SCP ARCHIVES

SCP-078 is a darkened stairwell located on an undisclosed college campus that contains two very disturbing anomalies. The fact that the stairwell itself appears to be endless is disconcerting enough, but the anomalies contained within are enough to scare even the bravest of souls.

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SCP ARCHIVES

by Dōhai

Secure. Contain. Protect.

Episode 1. Released Tuesday 19th March 2019.

SCP-078 is a darkened stairwell located on an undisclosed college campus that contains two very disturbing anomalies. The fact that the stairwell itself appears to be endless is disconcerting enough, but the anomalies contained within are enough to scare even the bravest of souls.

Episode 1 of SCP Archives brings this scary tale brings to life and it’s just one of the thousands (and I do mean thousands) of files found on scp-wiki.net that form the basis of the show.

Given the material, it probably comes as no shock to you that the people bringing this cornucopia of strange and obscure phenomena are the fine people at Bloody Disgusting Podcast Network, who have teamed up with Jon Grillz (Small Town Horror, Creepy) and Pacific S. Obadiah (Lake Clarity, Aftershocks, Enoch Saga).

Having listened without headpones (where the hell are they?) I just had to wake Pacific, (who says he “wasn’t asleep” but the drool on his keyboard says different) and ask him a few questions. Don’t worry, I gave him some time to get a coffee.

Who’s initial idea was it to bring these documents to life, and on what basis have you chosen files to use?

Jon’s actually! He reached out sometime around last summer and mentioned his idea, and I was on board, but at the time I was working on two other shows, so I kinda put the idea on the back burner, until I saw some stray comment on r/Audiodrama (A reddit board for audio dramas) asking about an SCP podcast. I messaged Jon, and we got to work.

Right now, we’re just going down the list of most popular stories of all time on http://www.scp-wiki.com. Only rule is the story must have at least one addendum (like an interview, field notes, tests, etc). Popular stories without addendums are going on our Patreon for now!

How many stories have you chosen to cover for a first season, or are you planning to continue indefinitely? If so, how many stories have you got in the can/ in various stages of production?

Technically our first season is 29 episodes – Which brings us to October 1. Though we don’t really have any plans of stopping when we hit that. Those episodes have all been recorded, and the first 10 are in various stages of post production. I think once we hit 20 episodes, I’ll start working on new episodes past October 1. I have some pretty fun plans for October!

How much artistic licence are you planning to use in regards these files? I notice the stairwell story stays pretty tight to the wiki file, but I can see the potential to take it further in the form of the “Data Expunged” Document 087-IV which could give it a whole new lease of life.

That’s one of the really cool things about working on a story that’s in the creative commons, we’re free to adapt and remix however we want! For this first “season” we want to stay pretty true to the wiki, a lot of our artistic license comes in the sound design and music. Though, Jon and I have definitely talked about doing some original content, whether that be an all new SCP, or expansion on previous lore, that’s still under wraps- For now. We have a few little experiments you’ll see within our first season, and if they work out well, even more in the future!

Do any of the team plan on writing their own SCP stories, either for the show or the SCP wiki? More importantly (my lips are sealed if they need to be) will there be an underlying story that will slowly reveal itself?

None of us have ever written SCPs, but I’ve been reading the wiki since I was pretty young! While there won’t be a very overt overarching story in the first season, it’s important to know that our “Narrator” is a character in this world, and he has his own reasons for doing what he does, his own approaches to things, and while a lot of these entries will be things that have been secured, he exists in the present and is still working.

Well if that’s not a little cryptic nugget that will stir a little excitement then I don’t know what is. A huge thanks to Pacific, who’s now run off to one of his finals so the only thing left to do is wish him and the rest of the crew the best of luck with this new show (and his exams)!

You can check out the show on your usual applications, or at any of the show links above. Enjoy!


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What’s the Frequency?

If weird psychedelic noir is your thing, or you haven’t experienced it before, then put down the bug powder, shoot your wife in the head, and take a hit of the motherload!

Words?

words Words

Words words words words words, words, words, words words. Words words words words words, words words words, words words words words.

Words, words words words words, words? WORDSSSSS!! sdrowsdrowsdrowsdrowsdrow¿

Words. words

Words words owrds words, words srowd drows swrod, sword!

