When To Listen To Podcasts Since Nobody Commutes Anymore

Anyone else missing to-and-from time?

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Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

Let’s not evaluate ourselves by our podcast numbers but…mine are down. Pretty damned down. After kicking off 2020 with a big, beautiful download spike (thank you Apple Podcasts homepage placement!) things were literally looking up. And then a global pandemic demanded that an entire planet not go anywhere and we all lost to-and-from time that use to be sacred. We did things during that time! Music! Radio shows! Dumb app games! We’re not listening to as many podcasts as we used to, it’s just a fact. This commute-less lifestyle we’re living means that I’ve lost a few thousand listeners and while it’s nothing in the grand scheme of things, in the less grand scheme of things it bums me out.

Therefore, I thought I might offer a few suggestions and ideas for when we might be able to rework listening to podcasts back into our days. Because the people that make podcasts are passionate people. We’re often creating weekly hour-long pieces of content that nobody is paying us for. We’re building audiences and communities around topics and ideas that drive us, but since no one is driving basically anywhere right now, I’m worried we’re not being heard.

Let’s not let books and movies get all the quarantine time-occupying glory, hmm? Below, a list of perfect moments for podcast listening, on behalf of myself and every other kitchen-table pod creator out there.

Chores. Have I organized my weeks so that I have to change my bed linens and fold my laundry the same day my favorite podcasts come out? Yes. Is it a life-uplevel that you should try yourself? Also yes. I think you’ll find that occupying your mind while your hands and body are occupied with something annoying makes the time and the task fly by. At the right volume, podcasts can make swift work of the dishes. Dusting the living room? A mere moment. Organizing the pantry? Pick a long one, but it can be done. Turn on a podcast episode or five and cross off every annoying chore that you actually really need to do because we’re home so damn much we notice filth.

Cooking. This one’s my personal favorite. You haven’t lived until you’ve chopped a bell pepper while listening to a comedy podcast, I’m telling you. There’s something very soothing about this. I don’t really understand the science but I’m sure there’s something significant happening somewhere in the mixture of auditory enjoyment and mise en place. Any recipe involving lots of ingredients and slicing is your friend here. Wine not required, but encouraged. I think you’ll find yourself inventing new food-related tasks just to keep listening. You’ll set an actual table just to make it through the episode. Don’t be surprised if you start topping everything with freshly chopped herbs simply because you wanted to keep listening to your podfriends. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. It’s nice.

Hair & Makeup. I can’t be the only person who enjoys listening to podcasts during hair and makeup. What, like I’m supposed to be left alone with my thoughts during this time? Hell no. I hate way too many people to mess with that. I really enjoy these everyday tasks when they’re accompanied by a cool conversation, and I think podcasts contribute to the success of my cat eyeliner, I really do. I’ve also tried listening while in the shower but I find that the water noise interference is a little bothersome. Perhaps I’d have better luck with a bath…

Puzzles. If you’ve managed to get your hands on a puzzle, first of all let me know where you got it, and second, you might want to put a pod on. Again, I think there’s some science here, but I always find that my puzzling efforts are better rewarded when there’s a podcast coming out of my phone and into my ears. I don’t understand it, but on the list of things happening right now that I don’t understand, this one ranks pretty low. A puzzle, a podcast, a pilsner. Show me a better evening. Also, did you know that when you’re done you can roll up a jigsaw puzzle? Fascinating.

Hobbies. However you like to creatively spend your time, podcasts want to spend it with you. I’ve never much cared for coloring, the resurgence of coloring books was entirely lost on me. Stickers have my attention, for sure, I’ve been shopping for sticker books grateful that they haven’t yet become a trend. I am also a magpie and enjoy covering everyday objects with crystals. I have a bedazzled contact lens case that I’m very proud of. Anyway, whether you knit or build model airplanes, podcasts provide a wonderful background for indulging in what brings you peace and joy. Hobbies can help lower anxiety and goodness knows we’re all stocked up on that right now.

While Walking. If you find the pressure of locating a good Spotify mix too much to bear, and the idea of talking to a human being on the phone repulses you, might I suggest a good podcast for your next quarantine walk? Charge those headphones, locate a mask, plan a route that involves as few human beings as possible. Plantar fasciitis-friendly shoes recommended, and in my case, required.

While Eating. I know this one might be an adjustment. We’re used to watching things while we eat, in fact I’ve been known to let full dishes get cold in search of something to occupy me such that I don’t have to converse with the cat over chickpea pasta. But I’m telling you, listening while eating is just as enjoyable as watching while eating, if not more so.

Just Sort Of On. Podcasts are excellent company. It’s weird, but I’ve come to consider the voices behind them as friends. I don’t feel as alone when there’s a conversation technically happening in my apartment. Whatever you’re up to, I strongly suggest finding a few podcasts that entertain, inspire, comfort, or amuse you. There are a lot of amazing podcasts and podcasters out there working hard during a pandemic to create the content their audiences love. They want you to know that podcasting is a medium not even a pandemic can curtail. They’re telling you they’re still here, and that you’re not alone. They’re not telling you everything going to be okay, only that they’ll keep talking into a microphone in the meantime. I suggest you listen.

Written by

NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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