It’s that special time of year again when everyone is looking for a good scary story. And though podcasts more often conjure up the images of gentle interviews with creative types and soothing NPR voices, more shows are moving into the territory of old-school radio plays, producing unsettling (and addictive) stories from true crime to horror. I hope you brought an extra pair of pants, ’cause these podcasts bring the terror.
This award-winning podcast hosted by author Aaron Mahnke takes a look at the true stories behind common folklore, tall tales, and hauntings. Each episode is about a different topic and dives deep into the depths of our real history to uncover the dark side of human nature. You’ll quickly learn that the truth is often stranger — and scarier — than fiction.
What originally started as an occasional special episode of the Snap Judgment podcast hosted by Glynn Washington has since morphed into its own show. Spooked is all real stories from real people about ghosts, monsters, curses, and other run-ins with the unknown. It’s fairly new as a standalone show, so don’t expect a huge backlog to dig through, but it’s great stuff. It will only take one episode to get you completely hooked and wanting more.
This podcast from Two-Up Productions follows American Public Radio investigative reporter Lia Haddock, who’s looking into the mysterious disappearance of over 300 people at a neuroscience research facility in Tennessee. If the popular podcast Serial was focused on the darkly bizarre and unexplained it would sound like this.
This podcast, from the folks who brought you Welcome to Night Vale, is a series of audio diaries from a truck driver in search of her wife — who she thought was dead. During her cross country journey she encounters all kinds of mysterious places and dangers. If you’re into surreal, creepy small town vibes a la Twin Peaks, this podcast is worth a listen.
Another great fake non-fiction-style podcast about a radio program host — the make believe Alex Reagan — who’s investigating the unsolved cases or “black tapes” of fictional paranormal investigator Dr. Richard Strand. Everything feels just real enough to send chills up your spine. If you like an NPR-style approach to your scares, this show is a lot of fun.
If some campfire storytelling is what you’re after, the Knifepoint Horror podcast is for you. These tales are less productions and more like simple, unsettling confessions. Host Soren Narnia uses almost nothing but her voice to tell you a tale that’s just real enough to make you question every shadow you see at night.
This podcast is hosted by Daniel Foytik features stories from a wide variety of independent horror authors who are looking to give you a heart attack. Each episode features a new story read by one of the show’s excellent readers, interviews, and music from indie composers. Think of The Wicked Library as a grand indie horror showcase.
This popular horror fiction anthology began as the NoSleep subreddit where users would exchange their best scary stories and frightening experiences. Soon it became a podcast where the best stories were turned into audiobook style stories you could listen to on the go. The only rule is each story must be told in the first person as if the story really happened. Every episode contains around five stories to keep you up at night.
This podcast has been delivering real ghost stories from real people since 2006. The show is a mix of host Lex Wahl reading personal paranormal experiences and local ghost legends sent in via email and callers sharing their own tales of terror. Depending on story length, each episode delivers five to 10 stories you’ll want to listen to with the lights off.