In honor of the spookiest time of the year, I present you with my favorite creepy podcasts to listen to with the lights on — because we're adults, but we're not unshakable. If you're currently going through a stage where you can't perform any functions without having a podcast playing in the background, you'll appreciate this curation.
That said, I will warn you that the podcasts I'm about to share with you do not include the kind of fluffy storytelling that can just float behind whatever tabs you have open or tasks you have ahead of you. These are the kinds of programs that have you frozen with your mouth agape, your ears burning, your eyes wide, staring at your screen like it's 1927 and you're waiting for a crucial Herbert Hoover radio address.
But while some of the stories you're about to hear are not national news, many of them are real stories — or at least real to the people who experienced them. And while the spook factor is undoubtably present, what I like best about these podcasts is the craft of the narration. These storytellers wrap you around their airwaves and even though you're scared, you're willing to listen to anything they want to tell you. Kiss your productivity goodbye and turn the lights up, here are the best creepy podcasts to spook yourself with right now:
Host Mike Kelton is first and foremost a comedian, but what is revealed to listeners in his podcast is that he's a deeply spiritual empath with a knack for finding himself feeling particularly eloquent in otherworldly situations. Beyond is a cannon ball into the spirit world. As a listener, it's easy to take Kelton's hand, following his charisma and punchy sass, but then you find yourself down a dark hole where there are heavy-footed ghosts in the night and demonic furniture pieces in the living room. Listening to Beyond is like this: "Hahahaha! Ha ha! Ha! Ha— Wait, what? WHAT? STOP! Noooo! Oh. My. God." It's as if Serial was injected with the spirit of a Unicorn Frappuccino — and it's just as addictive. Oh, and perfect timing, season two just launched.
Betsy Sodaro and Marcy Jarreau are funny people, to be sure, but their enthusiasm for the spirit world will make you a believer, if for no other reason than to just listen to this podcast. With a worthy guest woven into every episode, this program is constantly fresh. With over 50 episodes already banked, you'll be surprised by just how many of them you're willing to consume in one sitting. A Funny Feeling is a non-stop flow of silly-yet-chilling stories, told by a such a lively brunch that half the time you feel like you're eavesdropping in on a group of old friends telling scary stories over a few drinks. The hosts are so excited to hear the stories and the guests are so excited to tell the stories, as a listener you're excited just to be a part of it, even though most of the episodes will leave you feeling totally freaked out once all the excitement dies down. It's all fun and games and friends when you're in the middle of an episode, but when it ends, you're just alone and paranoid — but that's the feeling you're after, after all!
Swaggy spooky is Snap Judgment Presents: Spooked. The sound production in this series is cinematic and worthy of its own fear factor, but the ghost stories will scare the crap out of you. Host Glynn Washington begins every episode by using his rich and soulful voice to lure you into a calm and inspired state that makes it all the more freaky when the storyteller, aka, victim of the haunting comes on sounding still scared from the experience. Expect your senses to be heightened, your nerves to be fired and your eyes to play tricks on you for the rest of the day. This podcast is straight spooky.
You know when you watch a really good and creepy TV show, you feel kind of weird for the rest of the day? You're kind of paranoid and nervous and concerned that nothing is really as it seems? That's what listening to Alice Isn't Dead by the creators of Welcome to Night Vale is like. It's produced fiction, which means that it literally sounds like you're listening to a horror series on TV, it's got all of the same production value, but the fact you can't see these characters and have to imagine them and don't have any visual clues makes it all the more creepy. In short, it's a serial fiction podcast following a truck driver who is looking for her lost wife, whom she believes to be alive, though it's clear from the beginning that something supernatural is in the way of this mystery unfolding and is definitely going to come into view.
If you've ever fallen into a rabbit hole reading horror stories on Reddit, and you kind of love to hate it, this podcast is for you. Literally, No Sleep is inspired by r/nosleep on Reddit, and you'll find the same breed of horror on the podcast. Though it's very clearly labeled an on-going work of fiction, you'll find it hard to separate what you're hearing from what's real and what's not. The impressive performances by the narrators adds to the overall production definitely amplify the creep value, too. If you have any expectations for a peaceful night's sleep, do not listen to this podcast before bed, you've been warned!
If more questions without answers freak you out, this podcast is going to keep you up at night theorizing just what happened in the never resolved mysteries presented in the series. As is suggested in the title, this podcast, lead by Richard MacLean Smith, looks at real life murder mysteries, disappearances, and chilling acts and leaves the cases open. For some reason, not knowing how it all wraps up in the end is far more scary than any details at all. There's currently 104 episodes, so hurry up and start binging.
Aaron Mahnke’s podcast looks at non-fiction stories. Aka, each episode features a true story, so chilling you'll wish it was fiction. The podcast's tagline "sometimes the truth is more frightening than fiction" is an understatement. The series is award winning, with thousands of rave reviews, because despite how scary Mahnke's unaffected, unruffled, storytelling style is, these historical tales are addictive. So addictive there's a Lore TV show already on its second season. To date, there's 124 episodes, so start listening.
The tone of this podcast, hosted by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark is that of two friends chatting about silly gossip. In reality, they're sharing gruel-some murder stories in the most surprising and relatable way. They bring a sense of human and lightness to a dark subject, which makes each episode feel like a warm campfire story telling session. Each episode features a different murder tale or home time crime story — aka these are not big Hollywood stories, they're the smaller ones that wouldn't otherwise be shared with such an audience. Like Beyond with Mike Kelton, this is the kind of horror podcast that will give you goosebumps and belly laughs.
Pretty Scary is a podcast with spooky sound mixing and effects, that covers true crime, ghosts, aliens, and everything else we don't understand. It's funny, it's kitschy, it's low-key, but it's also deeply creepy. Hosted by comics Adam Tod Brown, Caitlin Cutt, and Kari Martin, there's a lot of laughing, but what you'll remember from each episode is not what you laughed about, it's what terrifying story you're still trying to wrap your head around. The fact that the tone is so light makes the actual horror stories way more upsetting, becuase you're not bracing yourself for it.
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