*Insert cigarette commercial*

What’s The Frequency? is like yeast extract, you’ll either love it or hate it. It is dark, it is frightening, and it makes you feel very uncomfortable… very often! It prods a boney finger in your chest asking over and over again, ‘What’s The Frequency?’ What IS the Frequency? WHAT’S THE FREQUENCY?

As I say, you’ll either love it or hate it. For a point of reference, let’s compare it to Twin Peaks. If you are one of the latter then this show is most probably not for you. In fact I would just forget what you’ve seen here and be on your merry way. For those of you that conform to the ‘like’ category, I would ask “how much do you like it?” because to be fair the analogy I’m using here is a little off, because What’s The Frequency? is more akin to Lynch’s first work, ‘Eraserhead’. Twin Peaks was a jolly jaunt through a strange town whilst high on marijuana, where ‘Eraserhead’ is more akin to being trapped in the infinite loop of a nightmarish heroin overdose.

From the start, this show goes straight for the jugular. No setting up of pretense here.

What starts as a struggle between the mob, the police, and a private investigator over a ledger providing proof of police bribery, soon escalates into something darker, more esoteric. A struggle for a power that doesn’t belong in the hands of mere mortals, yet here they are, fighting over said power. As far as the plot goes, that’s all you’re going to get from me. I wouldn’t want to spoil your tumble down this kaleidoscopic rabbit hole, so let’s move on to the style.

Imagine listening to a 1940’s private eye radio drama complete with commercials, as it was back in the day. If you’ve explored these ancient recordings to any degree then you will instantly recognise the format, although the adverts here are wonderfully sarcastic. Now imagine a reel-to-reel recording sent, accidentally of course, to the home of William S. Burroughs, who took a machete to it, mailed it to his future ghost-self, who then reassembled it with a nail gun, and attempted to play it on an mp3 player. The result, a terrifying version of words that pays homage to the radio shows of the era, and the Beat Generation. With a tongue pushed firmly into its cheek, and syringes still dangling from it’s pockmarked arms, it not only serves as a reflection of the era, but gives it a 21st century kick in the…

Most of the time it’s a perfect balance between the delivery of the story and the craziness that punctuates it, but there are a few occasions when the train just can’t seem to get back on the rails to conclude an episode, leaving me to drift off into disappointment. It’s like the darkness has taken over. The handy jolt that brings you back out of the hole to reveal the conclusion in the stalled plot has been forever lost, and you’re left spiraling the plughole until the end of the episode. I must say I’m glad that I waited until the first season was released before listening, because with a month between episodes, I feel I would have given up on it, and to give up on this story would be unforgivable.

WTF? has picked up a slew of awards from the audio drama community, and rightly so. I have been waiting for someone to push the boundaries beyond the expected norms for a while now. Not to necessarily slap the listeners in the face as it were, (although they do), but rather to question the humdrum horror/ sci-fi/ comedy/ sitcom carousel of the indie drama world. I’m not saying the indie drama scene is lacking excitement, there are plenty of amazing shows to be found in these genres, but it feels to me that rather than creating something new and exciting, many new artists out there are just using the tried and tested templates and riding the coattails, rather than striding out on their own path; and if you want to get noticed in this fast growing medium, this is something you are going to need to do.

The acting here is great on all sides, although the casting of Karim Kronfli as Walter Mix seems a little odd to me. A 1940’s PI in LA this voice is not, I would say he’s more suited to a Sherlock Holmes or a Dick Barton than a Sam Spade or Philip Marlow. It’s not enough to take me out of the story, and the dynamic between Troubles and Whit is brilliant as you would expect from these veterans, but it’s just a little niggle, a little itch behind the ear that gets the occasional subconscious scratch.

Kudos to Oliva, Danner, and the rest of the team for this refreshing piece of art. I’m looking forward to more.

If weird psychedelic noir is your thing, or you haven’t experienced it before, then put down the bug powder, shoot your wife in the head, and take a hit of the motherload!

The Deep Dive Into…

Some 400 years into the history of the New Earth – or Edict Zero as it is officially designated – the first act of terrorism has been committed by one Mister Cooke.

