seconds of thought to before moving on. Two of the most listened-to episodes were about Spam and hangovers. SYSK delivers back pocket information to lay on the team around the office water cooler or when meeting at happy hour after jetting early from work.
Hosted by comedian, actor, and husband to the voice actress of Ana in Frozen, Dax Shepard brings the Armchair Expert from a loft above his barn. The Armchair Expert seems to bring normality to celebrity life as Shepard and guests talk about life as if they were you and me. The Armchair Expert explores the challenges and setbacks of big names that we see in Hollywood. You will be able to relate to most of the stories and there is a very good possibility of a, “Hey, that happened to me, too” right along with the big-name celebrities.
How Did This Get Made
With celebrity hosts and a star-studded list of guests, How Did This Get Made questions exactly that. Finding some of the worst movies ever made and a lot of the movies that are so bad, they’re good, each episode performs a biopsy of a single movie iconic to the horrors of the movie industry. Specific scenes, outfits, and of course, acting, all are up for grabs for some choice words from the hosts. Just think about a movie where Arnold Schwarzenegger is a Minneapolis suburban father on the hunt for the last action figure before Xmas with then an hour of comedic actors giving their two cents on How Did This Get Made.
Tiny Desk Concerts
Though this podcast might be a little more enjoyable at a visual level, Tiny Desk Concerts is a live NPR office concert from artists you know and many that you need to know. Listen to some of your favorites sing and play unplugged with minimal backup singers and instruments. The concert takes place behind a tiny desk in front of the occupants of said desk and others from the office. Little to big names pass through the office for a chance at a Tiny Desk Concert and when you need some live music to get you through the moment, this podcast is the ultimate live perspective.
My Brother, My Brother, and Me
Family matters always lead to good conversation and when it’s three brothers locked in a room, you’ll have to listen to figure out exactly what the brothers McElroy are up to. My Brother, My Brother, and Me is a playful podcast set on a mission to answer life’s biggest questions or those sent in by listeners. Each brother is an expert in something or certainly tries to be, furthering the rhetoric of the podcast. Just imagine sitting around the living room when the family is home, a topic comes up and that one uncle has to have the final say; welcome to My Brother, My Brother, and Me.
Do you remember when you used to buy a CD and it came with a mini-bio of the artist? The Broken Record podcast is from the artist’s perspective and encompasses their life, craft, and inspirations. Artists like Andre3000, Jack White, and Daniel Rateliff dive into their past and provide insight into how they came to be. And before the show is over, you can certainly count on hearing some live music. The Broken Record podcast is a combination of a concert and autobiography, and a fantastic listen throughout the day.
Staying up to date with pop culture is important, but by no means does that mean you need to pick up a copy of the generic tabloids. Still Processing is the ultimate podcast for trying to understand the inner workings of America. Hosts Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham, two culture writers for The New York Times, take knife and fork to movies, art, music, and the internet to find the things that hit on all the feelings of anger, awe, and tears. And more often than not, the two are discussing the very happenings of your life and subject you’re struggling to comprehend and Still Processing.
The Joe Rogan Experience
Nearing 1,500 episodes, The Joe Rogan Experience is for the everyday individual that maybe spends a little too much time on the web. Hosted by the Joe Rogan, actor/comedian/mma fighter/sports broadcaster, the free video and audio podcast is simply a conversation between Rogan and his guest. But the topics and guests bounce from deep space travel with Neil deGrasse Tyson, whatever Elon Musk is getting into while smoking pot, and Kevin Hart. All said and done, The Joe Rogan Experience is certainly an experience.
If you burn through all of these, you should check out our favorite podcasts for road trips, our top overall picks for 2019, the best fiction podcasts overall, podcasts to listen to during a workout, the greatest history podcasts, or The Manual’s own podcast. And if you’re new to podcasts, you’ll need one of the top apps for listening.
Article originally published March 1, 2019. Last updated November, 2020.
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