Throughout the month of October I spend a lot of time reading creepy books or watching scary movies. Just because you have to sleep sometimes doesn’t mean that you should stop enjoying the Halloween-time excitement. Podcasts are trying to keep you up at night, and some of them are doing a pretty damn good job. I’m not saying that straight audio will ever replace a good movie, but it’s almost as good as reading a book. If you haven’t been giving any of the many, many horror/paranormal podcasts a try this is the month to do so. I’m going to run down a few of the best for you today. Not all of them mind you, I have strict rules about what we listen to at bedtime. Loud laughing and fluctuating volume are a hard no for me when I’m trying to sleep. I also just can’t get into the fiction podcasts that the husband formerly known as Mr. Tibbs seems to love. One thing I like about the podcasts on my list is that it doesn’t matter if I fall asleep because most of them have short stories, and I assume that if I fell asleep during a particular story that it was probably for the best anyway. The serialized fiction has to be paid attention to. If I didn’t have other things to listen to on the way to work it might be different, but as it stands I just can’t devote that much attention to anything else in my life.
During the day I’m reading or listening to books on my kindle (if I don’t read at least 6 books a month I consider my kindle unlimited subscription wasted), and once I get home I either keep on reading or turn on a good horror movie. Or if it’s SyFy’s 31 Days of Halloween it’s likely a bad horror movie. If I’m being honest, until AMC’s Fear Fest kicks off, they’re all bad horror movies. While some people might like to escape the scary when they’re trying to sleep I prefer to keep things going while on my way to dreamland. There are several good spooky podcasts that I’ll listen to at bedtime, but again, I’m really picky about tone and volume. While I love How Did This Get Made I can’t listen to it in bed. Too much laughing from the hosts, and frequent volume changes makes it hard to drift off. I need a soothing (or at least not jarring) voice. Interesting subject matter or stories is a plus, but sometimes the tone of a podcast is enough to win me over for sleeping material. If you’re not listening to any of these you should give them a shot.
Last Podcast on the Left
Terry loves them. I can tolerate them, but not usually when I’m trying to sleep. While they sometimes tell good stories they also laugh too long and loudly at their own jokes. They sound like a bunch of dude-bros who used to sit around critiquing each others neck beards and decided to add a horror twist to the conversation. That being said, they do have some good shows about serial killers, true crime, and the like. It’s just the tone that’s not for me most of the time.
Even people who don’t listen to podcasts know about Lore. Aaron Mahnke does indeed have a relaxing voice, and many episodes go beyond true crime. I like that it’s true crime, but a lot of older crimes that show where urban legends and fables came from. Not being modern true crime I also don’t have to deal with listening to 911 calls of people screeching into a phone with bad reception. There’s nothing worse than trying to fall asleep when a podcast throws on a real call. I don’t like being startled for no reason when I’m half asleep.
Back when it first started hosts Ben and Aaron took their topics a little more seriously. You can tell that they’re into the paranormal, and used to be much more earnest about it, but the show has been on so long now that they’re running out of real stuff to talk about. It’s still paranormal, but now it’s stuff you can tell that even they don’t believe for a second. Go back and listen to some of the early episodes and you’ll see what I mean. Unfortunately, they have so many guests call in that the volume gets weird, and once again, keeps me from falling asleep. If you’d like to hear the soothing voice of Benjamin Grundy tell you about a trans-dimensional Sasquatch this show is for you.
The NoSleep Podcast
When it’s good it’s really good. When it’s bad it’s the worst. They have great production, and (for the most part) really good actors. It’s one of three short story anthology style podcasts we listen to. Unlike the other two they have real writers working for them. They’re also one of the few podcasts that pay writers for using their work so that’s a good thing. It’s not their fault that sometimes the stories are too long or too boring to hold my attention.
Stories, Fables. Ghostly Tales
These are more reddit than author derived stories, but don’t let the fact that some Creepypasta sneaks in here fool you. The host (whose name I can’t find after 6 pages of googling. He doesn’t really mention himself that much on the show so it’s not my fault) is extremely enthusiastic about his material, and encourages anyone who wants to contribute to write whatever they want and send it to him. I’m all for writing, and if we can get more people to do it (well) all the better. He does seem like an interesting guy, and this show is still small enough that he might agree to an interview. Go listen to the show, and I’ll keep you posted.
This is also a short story podcast, but it’s crowd-sourcing of “real” ghost encounters rather than fiction. Most of the tales are about things that happened to people when they were “8 or 9” (seriously, everything happens when you’re 8 or 9 according to this show). The tale-tellers also spend a lot of time talking about the layout of the places they happened to be when these ghostly encounters occurred. “To the left of the door there was a table with a lamp” that doesn’t matter at all to this story. Then there are the stories that just end without having actually had an ending. “He told me that he also heard noises in the basement from time to time” and that’s supposedly the end. Terry and I have thought about writing our own story to send in. It would revolve around an adult who had a scary encounter when they were 8 or 9 (of course). We would include at least 2 paragraphs of how the home was set-up, and then end with “and I never saw that eerie shape in the shadows again after that night”. I think it would fit in nicely. It’s often silly, and easy to pick on if you’re that kind of person, but there’s also something very endearing about the host. Lex Wahl makes me laugh, and frequently question my sanity. I will never knock someone for loving and believing in what they do, but I can’t even describe how the way he pronounces hot dog (putting all of the emphasis on dog) makes me laugh like an idiot. Oh, I am an idiot. Never mind.
So there are just a few podcasts to check out. If you happen to want fictional horror podcasts I hear The Black Tapes, Welcome to Night Vale, and Limetown are good. I’ll stick to my “real stories” at night though. Now if you’ll excuse me I’ve got to go write a story about something scary that happened to me when I was 8 or 9.