I first started listening to podcasts all the way back in, like, 2010 or 2011. I had a two-hour a day commute, I got my first iPod, and I wanted to dive in and start listening to people talk about what I wanted to hear about! I can’t remember what I even subscribed to back then aside from Savage Love, This American Life, and The Pokemon Podcast.
Ever since then, even when my commute dropped down to 35 minutes (and now only 10!), I’ve been hopelessly addicted to podcasts. I have my standbys, but I’m always looking for new casts to listen to. I think part of the fun of finding a super niche podcast is because it reminds me of the early, early days of the internet and how crazy it was to be so excited to find people that you share mutual interests with.
For example, I remember back in middle school, sitting in the family room where our one computer with internet lived, looking up as much information on Jack the Ripper and Charles Manson and Richard Ramirez as I could, nervously expecting my parents to come in and ask why I was reading about serial killers.
Eventually, I would come across some people on LiveJournal that shared that same fascination, and I found websites devoted to articles written about motivations and histories and MOs, and I had internet friends that when, years later, BTK was finally arrested, we did our own form of live-tweeting through AOL IM as we watched CourtTV’s live coverage of his trial.
No matter what you’re interested in, there’s always someone out there scouring books and sites and all other mediums, trying to find something out about the same stuff you are, even if that is gruesome and terrifying murder cases. Which brings me to the first installment of my podcast recommendation series I’d like to try out on the blog… This time around: Horror & True Crime Podcasts.
True Crime Podcasts & Horror Podcasts
I’ve been a scaredy-cat my whole life, but with a twist. Even if I’m terrified of the idea of something, I still am DYING to know every single gory detail. I’ve never been to a haunted house in my life, but believe me, I’ve read dozens and dozens of detailed walk-throughs of some of the scariest ones in the country. I can’t watch many scary movies, but I spoil myself by reading an entire synopsis at the first chance I can get. I’m so drawn to horror and everything dark and grim and spooky, even if I don’t have the guts sometimes.
So, naturally, I’ve found myself drawn to podcasts with the same themes. Here are some of my favorites I’ve subscribed to over the years. These are in no particular order, except maybe the first one.
1. My Favorite Murder
There is no way that I couldn’t include this at the top of my list. MFM is 100000% a love it or hate it type show. The hosts typically spend at LEAST 45 minutes at the beginning of each episode just catching up, chatting and letting any distraction guide their conversation until they get to the meat of the cast, which is taking turns basically doing a book report on a murder case. Look… listen. I came for the murder, but I stayed for Karen and Georgia. Fans (Murderinos) remind me of what I was like as a pre-teen — just filled with an excited RELIEF that I wasn’t the only one obsessed with reading about murder. And when the Golden State Killer was caught, listening to Karen and Georgia excitedly recounting all the news and speculating on what was to come reminded me of that summer day in my bedroom, glued to the TV, watching BTK testify.
Recommended Episodes: UGH, I can’t even pick. Even though I love their banter, I really do love the Minisodes just to hear them rapid-fire local stories sent in by listeners. Just go back to the beginning and try a couple, then try a couple more, and then just listen to them all. But for sure find the one about the pervert who tries to flash girls by holding swiss cheese over his penis. Classic.
2. In the Dark
While I’m currently making my way through the second season, the first season of In The Dark is a goddamn masterpiece. The first installment of this show, which is produced by American Public Media, is all about Jacob Wetterling. Growing up in the 90s in Minnesota, Jacob Wetterling was a name that everyone knew. He disappeared from his town in central Minnesota in 1989 and what happened to him was one of the state’s biggest mysteries. Until… right as the podcast was in its last stages before being released, the killer of Jacob was revealed and arrested, confessing to the crime and explaining in awful, awful detail what happened that night. The podcast up until that point was incredible journalism, but hearing how it shifts once this crime is solved is so incredibly engaging, exhilarating, and satisfying for any fan of true crime, but especially for one from Minnesota.
Recommended Episodes: It’s ten episodes and it’s a serial – just listen to them all!
