Halloween is right around the corner, so now is an excellent time to pop in a pair of earbuds and listen to a creepy podcast. Here’s a brief list of a few that should get you ready for the spooky season.
“Welcome to Night Vale”
“Welcome to Night Vale” is based on a fictional radio program that tracks the wacky supernatural happenings of a desert town called Night Vale — and treats them as absolutely normal.
This podcast is a little more on the silly side of horror, but its tone ranges from ironic to chilling. Mysterious divine messengers, strange government agencies and an extremely menacing city council are all just a regular Tuesday for the people of this quirky little town.
The show’s main character, radio host extraordinaire Cecil Gershwin Palmer (Cecil Baldwin), plays off the show’s absurd storylines with just the right amount of deadpan seriousness, and the effect is equal parts disconcerting and funny.
Listening to this show can distract a little bit from real life’s mundane horrors for a while with its offbeat and mildly unsettling charm. When the real news is stranger than fiction, it’s good to relax to an episode or two of “Welcome to Night Vale.”
“Your Own Backyard” Content Warning: Sexual Assault / Violence
“Your Own Backyard” lands solidly in the “serious” territory, with a thorough investigation of the real disappearance of Kristin Smart. Journalist Chris Lambert does a deep dive into a tragedy that’s all too similar to hundreds of stories across the country, and his search for answers reveals some uncomfortable truths.
This show is hard-hitting true crime, and provides more than just entertainment. Some of the interviews Lambert conducts are difficult to listen to because of their emotional intensity, and the whole miniseries has a distinct reverence for the tragedy it explores. Sexual assault and deadly violence are discussed, so listen at your own discretion.
“The Magnus Archives”
“The Magnus Archives” is a chilling and thrilling horror podcast filled with haunting tales of the paranormal.
The first episodes are all tape recordings of a single narrator (Jonathan Sims), who claims to be the head archivist of a fictional, shadowy agency in London called the “Magnus Institute.”
Throughout the show, the archivist digs through old, disorganized paper records and takes the audience along his frantic search for answers. After a few chilling tales of land-dwelling anglerfish, psychic vampires and notebook-eating neighbors, it’s hard to stop listening to “The Magnus Archives.”
This show is absolutely a must-listen for horror fans. It’s full of descriptions that will make listeners’ skin crawl and twist endings that’ll make them listen to the next episode.
“The Orange Tree” Content Warning: Violence
In another true crime piece, journalistic duo Haley Butler and Tinu Thomas do their best to report the facts of a disturbing murder case and its impact on the lives of all the people involved.
In 2005, Jennifer Cave was murdered at the Orange Tree Condos in Austin, Texas. Butler and Thomas make an effort to do the story justice as they take a human and empathetic perspective on the horrific event. Although many true crime podcasts get caught up in a morbid fascination with dark and grisly details, “The Orange Tree” explores the impact of violent crime on the people who experience it secondhand.
“The Orange Tree” isn’t really for fans of the macabre and disturbing — it’s eye opening to the serious emotional repercussions of the violence people can become a little too fascinated with. If a more nuanced perspective is what you’re looking for, “The Orange Tree” is for you.
Episodes of all four podcasts can be found on Spotify.