21 best daily podcasts for your morning commute or routine


Whikst many people can’t even commit to brushing their teeth once a day, others find it in them to podcast on a daily basis, providing the perfect weekday companion to help listeners power through their commutes and morning routines.

Daily podcasts, though not considered their own genre, are a growing phenomenon. Ever since the news made every 24 hours feel like a thousand years, a cottage industry of morning recap shows have sprung up in the on-demand radio scene.

But not all daily podcast series are restricted to political news (thankfully). From pop culture to tech or even witchcraft, you can find any number of topics that someone has decided warrants covering at least five times a week.

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In the time warp of our current existence, the daily podcast is a lifeline. Even if every episode isn’t perfectly polished, they’re there for you, rain or shine — a reminder that tomorrow is always another day.

1. What A Day

A daily news podcast from the Pod Save America team, What A Day is headed up by a rotating lineup of co-hosts, including Gideon Resnick, Josie Duffy Rice, Tre’vell Anderson, and Priyanka Aribindi. In a sea of white dude daily news podcasts, the What A Day hosts often cover the more marginalized political stories that slip through the cracks elsewhere. [Adapted from our Best Podcasts with Black Hosts roundup]

2. The Daily Zeitgeist

An evolution of the popular Cracked podcast, this mixture of comedy, politics, internet, and pop culture news is one of the best ways to wake up. Day in and day out, co-hosts Jack O’Brien and Miles Gray bring on a special guest to laugh through the pain. While many of the biggest news items are covered, you’ll love The Daily Zeitgeist for its more offbeat interests — like the latest monstrosity to come out of trash fast food companies. They self-deprecatingly call themselves a second-rate podcast, but we think they’re one of the best pods with “daily” in the title.

3. Up First

In a similar vein, Up First from NPR is a show designed to inform you about the day ahead. It gives you the three biggest stories of the day in just 10 minutes. You know what’s up, then you move on with your day. Cannot beat that.

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4. Your Daily Drive

OK, this is a bit of a cheat because Your Daily Drive isn’t technically a podcast. But this customized Spotify playlist combines a mixture of daily news pods and music geared specifically to your tastes. As the title implies, it’s supposed to serve as a companion to your daily commute (even if many of us aren’t commuting right now). You can find your own customized playlist by clicking this link or search for Your Daily Drive playlist on Spotify.

5. Today in True Crime

Surprisingly illuminating, educational, and entertaining, the Today in True Crime podcast takes listeners back to some of the biggest criminal and justice-related incidents that happened on a given day. A step above most other time-machine-style podcasts, it expands the often narrow definition of true crime to include topics like Anita Hill’s testimony during Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court confirmation. Other episodes go much further back in time and overseas to cover a wide breadth of crime history.

6. Democracy Now!

A radio program up there with the best of NPR, Democracy Now! delivers daily global news with the same immediacy as the day it launched. Hosts Juan González and Amy Goodman cover the most pressing humanitarian and progressive issues, with a focus on the United States. It’s also available in Spanish.

7. The Daily Meditation Podcast

Listen, there are better meditation guides and exercises out there. Admittedly, I was more than a little taken aback by interjections of sponsors and (on one episode) a quote from the decidedly not zen Colin Powell. But casually practicing with someone else can be key to incorporating habitual mediation into your every lifestyle. Mutual dedication between host and listener is what makes this podcast valuable to your meditation journey.

8. Consider This

So you love NPR, but you don’t have an hour of your time to give it every day. Well, consider Consider This. A host of various NPR staples recap the day’s biggest stories in about 10-15 minutes, but with all the rigor and polish you’ve come to expect from the public radio titan. What’s more, the final few minutes are spent on local news — an integral but often overlooked aspect of a healthy news diet.

9. Vox’s Today, Explained

Today, Explained might seem like just another political podcast. But actually, it covers a much wider spectrum of brass-tacks daily culture and society stories (which, often, is unfortunately dominated by politics). A number of great hosts zero in on one story for 20-30 minutes, whether it’s a crafty magician saving theater during the pandemic or the class of college kids graduating during the pandemic.

10. Stuff You Should Know

A favorite of many podcast listeners, the long-running Stuff You Should Know was so popular it spawned its own dedicated network (including other daily podcasts in a similar vein, like Stuff You Missed in History Class.) Since it covers everything under the sun, it’s important to note that hosts Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant admit to not being experts on all these topics. Some with deep knowledge of certain subjects might even find their summaries frustratingly surface level. But they do a great job of at least sparking interest in a lot of important things we should all know about, which hopefully inspires listeners to research beyond what can be tackled in an hour.