3. Astonishing Legends
I was recommended this podcast by a friend of mine when I was searching high and low for more true crime to fill my download folder in my podcast app. (I use Pocket Casts, by the way!) I started listening when I was moving houses — I had plenty of cleaning and packing to do, so an engaging pod was exactly what I needed. I don’t want to say that it’s a lighthearted podcast, but it isn’t as grim and dark and tense as others in the genre. There were plenty of times, though, where I had to pause it because I was too afraid to listen in my room alone in the house…
4. Best of Coast to Coast
A legend – Coast to Coast is an AM radio show that’s been airing late at night since the 80s, created by Art Bell and now hosted by George Noory. The show is hours long and airs every night and features topics ranging from political conspiracies to aliens to black-eyed children to ghosts and more. It feels more like an underground radio show that you happened to find on the airwaves when you couldn’t sleep at night, rather than something you downloaded to your phone. This pod has mini clips from the full-length shows, giving you interviews and news reports on any paranormal news going on in the world. Something about it just creeps me out so much, in the yummiest way.
Recommended Episodes: There are hundreds – just scroll til you find a topic you’d like and try it out.
5. Dead for Filth
Pivoting a bit to a horror (and NOT true crime) themed podcast, Dead for Filth is actually my most recent pod sub. This show, hosted by Michael Varrati, is devoted to gore and glamour and is a queer horror focused podcast. I found it, actually, because of my current obsession with Dragula and all the queens that have been on the show. Biqtch Puddin’ is my reigning queen, and of course, she was on an episode. Varrati is so personable and easy to listen to, and this pod checks off so many boxes when it comes to talking about what I personally love about horror fans. I love the focus on the camp, but I also love how much time he spends talking with the guests about why they love the genre so much and how it has affected their lives and careers.
6. Women in Caskets
Brought to you by Bloody Disgusting, Women in Caskets is a podcast about horror movies. The hosts do multi-episode retrospectives on classic horror films – like Evil Dead and Nightmare on Elm Street – as well as interviews and top tens. The episode that brought me in was an interview with the host of Haunters, a documentary about different types of haunted houses around the country. This podcast makes for great at the gym listening.
7. Heaven’s Gate
I remember sitting in my living room as a 12-year-old girl, watching news coverage of the inside of the Heaven’s Gate compound — all those bodies lying in the beds, partially covered by blankets and their Nikes sticking out at the ends. It was my first introduction to what cults were and, obviously, mass suicide. This podcast goes deep, deep, deep and answered so many questions that I had all the way back in 1997, like who were these people and how did they believe in this stuff? This podcast is hosted by Glynn Washington from Snap Judgement, so you KNOW it’ll sound amazing, too.
Recommended Episodes: All of ’em! In order!
8. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark
Only three episodes, this is a podcast that is hard to forget and important not to miss. Michelle McNamara was the owner of True Crime Diary, a site that I definitely visited over the years, and a woman who was obsessed with finding the Golden State Killer. She was writing the book with the same name as the podcast when she tragically died both before the book was finished and the GSK was caught. This podcast is the story about the book, how it came to be, and how it was published after she was gone.
(Side note: I listened to this on the plane on the way to Dallas for a business trip in late April. Literally that DAY it was announced he was arrested. What!!)
Recommended Episodes: All!
Most people have heard of Lore by now — the dramatic story-telling of historical creepy happenings is kind of a mainstay in lists of pods for spooky fans. Last year, the show was turned into a TV series on Amazon. While I don’t listen to the show regularly anymore, I do admit that I powered through a LOT of episodes years ago when I first found it. However, my main time of listening was driving home late at night, on country roads in the middle of nowhere, surrounded only by darkness and zero cars…
10. Movie Crush
Movie Crush isn’t a horror podcast by definition but does include plenty of episodes dedicated to scary or suspenseful movies. This, actually, came QUITE in handy when the whole world was going crazy about Hereditary a few weeks ago. I knew that I 100% wouldn’t be watching it, but I had to, had to, had to know what happened in it. Cut to — their podcast about it! Thanks for letting me live vicariously through you, Chuck! This show invites guests to talk about their favorite movies. Looking now, the newest episode is Daveed Diggs talking about Get Out! Ahhh! (If you like the How Stuff Works network, you’ll like this, since it’s part of the family!)