Edict Zero – FIS

By Lex Scott

Ever since I started getting into scripted podcasts, I’ve wished I could find proper full episode reviews and breakdowns. I could never find them, but that might because I never looked in the right place. So, when Podern Times started up and I was asked what I wanted to work on, that was of course the first thing I said. I was recommended a show to check out and review and it was off to the races.

The show was terrible. I thought “I don’t think I can stomach listening to two more seasons of this show”

It turns out it was a joke! I was supposed to hate that show (ed: SORRY! ) and there was something far more substantial, and of significantly higher quality waiting just up next in my podcast queue. The second recommendation: Edict Zero – FIS.

Here was a show that, at eight years old, is still held up as a benchmark of quality for audio dramas, and is regarded by many in the community to be one of the best the medium has to offer. And that’s not just in sci-fi: every new show, regardless of genre, is measured against the astounding quality of writing and production design on display here. And yet no one has really broken it down or analysed it before.

It was everything I’d been hoping for, and almost everything it’s reputation promised: big long meaty episodes roughly an hour each. Excellent technical quality and absolute masterful sound design. I knew, if I could get into the story there would be plenty to sustain a series of articles of analysis, conjecture, and gushing over this veritable audible feast.

So, please join me as I take a long journey, episode by episode, deep into the future of New Earth and the Federal Investigative Services, as presented by Jack Kincaid and Slipgate Nine Entertainment.

And of course, spoilers ahead.

Prequel/ Episode 1, 2415 Part 1

Some 400 years into the history of the New Earth – or Edict Zero as it is officially designated – the first act of terrorism has been committed by one Mister Cooke. An interesting if overly hostile character, our time with him in this episode is sadly very brief.

He unfortunately is emblematic of one of the main issues I had with this episode though: an overly wordy talker, unnecessarily hostile to everyone he meets. It’s a trope I’ve seen time and again in every medium imaginable and I always find it tiresome, because it’s just not believable.

People just don’t get to be that openly hostile to others and still interact with them. He’s rude to the butler who ushers him through the building, he’s rude to security doing his job, the only person he’s not rude to is the girl he rescues.

Side note: I’m assuming both Cooke and Melissa Parker survived, otherwise the entire opening is pointless.

Maybe Cooke’s whole demeanor is meant to make him one of these “characters you’re supposed to hate” but I’ve never bought into that trope. Either engender sympathy for your hero’s plight to make us hate the villain as an obstacle, or make us fear the villain for his actions. Making a vaguely hostile and oddly verbose character just takes me out of the moment and reminds me it’s unrealistic.

Near the end of the episode we learn that Cooke was involved in procuring mystic items for this now deceased mob boss. I’m inclined to believe this suitcase bomb was one of these Paradox Artifacts, and can probably be used more than once. My guess is some sort of black hole or gravity distortion bomb. And the fact that Cooke and Melissa probably survived indicates he probably has more than one in his possession, likely one for some sort of teleportation. It’s debatable whether he also actually does possess the Hex Gate Disc he was supposed to trade for Melissa Parker’s life.

Edict Zero is on the whole an extremely impressive piece of literature. On a technical level it is nothing short of astounding, with sound effects, music, and background noise all expertly layered together to form a truly impressive soundscape that really does build a picture in your mind of where you are. Every scene transition is smooth and flawless without being unnecessarily telegraphed. There is the occasional robotic voice telling us of our new location when it’s necessary or pertinent, but it always feels like it too is part of the world.

It actually feels like an automated train announcement, telling us what stop we’ve just arrived at. This even gives us an extra layer of subconscious detail by subtly telling our brains that time has passed while we travelled here.

Another scene transition that blew my mind in its simplicity was a simple change in audio quality. There are a few instances where a character is on the phone with someone, and we hear their voice as though through a phone. Now in video you can quickly switch back and forth, showing the different locations, but here we slowly transition from hearing one character through the phone’s distortion to the other. And we end the interaction now following the second character, in the new location.

It’s an incredibly subtle change, and I doubt most listeners would pick up on it consciously, but  no one would fail to realise that we’ve suddenly changed perspective.

It’s simple, almost consciously imperceptible, and impressively effective.

There were unfortunately a few times where they spent too much time setting the scene, and the whole thing felt a bit too audibly busy, with sound effects and background noises building and bustling. But, as this is the first episode and almost a decade old at this point, I’m expecting this to be improved as the series progresses.

