11 Podcasts That Will Get You in the Mood for Halloween

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Happy October! 'Tis the season to get spooky, and there's no better way to do it than with these podcasts, which run the gamut from spine-tingling fiction to bone-chilling true crime—making them the perfect listening in the run up to Halloween.

1. HAUNTED PLACES

The premise of this podcast is self-explanatory: In each episode, host Greg Polcyn takes listeners to a new haunted location around the world. So far, it's featured infamous tourist destinations—think the Winchester Mystery House and Paris's Catacombs—alongside places like Vermont's Bennington County Courthouse and Austin's Driskill Hotel. Each episode's storytelling is a blend of real history and creepy legends supplemented with spooky sound effects and Polcyn's narration. New episodes are released every Thursday. (If you can’t get enough of Polcyn, he co-hosts two other podcasts worth checking out: Serial Killers and Cults.)

2. THE NOSLEEP PODCAST

Fans of scary movies might enjoy NoSleep, a horror fiction podcast that comes with a warning: "[NoSleep] is intended for mature adults, not the faint of heart. Join us at your own risk…" NoSleep started as a subreddit devoted to original horror; in 2011, member Matt Hansen proposed a podcast, and David Cummings signed on to host and produce. The stories are brought to life by voice actors, sound effects, and spooky scores. "We're bringing the old-time radio show back into the modern culture," Cummings told the Chicago Tribune in 2017. "The audience members bring their own imaginations and fears. That really heightens their sense of connection."

NoSleep is currently in its 11th season, which it promised "has 16 candles we hope you can handle, with five tales about nasty nature, terrifying transformations, and malicious malls. This one might sting." If you're not sure where to start, the team has assembled a handy list of sample episodes you can check out.

3. PRETTY SCARY

Listeners who love My Favorite Murder will likely enjoy Pretty Scary. While the overall vibe of this podcast isn't exactly spooky—it's hosted by comics Adam Tod Brown, Caitlin Cutt, and Kari Martin, who bring humor to the proceedings—the subject matter is. Pretty Scary covers everything from true crime cases to conspiracy theories to the unexplained. Past episodes have explored the chupacabra, the ghost ship Mary Celeste, the effects of nuclear explosions, and murders that happened on Halloween.

4. INTO THE DARK

This podcast, just 23 episodes long, is hosted by Cooper B. Wilhelm, and it's the perfect pre-Halloween listening: It features "friendly interviews with practitioners and scholars of witchcraft and the occult arts, as well as answers to listener questions on occult subjects." Wilhelm is excellent at getting the witches and wizards he interviews to open up. Check out this episode, which features a discussion about Satanism versus Devil Worship.

5. UNEXPLAINED

This podcast, which drops bi-weekly, takes on events that defy explanation, "the space between what we think of as real and what is not. Where the unknown and paranormal meets the most radical ideas in science today…" Host Richard MacLean Smith explained to TVOvermind that he has three criteria for selecting stories to feature: "One, that it has a human element at the heart of it; two, that it is actually a story and not just an event (for example, like just saying, "this person was abducted on this day, and that's all they can remember"); and [third], that the unexplained mystery has never been sufficiently debunked."

Past episodes have covered the Stocksbridge Bypass (thought to be the most haunted road in the UK), Operation Cone of Power, and the disappearance of the Eilean Mòr Lighthouse Keepers.

6. HERE BE MONSTERS

Started by Jeff Emtman in 2012, Here Be Monsters—which is named after the cartography convention—describes itself as "a podcast created by and for people interested in pursuing their fears and facing the unknown." Emtman told The Guardian in 2015 that "What I do—and encourage the people who produce for the show to do—is take our fears and those moments of discomfort and pursue them. You poke around until you feel repulsion and then break it down into its constituent parts and chase each of those. Every time I've done that, I've found that the fears are relatively unfounded." Here Be Monsters has covered everything from a Satanic prayer line and a three-legged arctic fox to crow funerals and ASMR; each episode features an unsettling soundscape and is accompanied on the website by eerie art. The team—which also includes Bethany Denton and Nick White—recommends starting with new episodes and working your way backwards.

7. LIMETOWN

This expertly produced radio drama—which at first is almost indistinguishable from non-fiction—has drawn comparisons to both Serial and the television series The X-Files. It covers a fictional event, 10 years in the past, in which hundreds of people disappeared from a gated community in Tennessee without a trace. Its fictional host, Lia Haddock—whose uncle who vanished in the event—tries to unravel the mystery of what happened in Limetown. Creators Zack Akers and Skip Bronkie looked to NPR radio shows like Radiolab and This American Life "for direction and structure for how a radio documentary sounds," Akers told Vox, and real-life disappearances like that of the Roanoke Colony also served as inspiration. After you finish it, buy the prequel—a book that hits stores in November.