11. Switchblade Sisters
Switchblade Sisters, from the Maximum Fun network, interviews film industry-adjacent guests about films within the genre, giving the reviews and commentary a female perspective. Like Women in Caskets, I’m so happy to have as many female-driven podcasts about horror as a whole, a genre where the conversations are mainly led by men. I haven’t deep dived into this cast as much as others, and I’m excited to have a backlog to pick through.
Listen on Apple
12. You Must Remember This
On a recommendation from my friend at my last job, You Must Remember This reminds me so much of moving out of my house last summer. During a road trip, my friend had listened to the 12-part episode on Charles Manson and his relationship with Hollywood. I downloaded the series while I was deep cleaning my kitchen preparing to move out — scrubbing the inside of my oven listening to Manson’s friendship with the Beach Boys and dismantling the inside of my fridge hearing about how he and the family moved to Spahn Ranch. It was an eerie backdrop, but I ate it up. This podcast about true crime in old Hollywood is perfect, really.
Heart-breaking, scary, and nerve-wracking, this series about the Boston Strangler isn’t necessarily an easy listen. It is a 12-part series detailing the unsolved case of the man who killed 13 women 50 years ago. It’s brutal, it’s personal, and it’s beautifully narrated – just listen when you have the constitution to hear the real details of some sad events.
Recommended Episodes: All of ’em!
Ones that haven’t made the list, but still worth including!
- Casefile: I found this when the GSK was caught. The series on the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer is chilling and a hard one to get through. I’ve heard that it’s given the toughest true crime fans nightmares. I never could finish it. (Official website.)
- True Crime Garage: Another podcast about serial killers. I liked it but didn’t love it. The episodes are creepy-detailed, and I remember not being able to get through the Gacy set. (Official website.)
- Serial: I was obsessed with the Adnan season as much as the rest of the world (I parked in a random parking lot to finish the season finale before I went to work the morning it aired), but I felt weird including this in the list. But then, I felt weird NOT including it. (Official website.)
… Even More True Crime and Horror Podcasts
In the world of podcasts, you’ll find a ton you love, but just as many that you don’t love. Or that you do at first, and it fizzles. Here is just a handful that I tried – and that so many people like – but I just couldn’t continue to listen.
- Last Podcast on the Left: When I first saw their episode archive, I lost my mind. EVERYTHING they talked about was so interesting to me – cults & murderers & conspiracy & cryptozoology. But, after a few episodes, I found that the hosts’ sense of humor waaaasn’t totally for me. (Official website.)
- Sword and Scale: A dark and dramatic true crime podcast, but it soon blurred the line of what was documentary and what was salacious — too many 911 calls, too much graphic detail. It began to feel exploitative. Plus, I heard the host isn’t so great as a human being. (Official website.)
- True Crime Obsessed: A pair of friends talking about true crime Netflix and HBO documentaries. They’re mostly fine, but they get a little much to listen to over and over and over again. It was like being on a three-way call with your friends, but they were drunk after-bar explaining what they thought of Mommy Dead and Dearest. (Official website.)
- True Crime Japan: Serial killers and murder stories aren’t incredibly common in Japan, so when something does happen, it’s so interesting to hear WHY this person went haywire. I loved the episode about the Akihabara killer, but the hosts just were not experienced enough for me to continue listening. I just looked up the episode descriptions on Wikipedia instead… (Soundcloud.)
- Teen Creeps: Like, this podcast was MADE for me. Two women recount the pulpy YA novels of their youth (think Christopher Pike and RL Stine’s Fear Street), but the hosts get a little too off track and veer into comedy tangents that my mind ended up wandering. That might say more about my mind, though. (Official website.)
- Welcome to Nightvale: Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhh…… (Official website.)
Wow, over 2,500 words later, and this first podcast series post is done! Can you tell I’m passionate about spooky things and podcasting? What are YOUR favorite true crime pods? What about scary ones? As you can see, I only included non-fiction — no fictional story podcasts, etc. Are there any that you recommend? Let me know in the comments!