Best podcasts to start your day
Best podcasts to start your day

The Most
Insightful Podcasts to Start Your Day

Back in 2015, the Oxford American Dictionary chose "Podcast" as the word of the year, raising two important questions. First, have they really been around that long? And second, was that portmanteau really the best name we could come up with?

Fortunately, the popularity and volume of these episodic audio files has increased in the last decade and according to Apple, there are 525,000 active shows that have created over 18.5 million episodes to choose from.

Some podcasts temporarily capture our collective attention, like WBEZ Chicago's murder mystery "Serial," while others are a slow and consistent burn, like the weekly show "This American Life" that has been in podcast form since 2012, covering nearly every topic imaginable.

If you're just testing the waters, the top of the charts is a great starting point—political commentators, sports journalists, thought-leaders and the pop culture obsessed alike have all adopted the medium to reach their audience, making it easy to find something for any taste.

Here at Valet. we've combed through some of our favorites to find the best series to help break up your daily commute, inject a little knowledge or shed light on a new skill that might improve your everyday life.

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Our Picks

The Daily podcast

The Daily

A hallmark of consistency, every morning the New York Times' Michael Barbaro breaks down the news in 20 minutes with today's most important headlines in an informal yet informative tone. It's the perfect backdrop while getting ready for work and as easy as saying "Alexa, play 'The Daily' podcast."

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Freakonomics podcast

Freakonomics

Five years after the New York Times best seller was released, the bi-weekly podcast dropped, offering up stories that blend together pop culture and the economics that shape our everyday lives. There are over 340 episodes that help explain some of the most common financial questions we're too afraid to ask and we guarantee you'll feel smarter for listening.

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99% Invisible podcast

99% Invisible

Even without a deep passion of architecture or design, it's easy to enjoy the stories that make up this series that debuted in 2010. Host Roman Mars has touched style topics such as the Toronto Raptors cartoonish basketball jerseys, and the public reaction in 1968 when police in Menlo Park started dressing more formally in "The Blazer Experiment." The ultimate compliment might be that this podcast has made flag design interesting. Really.

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Hidden Brain podcast

Hidden Brain

Combining science with storytelling, host Shankar Vedantam sits down with experts to uncover the unconscious concepts that shape our decision making from what we wear and say to how people perceive us ("Never Go To Vegas"). This NPR series may be more science-heavy, but it's the perfect catalyst to wake up the left side of your brain when coffee won't cut it.

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Stuff You Should Know podcast

Stuff You Should Know

With over one million weekly downloads and a catalog of one thousand episodes, SYSK is consistently on of the most interesting and well-produced podcasts around. Hosts Charles W. "Chuck" Bryant and Josh Clark extensively research topics like how bars, fear, lefties or jet lag work while injecting enough dad-humor and personal anecdotes to keep things light.

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HBR Ideacast podcast

HBR Ideacast

Harvard Business Review's completely free podcast is about $48,000 cheaper than hearing some of the sharpest minds in the world lecture in person at the Ivy League university. There are over 600 episodes, coming in around 20 minutes each, including topics everyone can use like "How To Ask Better Questions" to more niche leaderships tactics for C-suite executives to consider.

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The popular app Overcast allows you to speed up any podcast, so if you're looking to power through an episode more efficiently, try listening at 1.5x speed and adjust accordingly.

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