8. STUFF YOU MISSED IN HISTORY CLASS

This painstakingly researched podcast (hosts Tracy V. Wilson and Holly Frey spend between eight and 20 hours researching each episode) has covered plenty of horrifying historical events, and its Halloween episodes—of which there are several every year—are no exception. In the past, Wilson and Frey have covered the Villisca Axe Murders, the mysterious disappearance of Aaron Burr's only daughter, and Disneyland's Haunted Mansion.

9. DR. DEATH

Doctors are supposed to make sick people better, and in fact, they all must take an oath to do no harm. In the event they ignore that oath, the medical system is supposed to protect patients—but that doesn't always happen. Dr. Death follows the crimes of neurosurgeon Dr. Christopher Duntsch, who cut a path of destruction through the spines of his patients. It was preventable destruction that his various employers, and the medical system, simply did not do enough to stop. "One of the shocking things for me is that there were several gatekeepers along the way, there were several places where the entity involved could have stopped him—starting with his medical school—and nobody did," host Laura Beil said at a listening event for the podcast. "At every juncture something that should have happened to stop him didn't happen. And I don't know that that's even that unusual." What could be scarier than that?

10. SAWBONES

This is technically a comedy podcast, but if you don't find medical history scary, you might be dead. Hosted by Dr. Sydnee McElroy and her husband, Justin, the podcast—which takes its name from what surgeons used to be called—debuted in 2013. In the seasons since, it's covered topics from insomnia and asbestos to sleepwalking and spontaneous combustion and everything in between.

11. SNAP JUDGMENT PRESENTS: SPOOKED

Featuring true stories straight from people who say they've experienced paranormal phenomena, SPOOKED—which launched its second season in August—is hosted by Glynn Washington. The grandson of a seer, Washington saw his first exorcism as a teen. "There's nothing scarier or more mesmerizing than a real-life ghost story," he said. "The encounters in SPOOKED will stay with you beyond each episode and leave you questioning your understanding of reality." With its scary stories and spine-tingling sound design, SPOOKED is one you won't want to miss. Check out season one, episode six, "The Shadow Men," which features two tales: one about a house haunted by a malevolent spirit, and one about the things that went bump in the night for one border patrol agent.

Pod Search, a Search Engine for Podcasts, Can Help You Find Your Next Binge-Listen

Milkos/iStock via Getty Images
Milkos/iStock via Getty Images

Having too many options definitely seems like the best problem to have when it comes to picking your next top podcast obsession, but that doesn’t make it any less overwhelming. To streamline the hunt, try Pod Search—a website and mobile app that has all the information you need in order to choose a winner.

As Lifehacker reports, the user-friendly site is organized in several different ways, depending on how you’d like to operate your search. You can browse its list of about 30 categories, which range from “Storytelling” to “Crime & Law,” and each has a set of subcategories so you can get even more specific. If you trust the opinions of the general public, you can choose an already-popular podcast from the “Top Podcasts” tab. Or, if you like to be the first to recommend the next big thing to your friends, you can pick a program from the list of new podcasts.

Pod Search also has a handy tool called MyPodSearch which will pretty much do all the work of choosing the perfect podcast for you. All you have to do is check whichever categories interest you and add any additional keywords you’d like (which is optional), and MyPodSearch will deliver a list of podcasts personalized for your tastes. This is great for people who have wide-ranging interests, a proclivity for indecision, or both.

Each podcast has its own landing page with a description, audio samples, places you can listen, website and social media links for the podcast, and a list of other podcasts from the same producers. You can also create an account and bookmark podcasts for the future—so, hypothetically, you could have MyPodSearch create a personalized list for you, bookmark them all, and then have a binge-listening itinerary that’ll last you until next year.

[h/t Lifehacker]

8 Fun Facts About Muppet Babies

The Jim Henson Company
The Jim Henson Company

Before prequels were a thing, Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies imagined a world in which the felt-covered characters of Henson’s Muppets franchise—Kermit, Miss Piggy, Animal, and Fozzie Bear among them—met up as children in a nursery. Left to their own devices, the animated cast led a rich fantasy life while in diapers. For more on this 1984-1991 show, including why it’s so hard to find anywhere except YouTube, keep reading.

1. Frank Oz didn’t really want Muppet Babies.

The idea to infantilize the Muppets came from Michael Frith, a longtime collaborator of Jim Henson’s, in the early 1980s. Frith believed that regressing the characters could allow them to impart moral or educational messages to children already familiar with them. But Frank Oz, a Muppets performer (Miss Piggy) and film director, argued that the Muppets needed to maintain their subversive edge. It was Henson who found a compromise, suggesting that younger versions of the characters appear in a dream sequence for 1984’s feature film The Muppets Take Manhattan. The response to the scene was overwhelmingly positive, and Henson soon teamed with Marvel Productions and CBS for an animated series that began airing in September 1984.

