While Halloween is the second biggest retail holiday of the year, it is also shaping up to be a big score for the podcasting pantheon. A number of producers are targeting the day as an opportunity to launch new shows or special episodes of series ready-made for spine chillers. It’s not just horror getting the attention, either. Halloween will also deliver new true-crime and science fiction shows.
Renowned podcast producer and host Aaron Mahnke is releasing a second season of his iHeartRadio documentary podcast series “Unobscured.” While the first season focused on the dark events of the 1692 Salem witch trials, the second delves into the world of Spiritualism. Mahnke will trace its bizarre trajectory from a scattered fad to a worldwide phenomenon and how it still impacts our world today.
Entercom’s Cadence 13 and Tenderfoot TV, the podcast company behind such earlier series as “Atlanta Monster” and “Up and Vanished,” will lean on Oct. 31 to launch its first semi-scripted podcast called “Radio Rental.” Hosted by Tenderfoot co-founder Payne Lindsey, the show chronicles real life stories set against the backdrop of a fictional world narrated by a video store clerk who holds a secret VHS collection of tales of the unexplained. “Radio Rental” explores stories of terror, spanning from eerie experiences with the dead, to close encounters with killers, to unexplained phenomena that haunt storytellers. Over the course of each episode, Lindsey interviews those who have lived to tell their terrifying tales.
“This podcast is something new,” Lindsey said. “As our first semi-scripted project, it’s a bit of a departure from our other work. I really wanted to create a fun new world for these stories to live… a place where the listener can feel immersed in the horror without being weighed down by it. The world of ‘Radio Rental’ is fictional, but the stories are real from real people.” The podcast launches its first two episodes on Halloween, with subsequent episodes premiering every Tuesday.
Meanwhile at Parcast, the studio is releasing a new series of podcasts under the “Parcast Presents: Halloween” banner. The programs look into myths, legends and true crime stories with a spooky undertone to each, and comprises special releases from 10 podcasts that are part of the Parcast Network. The “Mythical Monsters” podcast will issue an episode about Kraken, a legendary giant cephalopod-like sea monster that terrorizes sailors in Scandinavian folklore, sinking ships and taking lives; while the “Haunted Places” podcast will release a series of episodes about urban legends. And “The Villains”—a new show debuting this month— and the Female Criminal podcast series will also release special programming.
“Cryptids,” created and written by Alexander V. Thompson, follows Eve, a pediatric hospice nurse, and Trevor, a late night conspiracy radio show host, in search of an afterlife. But instead, they find a truth beyond their wildest nightmares. “Eve is a true believer. She uses Trevor’s radio show to escape from the death she faces every day while at work. Eve finds faith in believing something else is out there—but, she needs to prove that something is real and forces her way into Trevor’s off-air life. Together, they set out to find the truth behind a well-believed conspiracy: Aliens on the moon are orchestrating death and harvesting human souls.”
Proving the existence of Gods and Monsters, “Cryptids” will release a new episode every Sunday until the end of October, throughout Halloween season. The first two episodes are now available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher.
And WGBH Boston has created a new horror anthology podcast designed for tweens, “The Creeping Hour.” The first of five episodes launches Oct. 3, with the finale released on Halloween. The public radio station describes it as: “A polluted beach, a horrifying creature and a group of kids who didn’t listen to a warning.” We are introduced to three monsters brought to life: Axe, Toro and Weta, in each 15- to 20-minute episode.
“We are excited to be exploring ways to reach tweens and teens on the wide range of platforms they engage with, and in this case, to be thinking creatively and innovatively about impact and reach with audio storytelling,” noted Hillary Wells, Executive Producer and Director of Youth Media at WGBH.
And finally, former NPR producer Kara McGuirk-Allison and founder of production consulting company, Platform Media LLC, launched on Sept. 1 “The Ghost in My Room,” which explores the haunted histories of different locations in Maryland and Pennsylvania each week. In total, her team has conducted nine investigations during the season, with locations ranging from an antique museum in Havre de Grace to an inn overlooking the battlefields in Gettysburg.
“I love history,” McGuirk-Allison says in Washingtonian. “For me, the investigation is cool, but the other part that I think is really cool is the history.” The Annapolis resident has had an interest in all things paranormal and creepy from a young age, sparked by what she believed was a haunting in her childhood home. After contacting the team from “The Dead of Night”—which comprises two mediums and a historian, plus a wide array of ghost-hunting technology—and following along with an investigation they were live streaming on Facebook, McGuirk-Allison proposed the podcast to them. Washingtonian notes, “While ghost hunting can be almost mundane in video form—it’s not often you find physical proof of a haunting—the ambient noise and sounds from the equipment used during investigations was well-suited for podcasting.”