Podcasts seem to be having a bit of a moment now, everyone I know has listened and loved at least one. Last year I was swept up into the podcast boom when I listened to the first series of Serial and my god was it good. I’ve since come to realise that the podcasts I enjoy the most are the narrative kinds and the following list is made of compelling storytelling, real-life mysteries and eerie supernatural tales.
‘How’d you get to work last Wednesday for instance? Drive? Walk? Bike? Was it raining? Are you sure? Did you go to any stores that day? If so, what did you buy? Who did you talk to?’
This is Sarah Koenig (This American Life) at the beginning of the first episode, trying to show how hard it is for us to account for days. Now imagine trying to figure out where you where for an hour 6 weeks back (and this is in 1999, so without any help from social media.)
In 1999, 18-year old Hae Min Lee was murdered. Convicted for her murder was ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed. Adnan can’t say where he was exactly during this day and physical evidence in this trial was scarce, but despite being imprisoned for over 16 years, Adnan has always maintained his innocence. In weekly episodes, Sarah Koenig (This American Life) unfolds the incidents that led up to Hae’s death and the aftermath of Adnan’s arrest in an attempt to discover truth behind this case.
This podcast was SO. GOOD. At the beginning Sarah Koenig clearly states that she’s not a detective or a crime reporter and that helps in giving Serial its conversational tone. The podcast explores all the people involved and makes them real, fleshy humans. You hear from Adnan, you hear from their closet friends and you find out about the proof that the court used to convict Adnan.
If you like the X-Files, you’ll like this.
Ten years ago, over 300 people disappeared from a neuroscience research facility in Tennessee. Details about Limetown were muddy from the start. No one really knew the purpose of the facility or what they were researching. It wasn’t until the mass disappearance followed by the frantic 911 calls that people started to pay attention. Lia Haddock, an investigative journalist from This American Life, is trying to figure out what happened to the residents of Limetown and where they all disappeared.
Something else we know: Limetown isn’t real and Lia Haddock doesn’t exist, but I was never able to tell.
The Black Tapes
Alex Regan tells us it’s supposed to be a short interview. She’s doing an investigative profile on ghost hunter Dr. Richard Strand. But the podcast takes an eerie turn when she discovers his mysterious VHS tapes, Strand’s unsolved cases throughout the years. I love all things supernatural, but when watching a horror movie, I take comfort in the fact that I’m curled up safely under my blanket with my tea and hobnobs. The Black Tapes takes away my blanket with its stories that seem far too real.
The Message is another podcast that blurs the lines between fiction and reality. Nicky Tomalin is podcasting for ‘Cyphercast’ and convinces a team of cryptographers to let her shadow them as they try to decode a 70-year old message from outer space. I’ve just listened to the final episode and it made me gasp so you need to listen to it.
Lore is my most recent find and is the only other non-fiction podcast on this list. This is perfect for lovers of horror, the creepy and the things that go bump at night. Each episode narrates an eerie but real tale from history.
I’d love podcast recommendations, what are your favourites?