With Halloween right around the corner, the time is nigh for getting into the ghostly spirit: mind, body and twisted soul! Sometimes it feels like we’re already living inside a horror movie, with the Great Trumpkin in office and “30 Rock” leaving Netflix, among other real-life terrors. But thanks to podcasts, we can tune in, tune out and live in denial of our frightening reality for a while — by freaking ourselves out even more with stories of true crime, made-up horrors and everything in between. Here are some of our favorite scary podcasts for the Halloween season; if you like what you hear, listen year-round to keep your spook game strong.
"My Favorite Murder"
"Let’s sit crooked and talk straight." Every week on “My Favorite Murder,” hosts Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff exchange their favorite true-crime tales that typically end with, you guessed it, murder. Touching on everything from serial killers to cannibalism to “I Survived” recaps, HardKil captivates listeners with their truthful, unabashed storytelling and honest and relatable reactions (“Oh my god, can you describe my face right now?”).
MFM also hosts weekly mini-sodes sharing emailed-in tales of hometown murders and almost-death encounters from Murderinos (aka, the fans), and tours internationally with their live show. With female empowerment vibes, cameos by Hardstark's cat Elvis, and cross-stitch worthy catchphrases like “Toxic Masculinity Ruins the Party Again!” and “Consider Me Always Wrong,” this podcast indulges all your murder-esque fascinations, while also instilling real-life advice on how to "stay sexy and don't get murdered."
Ever wonder where your favorite scary stories got their origin? “Lore” creator Aaron Mahnke has some answers. On the popular podcast, he explores the real-life roots of so many horror legends, from vampires to werewolves, and offers theories behind universal fears, like of the dark or hospitals.
A phenomenon since its debut two years ago, “Lore” was recently turned into an Amazon series combining animation, dramatizations and Mahnke’s narratives of some of the podcast’s most popular episodes.
(Fictional Radio Drama)
“What happened to the people of Limetown?” On February 8th, 2004, Limetown, a fictional neuroscience research facility in Tennessee was found abandoned and void of its 300-odd residents after a 911 call was made requesting emergency response.
In this seven-part radio drama written and directed by Zack Akers and produced by Skip Bronkie, listeners follow reporter Lia Haddock (played by actress Annie-Sage Whitehurst) as she investigates the mystery. With “Twin Peaks”/Roanoake vibes throughout, this tale unfolds with so many surprises that if it were a book, we wouldn’t be able to put it down.
"Last Podcast on the Left"
(Black Comedy/True Crime/Paranormal)
If three grown men screaming into a microphone is up your alley, then “Last Podcast on the Left” is definitely for you. Hosts Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks and Henry Zebrowski talk real-life and fictional horror each episode, taking you on a journey of questionable commentary and mostly-inappropriate laughs while visiting the darker side of humanity.
Horror films, Creepypasta entries, serial killers, cults and beyond, no subject is off-limits for these rowdy dudes. And while a bit on the louder side, it’s fun to be a part of the inside joke. (Note: If you’re easily offended, maybe stay away from this one.)
"Welcome to Night Vale"
(News Satire/Paranormal Horror/Surrealism)
This bi-monthly podcast serves up Area 51/”X-Files” vibes with its local news radio show, keeping listeners up to date on all the ~Stranger Things~ happening in this fictional desert town. Between giant glowing clouds, floating cats and a mysterious musical weather report (the soundtrack, in general, is phenomenal), you can always expect the unexpected.
Created by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, “Welcome to Night Vale” transports us to a paranormal, yet relatable world. Narrated by Cecil Gershwin Palmer (voiced by Cecil Baldwin), the show features occasional celebrity guest voice appearances from the likes of Mara Wilson, Retta and Felicia Day.
Remember: ”If you see something, say nothing, and drink to forget.”
"Stuff You Missed in History Class" (The Halloween Episodes)
Birthed from the website HowStuffWorks.com in 2008, “Stuff You Missed in History Class” has its own nifty little Halloween category, covering topics like the fact and fiction behind Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau, the Salem Witch Trials, and the tradition of trick-or-treating.
While it doesn’t rate super high on the spook scale, this podcast is great if you’re trying to get into the Halloween spirit without jumping out of your seat. They’re also conveniently short, averaging out to around 20 minutes an episode, but still jam-packed with interesting information.
"The NoSleep Podcast"
“For the dark hours when you dare not close your eyes,” this podcast is not for the faint of heart. Originally started as the subReddit forum NoSleep in 2010, users would post their original spooky stories to share with others (think within the realms of Creepypasta). A year later, a small group of contributors led by now host and producer David Cummings took the top rated posts and recorded them. Hence, the NoSleep Podcast was born!
Currently in its ninth season, the combination of stories, ominous music and sound effects in this podcast make for quite the uneasy feeling, especially at night.
NoSleep also accepts submissions from new and seasoned horror writers to be included into the series. You can find the guidelines at their website and submit your scripts (Bonus: they pay for accepted submissions). Maybe you’ll be scaring us next!