Scary stories are best told aloud, with the storyteller illuminated by a campfire, their voice slicing through the silence of the dark, as if they alone were keeping you safe from the dangers that surround you. But life doesn’t doesn’t often afford us these conditions. Podcasts are the next best thing.
The podcast is the perfect medium for horror. With no visual distractions, the spooky spell is woven only by the voice of the host; the experience is defined only by the creepy corners of your own imagination. Here’s a few favorite podcasts — no matter which flavor of horror you prefer — guaranteed to fright and delight.
It’s an obvious pick, but this list would be incomplete without the behemoth of Lore. The popular and prolific folklore podcast takes the long view of our collective nightmares, combing through history and analyzing the scary stories we’ve told ourselves for centuries. Host Aaron Mahnke’s steady, matter-of-fact narration connects all the tropes we recognize in horror with their real-life origins and analogs. You’ll learn something in every haunting episode.
(If you’ve experienced Lore only through the Amazon Prime show, give the podcast a listen — it’s the format best-suited to these spooky goings-on.)
What I love about Spooked is the way it behaves like Are You Afraid of the Dark? for grown-ups. With each episode, host Glynn Washington introduces one or two true-life paranormal tales, narrated by those who experienced them. There’s some atmospheric background music, but the voices of real people relating their terrifying experiences are what will keep you rapt. The stories are compelling and persuasive enough they’ll have skeptics’ teeth chattering.
Brought to you by the creators of the hugely popular Welcome to Night Vale podcast, Alice Isn’t Dead takes a more intimate approach to its storytelling. The weirdness that plagues the small desert town of Night Vale is here but on a grander scale. The narrative unfolds through a series of audio diaries from a truck driver on a cross-country journey to find the wife (Alice) she’d long thought dead. The format makes for a deeply personal experience, ominous and tense as our narrator slowly uncovers a vast conspiracy of monsters across America.
Bonus: Explore this creepy odyssey even further with the companion novel of the same name.
This one feels appropriately organic, with the same vibe as friends gathering around the fire trying to outdo one another in delivering chills and thrills. Grown from a subreddit of the same name, the podcast presents spooky original stories, which are performed rather than simply narrated — but with the same first-person appeal as swapping stories with your fireside companions.
With 13 seasons to navigate, figuring out where to start with NoSleep may seem daunting. Thoughtfully, the podcast team has curated a newbie sampler pack of accessible and emblematic episodes.
The winner for the Most Likely Hosted by Someone Currently Experiencing a Haunting award is undoubtedly Soren Narnia’s intimate fiction podcast. The production is bare bones, with Narnia relaying stories from the first-person viewpoint of a character who experienced them. The sparseness of the audio is eerie. What you’re left with is a feeling of uncertainty, as if you’d just been listening to tapes you found in the attic of the haunted manor home you just bought for a song.
For well over a decade, Pseudopod has hosted a dizzyingly diverse array of original and previously published short fiction from hallowed horror names like Eugie Foster, Joe R. Lansdale, Grady Hendrix, and Gemma Files, among many others. In this long-running weekly show, treasures abound — but where do you start? Check out the curated list for new listeners with 28 stories that highlight the depth and breadth of the podcast’s nearly 700 episodes.