This is kind of a combination of spoopy (a.k.a. spooky) podcasts and true crime in honor of Halloween approaching — my favorite season (Halloween is an entire season, dammit!) and holiday. I like to mix the fact with the fiction to give myself a good balance. I’ve been a fan of the increasingly spookier Black Tapes & TANIS since their inception, but thanks to a coworker’s recommendation, I gave My Favorite Murder a try — and immediately loved it. But it sent me spiraling into an obsession with true crime that I’d buried deep down. I’m sure I’ve said it before, but The X-Files has been my favorite show since I was 5, so that makes me a pretty weird kid already. I also used to watch Forensic Files, Unsolved Mysteries, Rescue 911 all throughout childhood. I remember children started disappearing in St. Louis in the early 90s and every evening the TV would ask: “It’s 5 o’clock, do you know where your children are?” The JonBenet Ramsey murder and OJ Simpson madness was on in the background of my early childhood, as well. I could go on and on. Anyway, I flippin’ love true crime, horror, and devouring as much creepy/horrifying media I can get my hands on — from documentaries to TV series to movies, and of course, podcasts.
So, fall down the spoopy/true crime hole with me this fall. Here are 6 podcasts to get you started on your journey:
The Black Tapes
Alex Reagan weaves a creepy tale in The Black Tapes as she navigates the world of demonology, ghosts, and other supernatural occurrences with her skeptical partner in crime, Dr. Strand. He and Nic Silver are there to keep her grounded in reality as she takes the Mulder approach of wanting to believe in everything while retaining her journalistic integrity and morality. As she reports on the increasingly strange encounters, more connections become apparent that only increase the listeners questions of what’s happening, how Strand is connected, and how deep the mystery goes. There have been two seasons so far and it only gets better with each one.
Funny story: I definitely did not know this was a fiction podcast for the first few episodes. So, when I got to one of the first truly terrifying episodes, The Unsound, I was listened wide-eyed, wondering if I should actually be listening to this. “Am I gonna die a year after listening to this?” It’s been more than a year, so I’m good, y’all. Also, it’s fiction, so you’re all fine. (But how I wish it wasn’t…)
My Favorite Murder
“You’re in a cult! Call your dad!” If you love true crime stories told by two hilarious ladies (Karen Kilgariff & Georgia Hardstark), you will definitely enjoy this podcast. They make terrible, horrible murders fun! Okay, not fun, but their commentary makes enduring the details of some of the worst crimes and horrific incidents much more bearable. In every episode of My Favorite Murder, Georgia and Karen each present their favorite murder story. Sometimes they’re ridiculous or themed (80s murders, child murderers, etc.), and sometimes they’re so horrifying that they’ve even made me shed a few tears or rethink how I live my life. They also encourage listeners to send in their hometown murders, which makes the entire experience interactive in a way. They’re very engaged with their murderinos, which is lovely. (I mean, my tweets have been fav’d by MFM and Georgia on several occasions. *insert hairflip emoji*) And us murderinos like to sit crooked and talk straight.
To be honest, the two I Survived stories that Karen has told messed me up way more than any of the full-on murder ones (though they’re all tragic, obviously). Enjoy episode 18 (and 33) if you also want to be messed up for life and maybe cry a little in public while you’re grocery shopping at Jewel. If you’ve seen me recently, odds are I’ve told you the I Survived story from ep 18 myself and you don’t want to talk to me anymore. But most importantly, this podcast is very quotable and offers up some great advice on how to stay sexy and not get murdered. SSDGM! Byeeeee!
There are wondrous things. TANIS is the sister show to the Black Tapes. It takes place in the same universe and features a bit of crossover of characters, but it’s definitely it’s own story entirely. This one is not strictly horror as it’s based more in science, mysticism, and conspiracy. But it is extremely creepy and features some of the greatest storytelling I’ve ever heard. There are magical things. The finale of season 1 messed me up, man. Our hero, Nic Silver, investigates the myth of TANIS, with the help of cyber-info-specialist Meerkatnip (MK) and several other fascinating, potentially (some most definitely) untrustworthy characters. There are dangerous things. I had my own TANIS encounter when I traveled to the Pacific Northwest earlier this year, and it all seems more plausible than ever when you’re deep in the woods, surrounded by slugs and snails, with seemingly no way out with The Blur pressing in… We get what we deserve.
I don’t even know how to explain TANIS — I don’t think anyone can. All you can do is listen and explore the mystery for yourself. Runners wanted.
Real Crime Profile
“This is not battered woman syndrome; this is murdered woman syndrome.” Whenever Laura Richards speaks, I just want to shout, “YAS KWEEN!” I watched all of the People vs. OJ Simpson drama (which was pretty good, honestly), and thanks to a friend’s rec, I checked out this podcast’s coverage of the show and the facts behind it. I was a kid when that all went down, so I didn’t know any of the details. Most importantly, I knew nothing about Nicole Simpson and all the horrors she experienced before she was murdered. This podcast offers a fantastic analysis from people who currently work or have worked on murder investigations/criminal profiling. Nicole’s murder spans several episodes, and they all offer insight into the domestic abuse and violence, and the media coverage surrounding the trial and how that impacted everything. The standout episode for me was the analysis of Nicole’s 911 call when OJ broke into her home. It’s hard to listen to knowing what her ultimate fate was, and it’s incredibly infuriating when the 911 operator asks her: “Is he upset with something that you did?” But Laura Richards is the best, and the OJ episodes are definitely worth checking out.
Lore is a bit more mystical, soothing even. Aaron Menke tells extremely well-researched tales that are sometimes completely true, while others lean toward the unexplainable. His topics range from supernatural creatures with roots in truth (vampires, gnomes, witches) to tales of murder, mysterious deaths, strange occurrences, and weird people and events throughout history. I like to listen to this podcast while I’m chilling out before bed because it’s a relaxing, albeit creepy bedtime story. The only one that I had to stop listening to and wait until it was daylight was #15 “Unboxed,” which is about Robert the Doll. Listen to the episode and then google it. Enjoy! That was just too much for me to handle in the dark alone, but it was super good. And my favorite episode besides that has been #23 “Rope and Railing” about lighthouses. Lighthouses are so creepy, I love them.
Sword & Scale
This podcast is not for the faint of heart — and that’s after only listening to a few episodes. Sword & Scale features upsetting 911 calls, interviews with real killers, and media coverage from real murders. But damn, it is so good, so horrifying, and makes me uncomfortable listening to these real people who committed real, awful crimes. There are even deep analyses from experts of sociopaths, psychopaths, and more, and why they may have committed these crimes. Episode 4 really messed me up, and I still have so many more to go!
Honorable Mentions: Thinking Sideways, Serial, Someone Knows Something, The NoSleep Podcast, Missing Maura Murray, Limetown, In the Dark, Last Podcast on the Left
What are you favorite true crime/spoopy podcasts? Let me know in the comments!
~Stay tuned because next week, I’ll give you some scary/true crime movie/doc recs! Let me be your guide this fall.~