If you’ve been following this blog for a little while, you’ll know that I absolutely love Friday the 13th (the day, not the movie) and regularly use it as an excuse to delve into something creepy. Sadly, today is the only Friday the 13th of the WHOLE YEAR, so I’m really going to have to make it count!
While I’ve talked about some of my favorite horror movies in the past, I thought I would mix it up today and share my five favorite podcasts that explore all sorts of things that go bump in the night. Enjoy!
1. I first heard of The Black Tapes podcast back in February when Geoffrey Fuller of Cupcakes & Cashmere mentioned it in a post. Since I had fully jumped on the podcast bandwagon by then and was already tearing through things like Limetown and Lore, I immediately downloaded all of the episodes up to that point and binge-listened to them in about a weekend.
TBT, like several of the podcasts on this list, is a docudrama but it is so well done that it’s easy to forget it’s fiction. Though the podcast is originally billed as a profile of Dr. Richard Strand, a skeptical paranormal investigator, things take a turn when reporter Alex Reagan discovers his unsolved cases, the so-called Black Tapes. What follows is, as the show’s website says, “one journalist’s search for truth, her enigmatic subject’s mysterious past, and the literal and figurative ghosts that haunt them both.” The episodes are deliciously creepy and I absolutely love it! (Note: TBT does center on demonic haunts, so if that isn’t your thing, you might want to try something else.)
2. Like TBT, I first discovered Aaron Mahnke’s Lore podcast through someone else: OZY’s Libby Coleman (her post was also how I heard about Criminal, which is another really great listen!). But unlike TBT, Lore focuses on the real-life stories behind some of our most popular legends. As Mahnke says on his site: “Our fears have roots. [And] Lore exposes the darker side of history, exploring the creatures, people, and places of our wildest nightmares.”
All of the tales Mahnke tells are thoroughly researched (a job I would love to have!) and range from spooky to eerie to creepy to heartbreaking. He really runs the gamut and proves that sometimes, truth can be weirder than fiction.
3. Unlike the other shows on this list, which follow more of a narrative pattern, Nerdist’s Bizarre States is more of a gabfest than anything else. Hosted by Jessica Chobot and Andrew Bowser, Bizarre States is a weekly look at whatever “spooky shit” has come across their desks, including strange stories they’ve seen in the news, creepy books they’ve discovered while conducting research, and listener stories. They also occasionally have guests who share their own experiences with the paranormal.
As with any conversation, Bizarre States can go off the rails a bit, but I always have fun tuning in and hearing more about “dark Pinterest” and other oddities I know nothing about!
4. Though I only recently discovered Welcome to Night Vale, the podcast has actually been around since 2012. Luckily for me, that means a ton of episodes to catch up on!
Told “in the style of community updates,” WtNV chronicles everyday occurrences in the eponymous desert town – occurrences like upcoming football games against hated rival Desert Bluffs, PTA meetings, announcements from the Sheriff’s Secret Police, and updates on a noxious glow cloud that rains dead animals (All Hail the Glow Cloud!).
Every story is delivered in a sort of deadpan by local radio personality Cecil Palmer (voiced by Cecil Baldwin), which makes the absurdist humor even more fun. I also really appreciate the fact that each episode is about 20-25 minutes long, which is perfect for my morning commute!
5. Like TBT, Limetown is a fictional podcast involving an investigative journalist – Lia Haddock – who quickly becomes a part of the story herself. In this case, the story centers on a small town in Tennessee, where over 300 men, women, and children disappeared without a trace more than 10 years ago.
While the show can be a little overwrought at times, I really do love the fact that the creators have woven in things like news reports, taped interviews, voicemails, etc. Those little details really help flesh out the alternate universe they’ve created and reminds me of places like Los Alamos (real) or Eureka (fictional) – government-created towns that are supposed to lead the way to the future, but where something inevitably goes wrong.