We are more than midway through October and what I sometimes jokingly call ‘Halloween-month’. In fact, there are thirteen days left right now! I’m a ‘spooky content all year round’ kind of person, Halloween notwithstanding; in fact, I’m not really a Halloween person. I don’t dress up or hand out candy, but I do sit down in pajamas with horror podcasts and scary movies. So, for those of us who want to wrap up October with the spooks and creepies—whether sweet, deeply scary, or educational—here are thirteen great haunted podcasts, one for every day left (starting today).
Day One: The Hum
Let’s start us off with something self-contained. The Hum is a four-part miniseries about a mysterious, ominous hum that has been rolling across an otherwise unremarkable suburban town. Here, listeners follow Peter Heath as he investigates what’s happening for his newspaper. This is horror contained into a small jar, and deployed effectively with vaguely staticky, worry-inducing sound design.
Day Two: Point Mystic
Point Mystic is one of the podcasts coming back on Halloween high on my radar. It’s magical realism—with all that magical realism entails, including a deep sense of the uncanny and supernatural and elements of horror. Between Christopher Reynaga and script editor Marguerite Croft, they build a plot line and improvise scenes with their actors, a strategy which makes that line between the real and unreal a little bit blurrier in a way that makes my hair stand on end.
Day Three: Ghoul Intentions
So maybe after two days of being scared out of your wits or unsettled, you need a moment of levity. Ghoul Intentions is hosted by voice actors Jamie Marchi and J. Michael Tatum, they narrate and perform listener submitted ghost stories (with great spooky music soundtracks) and then discuss them with some silly goofs. They’re lighthearted and funny, but not dismissive, and deeply invested in talking honestly about their own supernatural experiences. And honestly, when they read out people’s ghost experiences: chills.
Day Four: Snap Judgment Presents: Spooked
If you read a lot of horror/Halloween/spooky podcast themed lists, you’ll know this podcast. There’s a reason Spooked is on all of them and why I’m not leaving it off: because it’s amazing. This is Spooked’s second season, created out of Snap Judgment’s traditional Halloween Spooked episodes, of firsthand supernatural stories told by the people who experienced them, hosted by the magnificent Glynn Washington. Whether or not you believe them is up to you, but with the way these are curated, performed, and designed, it’s hard to not check under the bed for monsters later.
Day Five: Palimpsest
Palimpsest leans far more Gothic horror than some of the other son this list, slow and psychological and reliant on mood driven by both the hauntingly beautiful narration from voice actor Hayley Heninger and the subtly effective music from Ian Ridenhour. Each season is a separate story, and this allows writer and producer Jamie Ridenhour to flex some impressive creative muscles. Season one is a haunted house story that moved me to tears, told through the voice of sad, but hopeful Anneliese. Season two is set in 19th century U.S. with the child of an Irish immigrant and the Fae, and it’s that spooky romantic tale I never knew I wanted.
Day Six: Spirits
Long-running boozy conversation show Spirits is a mainstay no matter what time of year it is. Hosts Julia Schifini and Amanda McLoughlin take listeners on a raucous ride through mythology and urban legends, discussing one piece of folklore every episode and its surrounding, changing context and social significance. They are hysterical, informative, and aware and willing to talk about difficult related subjects, like appropriation and racism. I highly recommend listening to the Your Urban Legends series for listener submitted hometown urban myths.
Day Seven: Six Stories, Told at Night
If you want to continue the folklore theme, this indie audio fiction is a Canadian favorite. It’s the story of a woman who goes looking for her lost friend, and both of them have a love of Canadian folklore. Each episode weaves in a telling of a Canadian folk tale, one that evolves to inform the plot. The joy of this podcast is in K.T. Bryski’s storytelling, in the unforgettably mysterious tone and ethereal quality of her voice, and in the eerie original music that opens and closes each episode. There are even seven stories now, instead of six, for extra chilling delights.
Day Eight: The Hidden Frequencies
To ramp up up the scary factor at this point, try The Hidden Frequencies, a Twilight Zone/The Outer Limits-style anthology podcast, horror and science-fiction taking center stage. This is birthed from a powerhouse collection of writers, sound designers, and voice actors, not only incredibly skilled but dedicated to their craft and this project.. If you’re looking to grimace into the darkness and feel your blood run cold, tales like Galley’s “The Murkside Hotel” will deliver that directly into your ears. Sometimes it’s even difficult express to realism of these soundscapes and the pit in my stomach from the effectiveness of the acting.
Day Nine: Tribulation
Tribulation is one of the few podcasts that has actually forced me to turn the lights on and check the windows. When Stacy and George hear a fire and brimstone pastor’s sermon on the radio speak to them, George disappears, and Stacy starts her descent into a world of cults, radios, and finding the truth. It’s bone-chilling the way that Stacy’s life becomes intertwined with what’s happening. Tribulation deals with religious zealotry, choice, and the gain and loss of the self amidst the greed of others, and pulls no punches.
Day Ten: Nightlight
Produced and designed by Tonia Thompson, Nightlight is a Black diaspora horror podcast, an anthology from both past and contemporary writers, performed by various Black creatives. These stories run a wide gamut of emotions and horror imagery, and I think there’s something for everyone here, from the Gothic to the uncanny to the more gory and sinister. I love the creepy music that supports the performances, and the occasional sound effects that underscore certain scenes so that they lodge into my brain and don’t leave.
Day Eleven: Missing Witches
Taking a moment to discuss the history of witches and witchcraft, and the intersections with social activism and racial justice, is an important part of enjoying horror fiction for me. Missing Witches is a limited-run part-history, part-interview podcast dedicated to witches lost and found, full of knowledgeable creators and guests and detail-orinted work. Half of the episodes are narrated histories of famous witches often lost and erased in histories, like Pixie Colman Smith and the history of the tarot. The other half are in-depth interviews with currently practicing witches about their specialties and practices, like an interview with Reeta about tarot reading, Desha, and other forms of divination.
Day Twelve: The Marble Garden
The Marble Garden is “a podcast about cemeteries and the stories they tell” and the Twitter has been teasing season two soon, so this is the perfect time to get caught up. The host narrates tender and detailed histories of certain dead persons she selects, histories of cemeteries themselves, and whatever else seems relevant and intriguing. This is a calm and respectful history and storytelling podcast, with the hushed atmosphere that is reminiscent of the cemeteries themselves. My favorite episode so far is probably “Cemetery 101 – Superstitions, Traditions and Folklore”—appropriately, a Halloween special.
Halloween, Day Thirteen: Limetown
Let’s end this month on a high note: Limetown is coming back on Halloween for season two! This is a marathon-in-one-day season about a journalist investigating what happened to a 300-person town—a haven for scientists and their families—in Tennessee that vanished overnight ten years before the podcast begins. It’s viscerally creepy, and a game changer of a podcast when it came out which has held up so well, Wil Williams is doing season one recaps over on her website. For many of us, this is the tale of terror that made us spill drinks, stop working, and leap into the air in the middle of a bus ride. If you haven’t listened, brace yourself, because it gets weird; if you have, I think Halloween is a good day for all things Limetown if you don’t have time beforehand.
What’s your spooky season staple? Do you like your horror tense and suspenseful, gory, or softer and more uncanny or unusual? Is your preferred spooky content real life stories or fiction—or maybe an unknowable combination of both? Let me know in the comments below! I’m always in the market for more audio scares.
Header image from Neil Howard.