In this, the golden age of podcasts, there’s a show for everything — from dissecting politics to analyzing Frasier. So it’s no surprise that this October, production companies are going out of their way to provide spooky content to infect listeners’ ears. From creepy fiction to unsolved murders, here are five of our favorite picks for Halloween 2019.
Like regional food or music, ghost stories are a cross-cultural, universal phenomenon. On each episode of Spooked, host Glynn Washington introduces one or two supposedly true paranormal tales, told by the diverse roster of people who experienced them, from a paramedic in San Jose to former saloon staffers in Alaska, to an agent on the U.S.-Mexico border. Episodes are backed by original, creepy scores for musically-driven storytelling its sister podcast Snap Judgment has become known for. Spooked shows that no matter where you come from or what you believe, sometimes we’ve all been afraid to turn out the lights. —Andrea Marks
When Gimlet released The Horror of Dolores Roach last year, they ushered in an ambitious new era of scripted-fiction podcasts. Set in modern-day Washington Heights, Manhattan, Daphne Rubin-Vega voiced the roll of Dolores Roach, a woman who’d been locked up for more than a decade on marijuana charges, only to find herself broke in a radically different city. While the first season (which began as an off-off-Broadway one-woman show) was billed as a modern take on Sweeney Todd, season two is entirely original, and picks up where that leaves off — with her starting a life in the tunnels under New York City. —Elisabeth Garber-Paul
Parcast has a lot of podcasts — from Serial Killers to Unsolved Murders, plenty of them are spooky to begin with. So it makes sense that for Halloween this year they invited a handful of their titles to contribute to Parcast Presents: Halloween. From Female Criminals, there’s a two-parter about the Salem Witch Trials. From Haunted Places: Urban Legends, there’s a deep dive into the story of ‘The Hook.’ Their podcast Today in True Crime sends in an episode about the unsolved murder of the Sims family in 1966. Though they all come from a different angle, each episode is thoroughly researched — and creepily told. —EGP
Spooky stories from the web come to life on Full Body Chills, a Halloween podcast from Crime Junkies host Ashley Flowers. Flowers reads other authors’ spooky stories aloud in her signature ASMR voice. She promises a return to campfire storytelling, and delivers stories that meander then build to a twist at the end. There’s also a distinctly modern vibe. Many tales seem to be based in the world of online, with the narrator saying “I’m posting this online,” or using a troubling letter from a “chan-style image board” as the foundation for a story. Once we may have gathered around campfires, but now we gather around screens, which is eerie in its own right. —AM
True crime and the paranormal collide in Ghosthunter, an Australian podcast series that dropped this past summer. The series, which took seven years to make, stars ghost hunter Jason King and documentarian Ben Lawrence, who team up to find King’s estranged father — on the command of the ghost of King’s brother. Much like Serial and S-Town, Ghosthunter starts off following the story of an eccentric man on a Quixotic journey, then morphs into a tale focused more on family and foibles than the supernatural. Listen for free with a free trial to Audible. —Brenna Ehrlich