2. Skeeter was the result of a gender imbalance on Muppet Babies.

Most of the principal Muppet Babies cast was made up of recognizable characters, including Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Rowlf, Gonzo, Animal, Bunsen, and Scooter. But Frith, Henson, and producers Bob Richardson and Hank Saroyan decided that the babies were skewing a little too male. Aside from Piggy and their caretaker, Nanny, there were no female characters. To balance the scales, they introduced Skeeter, Scooter’s twin sister, a brainy problem-solver.

Skeeter has made only fleeting and sporadic appearances in the Muppet franchise since, leading to speculation she might be caught up in rights issues between CBS and the Jim Henson Company, which was purchased by Disney in 2004. Fortunately, the somewhat murky situation appears to be at least partially resolved: It was recently reported Skeeter will resurface in the new computer-animated iteration of Muppet Babies, which is currently airing its second season on Disney Junior and has been renewed for a third season.

3. One of the major creative forces behind Muppet Babies was Moe Howard’s grandson.

In 1985, Muppet Babies writer Jeffrey Scott received a Humanitas Prize from the Human Family Educational and Cultural Institute for an episode of the series which the Institute declared did the best job of any kid’s show that year to “enrich the viewing public.” The episode centered on the group fearing one of them might be sent away. The prolific Scott actually wrote all 13 episodes of the first season. His father, Norman Maurer, worked at Hanna-Barbera Productions and got Scott’s foot in the door. His grandfather was Moe Howard, founder and head Stooge of The Three Stooges fame.

4. The Muppet Babies live-action segments were a result of budgetary constraints.

A hallmark of Muppet Babies is when the cast finds themselves thrust into scenes from famous films, a Walter Mitty-esque bit of fantasy fulfillment that blends live-action sequences with animation. According to Frith, devoting a portion of each episode to clips wasn’t entirely a creative choice. By inserting clips, producers could save money on animation. It was also easy for Henson to secure the rights to popular films like Star Wars or Raiders of the Lost Ark because he was friends with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. While some believe those clips are the reason the show isn’t available to stream—sifting through the legal entanglement of reairing the segments might prove costly—that’s never been confirmed.

5. Muppet Babies never explained what the Muppets were doing in that nursery.

Given time to reflect, it seems odd that the Muppet cast would find themselves in a nursery without being supervised by their own parents. Speaking with the Detroit Free Press in 1987, Michael Frith said that the situation was purposely left vague. “I really appreciate the fact that they don’t [ask],” Frith said of his kid viewers. “Is this a day care center? Is this a foster child home? The more we talked about it, the more we felt it should just exist. The kids accept it.”

6. The voice recording sessions of Muppet Babies included copious farting.

Speaking with CNN in 2011, actor Dave Coulier (Full House) recalled that recording sessions for Muppet Babies sometimes involved flatulence. Coulier, who portrayed Animal and Bunsen, among others, said that “lots of fart humor” punctuated the recording studio. “In one scene, Fozzie [played by Greg Berg] and Animal had to climb a ladder,” he said. “As Animal was pushing Fozzie up the ladder, they were making [grunting] sounds. In mid-scene, Greg Berg farted. I looked at [actor] Frank Welker and we couldn’t contain ourselves. Uncontrollable laughter ensued. I was literally on the floor of the studio laughing.”

7. There was an offshoot of Muppet Babies called Muppet Monsters—and it never aired in full.

Following the success of Muppet Babies, CBS and Jim Henson decided to expand on the Muppets' potential as Saturday morning stars by creating a 90-minute block in 1985 titled Muppets, Babies, and Monsters. (Muppet Babies often aired consecutive half-hour installments for an hour total.) In addition to regular Muppet Babies episodes, the program featured another half-hour of Little Muppet Monsters, which featured puppets of new Muppet monster characters named Tug, Molly, and Boo. The three appeared in a framing device that introduced animated segments of adult Muppets. Only three episodes aired out of 15 produced, reportedly due to both Henson and CBS being unhappy with the finished product and Muppet Babies standing strongly on its own. The remaining episodes have yet to see the light of day.

8. Muppet Babies was turned into a live stage show.

To further incite their juvenile audience and monetize their popularity, the Muppet Babies franchise eventually wound up live and on stage. Muppet Babies Live! debuted in 1986 and featured performers in oversized costumes dancing and acting to a prerecorded track. In one skit, the cast appeared in a Snow White homage. In another, Rowlf became Rowlfgang Amagodus Mozart and played the piano. The arena show toured the country. Hank Saroyan, one of the animated show’s producers, wrote the stage show. The performer for Baby Piggy, Elizabeth Figols, also appeared in a live production of Dirty Dancing. The show ran through 1990.

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