For some, the supernatural is a guilty pleasure they’d get ridiculed for if brought up in polite company. For others, they still get made fun of, but they don’t care because they eat these stories up. We’re somewhere in the middle, with a strong appreciation for a good ghost story, but enough self-awareness to know when it’s okay to talk about. In October, it’s definitely okay to talk about, so let’s bust out the podcast recommendations. These are our favorite supernatural podcasts for when the air starts to get that creepy briskness to it.
The creepiest part of North America, after colonial old growth forests, is the American South. Now, don’t make the mistake of thinking we’re saying that for political reasons. We’re going purely off geography here. We’d rather be stranded in the backwoods of Pennsylvania than a Louisiana swamp any day. The Moonlit Road focuses intensely on the American South, featuring storytellers from the area and having them read both original stories and classic campfire tales. It’s straightforward, excellent, and will seriously get you to reconsider your nocturnal escapades south of the Mason-Dixon.Listen
Reddit’s NoSleep subreddit is notorious for both the highest quality horror fiction and some of the dumbest, dullest crap the internet’s ever come up with. As such, you need a curator. We’ve done a bit of it ourselves, picking out our favorite r/nosleep stories, but our efforts can’t touch what The NoSleep Podcast has done. For just over seven years and eleven season, this collaborative work, led by David Cummings, has been sorting through the subreddit and bringing the best of it to audio life.Listen
The conspiratorial institute/asylum trope in horror is so prevalent and reliable that we go so far as to classify it as a genre all on its own. Like WWII or Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Magnus Archives is fully in that genre and carries all the creepiness, suspense, and intensity you’d expect. Essentially, Dr. Jonathan Sims has been tasked with upgrading the archives at the Magnus Institute in London. This task entails recording audio backups of the institute’s aging archives along with any relevant updates to the case. Since the Magnus Institute is the kind of place it is, you get case after case of unsettling Europeans creepiness, the most effective kind of creepiness.Listen
As fun as fiction is, a true ghost story is unbeatable as long as it’s told well. Anything Ghost deals purely in reality and it has for more than a decade. Listeners submit stories they claim actually happened to them, and host Lex Wahl turns them into podcast fodder with effects and music. This is a huge collection of ghost stories from around the world, with a full range of international supernatural. It’s also one of the tightest arguments for why you should start paying for podcasts. The most recent ten episodes are free, which you can definitely content yourself with, but for a measly $25, you get full access to twelve years of podcast creepiness.Listen
Sticking with nonfiction for another entry, Jim Harold’s Campfire has been running for a year longer than Anything Ghost with a similar focus. These are real stories from real people, though Harold’s format is a little different. He’s set up more like talk radio, where people call in or submit audio recordings in their own voice. It’s a little more natural and adds some authority to the stories. They become more believable if a real person’s voice can be held accountable for them. You can also hear the raw emotion of a story, which is always a great element to have if you’re trying to convey how scary a situation is or was.Listen
Yes, one more nonfiction ghost podcast, because this time of year, we can’t get enough of them. Spooked in particular makes a point of putting skeptics through their paces. These aren’t stories that can be easily debunked by magnetic fields, swamp gasses, or a couple bad bottles of Colt 45. These are the stories that make you reconsider things in your own life you didn’t initially consider could have been supernatural. Most of the podcasts here are entertainment. Spooked is the one that might accidentally convince you ghosts are real. Not that it’s trying to, it’s just that good.Listen
The best podcasts of any genre are the ones that don’t quite fall fully into the tropes of their genre, with horror and/or the supernatural in particular. Anyone who plays up the campiness or leans too hard on the easily cheesy parts of horror is going to alienate the majority of their potential audience. That’s why we respect Mysterious Universe. They balance suspension of disbelief, skepticism, earnest emotion, and humor really well, making their show kind of like supernatural features journalism. You’ll be entertained and might have a few laughs, but will also be followed around by a general uneasiness that could grow into full blown creeped out when you turn out your lights for the night.Listen