11. The Daily

The New York Times The Daily is pretty much an obligatory inclusion on this list. It delivers the news you have to know each day, which is often filtered through a political lens. Political journalist Michael Barbaro hosts the show and while it’s often kind of a downer — the news isn’t great these days — it is also a good primer for the day. [From our Best Politics Podcasts roundup]

12. The Witch Daily Show

By this point — after you’ve listened to a lot of essential but exhausting news — you could probably use a break from reality. That’s where The Daily Witch comes in. While not the highest production endeavor, it’s a charming magical addition to your feed with news from the witch community, relevant topics for practitioners, and resource recommendations. Also there’s tea. Lots of tea.

13. BBC’s Global News

If you can believe it, this is actually a twice a day podcast from the venerated BBC that summarizes the top world news of the day in under 30 minutes. More than ever, it’s easy for Americans to lose sight of the importance of being citizens of the globe rather than just our clusterfuck of a country. Global News is a needed reminder of everything else happening that national media organizations generally don’t cover, from many of the best correspondents around the world.

14. BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour

Admittedly, this radio show’s tagline of “a female perspective on the news” sounds pretty cringe at first blush. But in reality, BBC Radio’s Woman’s Hour offers a much-needed coalescence of current events affecting women around the world. If anything, by highlighting news for and about women, it only goes to show exactly how excluded women are from every other hour of news reporting. [From our Best Feminist Podcasts roundup]

15. Daily Tech News Show

Increasingly, you need to know the ins and outs of tech and Silicon Valley if you have any hope of staying on top of what’s happening in the world. Unfortunately, a lot of old-guard journalism is not well-equipped to understand the minutiae of tech and the industry’s consequences. Host Tom Merritt is joined by a rotating roster of co-hosts (including Sarah Lane, Justin Robert Young, and Roger Chang) to distill all the tech news in a way that’s digestible to the layperson.

16. Poem A Day

Providing a needed and fruitful break from the onslaught of life, the Academy of American Poets’ official podcast delivers a wonderful assortment of unpublished but talented poets reading their own work. Usually, episodes are no more than 2-5 minutes, and often feature marginalized voices, with a special 2020 summer series centered around Black poets.

17. Fresh Air

Yet another NPR essential, Fresh Air focuses on interviews with the biggest names in contemporary art, culture, academia, and social issues. Hosted by the legendary Terry Gross, it offers uniquely intimate conversations with big names that offer a lot of grounded insights into otherwise esoteric topics.

18. The Indicator

Fans of Planet Money probably already know that its smaller, daily sister podcast is a knockout. But for those a little less interested in talk of money stuff, NPR’s The Indicator is a great gateway drug. Tackling smaller yet still robust and integral stories related to work, business, and the economy, you’ll be surprised by how much crucial information you can gain in just 10 minutes.

19. Curiosity Daily

Curiosity Daily is kind of like the r/TodayILearned subreddit but in podcast form. Every weekday, you can learn something new from co-hosts Nate Bonham and Calli Gade. They offer 10-15 minute summaries of interesting, research-backed news and facts relevant to our everyday lives from the science, psychology, and technology fields.

20. What Next

Slate offers the latest addition to the daily news podcasting scene, with a similar approach to The Daily that dives into one main story each weekday. However, rather than a more narrow focus on the biggest headline, host Mary Harris tackles timely yet lesser-known and more specific subjects.

21. This Day in History Class

If you like Stuff You Missed in History Class but don’t have an hour to devote to it, this abbreviated 5-10 minute version of the show is for you. It flashes back to important events that happened on this specific day, like a little audio time machine.

22. The Writer’s Almanac

There’s some comfort to be found in brief dalliances with the (for lack of a better term) Old Fart’s conceit of capital “L” Literature. The Writer’s Almanac by Prairie Home Productions is a daily five-minute podcast that feels about as antiquated as the notable historical and literary events it covers from that given day’s past (like the sinking of the Titanic or recording of Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit”). You can practically hear the host’s handlebar mustache as he ends each episode with a classic poetry reading. As a quick teleportation into the past, it makes a lovely and unintrusive addition to one’s daily pre-writing podcast roster (if that’s what you’re into). [From our Best Podcasts for Writers list]

You can’t fit all of these into your daily routine. But with such a wide and increasingly diverse array of topics covered, there’s a podcast for everyone to enjoy on an everyday basis.

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