Amplifying Spooky Voices: Mystery Podcasts

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While some of you surely indulge in the spooky and scary all year round, October is widely considered to be the only socially acceptable time to immerse yourself in the morbid, macabre, and all-around mysterious. Some prefer to marathon scary movies, others prefer to binge terrifying TV, and others like to spend their Halloween season with a page-turning, heart racing horror novel or two. You can’t forget about podcasts, though. There are all sorts of great mystery podcasts out there that are sure to get you in the Halloween spirit. These are some of our favorites.

Serial (This American Life)

While mysterious crime podcasts had been around long before Serial was released to the public in the fall of 2014 (October 3rd, to be exact), there’s no denying the fact that journalist and host Sarah Koenig and her This American Life spinoff series completely changed the genre from that point forward. Creating a pandemonium of sorts that led millions of listeners to scramble to learn everything they could about its central murder-mystery, Serial is an absolute must-listen for any of you who are interested in podcasts that tell confounding true stories that few people know the real facts about.

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My Favorite Murder (Exactly Right)

Just because a podcast is mysterious doesn’t mean it also has to be serious. My Favorite Murder is proof of this: Hosts Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark tell each other their favorite murder-mystery stories and take stories from listeners, too, joking around and making each other laugh through it all. The two are true crime fanatics, and their podcast takes this love of the genre and practically creates a whole new one — One that feels like talking (and cracking jokes) about your favorite mysteries with your best friend instead of listening to a professional journalist tell them to you instead. With nearly 450 episodes under their belt so far — a truly staggering number, no doubt — the real mystery is wondering how long it’ll take you to get through it all (and trust us, you’ll want to).

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Paper Ghosts (iHeartRadio)

Despite what you might think based off of the title, iHeartRadio’s Paper Ghosts is not about the supernatural.As a matter of fact, Paper Ghosts is firmly rooted in reality. Still, the central mystery at its core feels as unbelievable as any ghost story: four different cases involving four different girls, all missing from their neighboring New England towns within the same small period of time between the mid to late 1970s. The investigation into their mysterious disappearances took decades, but host and investigative journalist M. William Phelps covers it all in just six incredibly gripping episodes.

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Dateline NBC (NBC News)

As one of the most preeminent voices in television true crime, it was only a matter of time before Dateline made the move to the world of podcasting. Simply titled Dateline NBC, this NBC News production creates podcasts that range anywhere from 40 minutes to over an hour and a half — ideal for those of you who can really dedicate the time to dive deep into a mystery or two. Like the television show itself, each episode follows a different true crime mystery featuring key interviews with the real people who were actually involved. If long-form podcasts with high production value are your thing, then this is the show for you.

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Lore (Grim & Mild)

There’s nothing more mystifying than a well-told story about a perplexing event. That’s what makes Lore, a podcast from Aaron Mahnke and Grim & Mild, work so well. With over 150 episodes to their name, Lore is so good at covering life’s most confounding mysteries that they’ve even spawned a two-season TV show and a series of books spinning off from the podcast. Covering anything from unbelievable creatures to horrifying events to strange locales, you won’t believe that Lore prioritizes fact over fiction.

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In the Red Clay (Imperative Entertainment)

During his lifetime, Billy Sunday Birt was considered to be the most dangerous man in all of Georgia history. In the Red Clay, Imperative Entertainment’s latest (and most mysterious) true crime podcast, seeks to explain why. Still unraveling the threads of the narrative with a new episode every Tuesday, In the Red Clay takes its time as it twists and turns through the life and the mystery of Birt and his time in the Peach State. By the time this podcast is through, one thing is for certain: Billy Birt and his Dixie Mafia will be hard to shake from the forefront of your mind.

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Unsolved Murders (Parcast)

Parcast’s podcasts are known for covering various wide-ranging subjects with incredible skill. Unsolved Murders is one of the best examples of this. Each episode takes on a different cold case, with many requiring two parts to cover the whole scope of the mystery of the week. Their hosts are top notch and their vast collection of over 230 episodes have enough content for you to keep busy for the duration of this October and many more Octobers to come. From serial killers to random slayings to the most puzzling true crime stories imaginable, Unsolved Murders definitely deserves to be one of your staples for this spooky season.

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The Vanished (Wondery)

A running theme throughout these podcasts is clearly the subject of missing people. Easily one of the most disturbing and frightening parts of the underbelly of America, it’s important to note that over 600,000 people go missing each and every year here in the U.S. The Vanished, put out by Wondery, proves to be impressively comprehensive at this shocking fact. Going past your typical surface-level news report to get at the deep, dark truth of the disappearances, The Vanished is both an engrossing mystery podcast and a valiant effort to bring answers to the families of those impacted most by these stories of missing persons. Host Marissa Jones is doing essential work here, that’s for sure.

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Someone Knows Something (CBC Podcasts)

It’s the overarching phrase that any investigator will tell you is at the heart of every unsolved mystery: someone knows something. That’s where CBC Podcasts’ Someone Knows Something gets its name. No matter what the crime, no matter what the murder, no matter what the circumstance, someone somewhere has to know something about what happened at the scene. Host David Ridgen searches for answers by interviewing as many people related to the cold case as he can, hoping to find out who’s harboring the secrets that could finally bring some peace of mind to the families and friends of the victims. With six different subjects so far, Ridgen dedicates an entire season to one specific case and gets as thorough as he possibly can.

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Further Listening

Whether you’re looking for other scary podcasts to listen to this October or you’re in search of a completely different (and possibly more lighthearted) genre of podcast entirely, Backtracks has got all of your podcast needs completely covered. Regardless of if you’re wanting to listen to something funny, something movie or television-related, or you’re looking for something newsworthy and thought-provoking, there’s plenty of excellent podcasts on our site as well as many great curated podcast collections like this one over on our blog. Check it out for yourself and be on the lookout for more spooky voices in podcasting coming soon!

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