Halloween Month (or October, as some call it) is upon us, and with it comes all the joys of autumn, like pumpkin pie, costumes and ghouls. Lots of ghouls. To hype yourself up for the best October yet, here are some spooky, scary podcasts for Halloween.
“Spooked” started out as a recurring special episode on storytelling podcast “Snap Judgement.” It was so popular that “Snap Judgement’s” host, Glynn Washington, spun “Spooked” off into its very own show. Guests tell stories about their experiences with the paranormal and their encounters with the unexplainable. They’re ostensibly true, but they sound like campfire stories come to life – the perfect Halloween podcasts.
“Criminal” is unlike other true crime podcasts, because it’s not really interested in gore. Still, that doesn’t mean it’s not terrifying at times. Nothing is more bone-chilling than listening to host Phoebe Judge calmly tell you a story about a stranger living in a woman’s attic. “Criminal” is one of the best podcasts out there, with magnificent audio production and reporting. Judge also has the perfect voice for a podcast like this – cool and collected, but also occasionally spine-tingling.
“Radio Rental” is a podcast about real-life horror stories, told by those who lived them, produced by Atlanta Monster’s Payne Lindsey. Although the stories are real, the podcast is hosted by a video store clerk named Terry Carnation, played by Rainn Wilson. This framing device provides some much-needed levity when the stories get a little too close to home. “Radio Rental” is all about close calls, mysterious strangers, weird memories and last-minute twists. I inhaled the entire show in about two days, since I just couldn’t stop listening.
Host Aaron Mahnke explores the historic origins of humanity’s creepiest folktales and ghost stories. It’s a history podcast and a horror podcast all in one – and Mahnke’s calm, dulcet tones make it seem almost like a campfire story. Tune in for stories of people burying themselves alive, staging pictures with ghosts, accusing one another of being vampires and so much more.
Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark love murder – but not in that way. “My Favorite Murder” is a true crime podcast about the joy of telling horror stories to your friends. Every week, Kilgariff and Hardstark trade (lightly-researched) stories about murderers. Nothing captures the spirit of Halloween quite like joking about serial killers and real-life monsters.
In some ways, “RedHanded” can be similar to “My Favorite Murder.” Friends Suruthi Bala and Hannah Maguire get together to tell a true crime story together, but since they’re telling the same story, they can often do more research and go deeper into detail. Although they’re not afraid of making jokes sometimes, “RedHanded” can get pretty serious and gruesome. A lot of the episodes have a charming DIY feel, with Bala and Maguire making references to being “under the blanket,” AKA sitting under their duvet covers to record. Even though the show has gotten more successful over the years, it’s still obvious that Bala and Maguire are doing this because they love to do it. Be warned: “RedHanded” gets dark.
Recommended episodes: Episode 109 – Andrea Yates & The Devil, Episode 100 – Gilberto Valle: Cannibal Cop, Episode 88 – The Mysterious Death of Elisa Lam, Episode 52 – Cruise Crime: The Disappearance of Amy Bradley
“Dr. Death” is the terrifying true story of Dr. Christopher Duntsch, a Dallas neurosurgeon. Bad back? Chronic pain? Don’t go under this doctor’s knife. Dr. Duntsch had a nasty habit of turning spine surgeries into grisly hack jobs (that only some of his patients survived). “Dr. Death” is the story of a dangerous doctor – and the whistleblowers who took him down.
Listen from beginning to end.
Podcaster Justin McElroy and Dr. Sydnee McElroy take listeners on a tour of the messed-up things people have been doing to their bodies for centuries. “Sawbones” is a podcast about medical history – particularly about the strangest parts of medical history. Due to its proximity to sheer body horror, some of the episodes get especially ghoulish – though the McElroys endeavor to make it as light-hearted as possible.
“Stuff You Missed in History Class” is a venerable old podcast with a huge back catalog of episodes for new listeners to trawl through. For most of the year, “Stuff You Missed in History Class” is a calm, well-researched podcast about the forgotten corners of history. But every October, they deliver a series of new Halloween podcasts. Hosts Tracy V. Wilson and Holly Frey tell spooky stories about historical ghosts, haunted houses, colonial vampires and the history of Halloween pop culture.
Recommended episodes: The Allegedly Haunted Island of Poveglia, New England Vampire Panic, Edward Gorey, Building Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion, A Cruise Through History’s Ghost Ships, Ghosts of History: Versailles (This episode is over ten years old!)
Spooky Audio Dramas
Sometimes there’s nothing better than a good old-fashioned ghost story. The following fiction podcasts are sure to deliver spooks and scares (or at least some creepy-crawlies). They’re a great addition to your list of Halloween podcasts.
Do you have any spooky stories that have happened to you? Let us know in the comments below!