One thing all cities have in common, great or small (and still pretty great), is the dreaded Morning Work Commute (MWC). We all have places to go, and we’d rather think about other things until we get there.
If you don’t podcast already, you’re missing out. They open up worlds, and unlike most forms of entertainment, they don’t require hands-on, full attention. Not that you shouldn’t give a good podcast as much attention as possible for the ultimate experience — just saying, you can’t very well crack into Robinson Crusoe on the drive to work. And movies aren’t really a legal option, either.
Most people opt for music as their routine-slayer of choice. But let’s be serious, all good music leads to twerking and it’s too early in the day for that.
Base line, you’re trying to get your THINK on in the early AM. You need something to get the gears into motion — a mental morning run, if you will. So, for all of these reasons and plenty more, we vote PODCASTS as the Winner of MWC Entertainment. However, as we started rounding up our choice of fantastic commute-morsels, we got about halfway through the list before we thought, Hrm. Most of these are pretty good but…let’s go straight to the source and find some GREAT podcasts. We want EAR CANDY!
Well, who better to ask for recommendations than “The Goddess of Podcasting?”
Ann Heppermann, ladies and gents. There are few people more involved in the world of audio-involvement. If you haven’t heard of her, now you have:
Ann Heppermann is documentary artist, reporter, and educator. Her Peabody award-winning work has aired on numerous public radio shows including This American Life, 99% Invisible, and Radiolab. In 2011 she was named a United States Artists Rockefeller Fellow. She teaches audio fiction and narrative journalism in Sarah Lawrence College’s writing program. It is there she founded The Sarah Awards. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
So what is she working on right now? “The latest episode of the fiction podcast Serendipity,” she tells us. Check it out, and other recommendations in her list below.
The Set-Up: Each episode comes in two, the first half follows the adventure of two strangers who met in Brooklyn unexpectedly, and seems to be inspired by the content chosen for the second half. The second, highlight piece of each episode comes from international contributors.
The Setter-Uppers: Produced by Ann Hepperman, Martin Johnson, and contributors to The Sarah Awards.
2. The Truth.
The Set-Up: Every episode of The Truth is a different story exhibiting “Experiences with Sound.” The things Jonathan Mitchell does with sound and storytelling will make you forget where and who you are. The ultimate escape.
The Setter-Uppers: Produced by Jonathan Mitchell. Studied in composition and inspired by Joe Frank and This American Life. Actors and collaborative writers vary.
The Set-Up: A 6-episode comedic mini-series riddled in jazz tunes and narrated by the host of “the 11th most-listened-to, syndicated, smooth jazz/classic light R&B program on radio today.”
The Setter-Uppers: Produced by David Wilcox, who says he was influenced by Chris Morris’ Blue Jam.
4. The Heart.
The Set-Up: An award-winning Montreal-based radio show aiming to introduce new narratives about sex, love, and relationships. Prepare to blush.
According to The Heart, the show is all about “Things you whisper. Things you do in the dark — or in the light. Things you feel, but you don’t know how to name. This is a show about all of those things. It’s about the triumphs and the terrors of intimacy, the bliss and banality of being in love, and the wild diversity of the human heart”
The Setter-Uppers: Hosted by Kaitlin Priest and produced by Mitra Kaboli and Samara Breger.
5. Works by Falling Tree Productions.
The Set Up: Founded in 1998, Falling Tree is one of the world’s leading radio production companies. Based in the UK. Utterly human stories, plus features on music, design, art, and architecture, all produced with the utmost skill. Falling Tree set the bar high in terms of radio production. Everyone else is just now catching up.
The Setter-Uppers: Founded by Alan Hall. Various producers, actors and writers, including production team: Alan Hall, Eleanor McDowall, Hannah Walker Brown, Rachel Hooper, Pejk Malinovski, Peregrine Andrews and Sarah Cuddon.
6. AND, what she’s listening to right now: “BBC4’s Dreaming the City.“
The set-up: A series of actuality dramas and dark recurring dreams of the city, blending documentary footage, found sound, and fictional storytelling.
The setter-uppers: A BBC4 Production in which writers collaborate with documentary-makers Russell Finch and Francesca Panetta to uncover the unsaid obsessions of city life.
So there you have it: The door to your listening escape. No more horns and train announcements disturbing YOUR morning think-through. These story-based sound gems will chop those commutes in half for the next few months, at the very least. You might just find yourself wishing your trip to work was longer.
P.S. Can’t get enough? Here are some Honorable Mentionables from Team Vimbly:
- Night Vale — A bi-monthly report of the going-ons in a fictional town. Cecil the host has serious cabin fever.
- Slate’s The Gist. – Hosted by Mike Pesca, a one-man news and comedy wrecking-ball
- Comedy Bang Bang. With Scott Aukerman and Reggie Watts — Hilarity plus improv tunes.
- Anything by Joe Frank. Inspired Mitchell’s “The Truth” podcast above. Also check out his youtube videos, created for an ill-fated early 90’s CBS show. He was ahead of his time.