FT Picks: The 7 Best Podcasts for your Commute

Commutes suck.

There are no two ways about it – nobody on this planet wants to have their face pressed into the increasingly sweatier armpit of a stranger for minutes at a time.

Nobody wants to dodge the falling elbow of that guy who just can’t accept that he doesn’t have enough hands to read the Metro, change his music and hold on to the handrail as the train hurls around the corner.And nobody – we repeat, nobody – wants to get stuck in a two-mile jam on the M25 at 6pm on a Friday.

However, at Frederick Thomas, we’ve discovered one thing that makes commutes bearable. Actually – dare we say it – we’ve discovered something that makes commutes enjoyable.


Now, we’re not the first people to say this (not by a long stretch) but at Frederick Thomas, we’ve discovered that listening to podcasts on anything from politics to movies to football can make the time you spend getting from home to work and back again decent. Some days, we even look forward to it.

But there is a catch – pick a dud podcast and it just exacerbates all of the problems with your commute. The only thing worse than a smelly pit to the face is a smelly pit to the face while you listen to some boring man drone on about the economy.

That’s why it’s important to make sure you pick the right podcast to listen to. You need to have a vetted list of podcasts for your commute. Something that ticks all of the boxes – funny, informative and enjoyable – across any subject you might be interested in.

So here is that vetted list; our choice of the very best podcasts for you commute.

FT’s favourite podcasts for your commute:

WTF with Marc Maron: for unwinding or gently waking up


If you’re new to podcasts, you might never have heard of this podcast before – but if you’re even slightly familiar with podcasting, we’d bet our house you’ve heard of it.

And for good reason.

Marc interviews a different celebrity guest each week, but it’s much more than idle chit chat. He asks deep questions, gets honest answers and even has frank disagreements with them. It’s great. If you’re new to podcasts, be sure to delve deep into the backlog of WTFs. (But start with the Louis CK or Barack Obama ones.)

Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review: for staying up to date with the latest film news (and stealing some of Mark Kermode’s opinions as your own).


If you’ve ever caught Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode on Radio 5, you’ll know that theirs is the best film programme around.

But if you don’t have time to tune in live, you can catch up on the latest film news and reviews on this podcast. But that’s not why you want to download it – oh no. You’re going to want to download this podcast for Mark Kermode’s opinions – when a film is good, you can steal his opinions as to why you liked it. But when it’s bad, that’s when you don’t want to miss the podcast: Mark often goes into huge long ‘Kermodean’ rants about the latest films.

As a little taster, here’s Mark’s opinion on Sex and the City 2:

Coffee House Shots: for staying up to date with everything


For those of you that don’t have time to read a newspaper, but want to stay up to date with the latest issues, this Spectator podcast is for you. In a snappy podcast (normally only about ten minutes long) they run through the talking points of important political news and discuss what it might mean.

My Dad Wrote a Porno: to cheer you up (and make you laugh)


Imagine discovering that your Dad had dabbled in writing a bit of erotic fiction. What would you do? You’d probably read it to your mates and have a laugh, right?

That’s exactly what Jamie Morton did when he discovered that his retired father had attempted to write something along the lines of ’50 Colours of Grey’. Jamie gathers his two best mates - James Cooper and Alice Levine (the Radio 1 DJ) – and they read a chapter of it every week, stopping to laugh, question and ponder his dad’s Mills-and-Boon level erotica.

This is one of the essential podcasts for your commute – you’ll laugh away any residual grumpiness by the time you’re at the office.

Serial: to keep you intrigued (and forget about the traffic)


If you’re a fan of Making a Murderer (or any true crime documentary, for that matter) you have to listen to Serial. It’s one of the podcasts that made podcasting huge, and for good reason – it unfolds like a TV show as Sarah Koenig sorts through thousands of documents, ever-changing testimonies, shifty testimonies and a lack of forensic evidence to try and uncover whether Adnan Syed – who is in prison for murder – actually killed high-school student Hae Min Lee in 1999.

Season Two takes a completely different story that unfolds like a true-life Homeland.

We won’t spoil any more, but if you’re a fan of true crime, real stories or intriguing mysteries, you can’t miss Serial.

Stuff You Should Know: to make you the most interesting person in the room


This is a pretty Ronseal podcast – it’s pretty much about stuff you should know.

From informative pods like ‘How LSD works’ to pods on social, political or historical topics that are still relevant know, Josh and Chuck from How Stuff Works take you through a whistlestop overview of the topic. Perfect for peppering your pint-side conversations with cool facts (and particularly good for pub quizzes).

Freakonomics: to provoke thought and kick-start your brain


Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner – both authors of the book the podcast is based on – take a look into the ‘hidden side of everything’.

Each week, they explore the ‘riddles of everyday life and the weird wrinkles of human nature’ to come to strangely compelling conclusions. If you like hearing people think outside of the box, this is the podcast for you.