Our second major character is another trope I’m generally a bit tired of, but in this instance I’m more bothered by the people around him than the actual character.

That is one agent Nick Garrett, an example of the Sherlock type character. He’s studied it all, is well versed in the various sciences, but lacks the intuitive understanding of actual people that most develop in their early years. He lacks the “correct” emotional response to most situations, and comes at everything with a critical, analytical mind.

As this character trope goes he’s not bad, but it’s the others around him that make it aggravating to me as an audience.

He lacks any hostility or superiority in his tone to be truly rude, but everyone he meets acts as though he’s the foulest most offensive thing they’ve ever had the displeasure of enduring. Though admittedly this seems limited to FIS agents, in particular those who seem to really lean on their authority and positions. The son of the murdered mob boss seemed to be pretty reasonable in talking to him. This leads to us immediately distrusting most of the other (non-pov) agents. In particular one Agent Whiteman of the organised crime division.

Side note: in regards to Whiteman, they spent so much time showing us how incorruptible he is that if he doesn’t end up being a traitor I well be genuinely shocked.

A counterpoint to the Agent Garrett character is presented in the form of Agent Kircher, and the way she’s treated by the narrative/ other characters is troubling.

In the briefing scene there are two people interrupting Agent Whiteman: Garrett, and Kircher. While Garrett is removed from the room and verbally dressed down, he’s otherwise allowed to continue his own personal investigation. Meanwhile, Kircher is tolerated in the room but later simply removed from the case entirely.

She’s not given the same opportunity to pursue her (entirely relevant) leads, or even confronted about her somehow “disrespectful” behaviour. She’s simply removed without ever being given the same opportunity to defend her position. This is unfortunate but probably unconscious gender politics on display, and the complete difference in the way their actions were responded to warrants further thought and discussion. I don’t believe this was a deliberate or even conscious choice by the writers, but in 2018 it really sticks out.

We close out the episode with a final scene introducing us to our major lead in the case: the homeless, probably mentally ill “Captain” Socrates, an associate of Mister Cooke.

This scene with Socrates is honestly one of if not the single weakest in the entire episode. I know people say in acting you make a choice and it’s better than not making a choice, and Jack Kincaid – the creator of this show, and actor of this role – certainly made a choice.

The trouble is I think that choice was bad.

It’s a tired and, once again overly verbose, caricature of a mental patient from the 1950’s. Speaking in a pastiche of upper class gentleman explorer vernacular, he seemingly speaks in an interminable mashup of movie quotes and pop culture references that lose all meaning when jammed in next to each other. I get that this is probably the aim, presenting an unhinged character with a scattered brain and neurons firing every which way all at once, but it is so world breaking it completely takes me out of the moment every time I hear it.

I cringe, every time, and not in the way the writer probably intended.

Conclusions/ Predictions

Overall I like this show. It is a master class in audio presentation and mixing, truly the most complex and technical show I’ve ever had the pleasure to hear and I genuinely feel like I learned a lot about the craft just by listening to it. The world building is top notch and genuinely engaging, and I really am looking forward to hearing the next episode and knowing what happens to our characters.

One of my favourite things about finding a new (to me) show with a big back catalogue spanning years is getting to see a kind of time lapse of their skills, as the creators grow and develop as people and artists. Getting to go back to the beginning of a journey and looking for all the kernels of promise present right from the start; crossing your fingers and watching them tease out their problematic or tired tropes into well defined thoughts is always engrossing.

I am genuinely looking forward to continuing with this series and seeing where it leads. And, hopefully seeing them outgrow some of these things that bothered me.

Go download Episode 2 right now, and join me next time as I continue my Deep Dive into Edict Zero – FIS.


Girl in Space

The last man on earth concept is a popular one in science fiction. I am Legend, The Omega Man, and Oblivion all spring immediately to mind, but my personal favorite is a relatively new addition to the subgenre: Girl in Space.

By Lex Scott

The last man on earth concept is a popular one in science fiction. I am Legend, The Omega Man, and Oblivion all spring immediately to mind, but my personal favorite is a relatively new addition to the subgenre: Girl in Space.

This radio play is frankly an astounding achievement, and a testament to a medium many would dismiss off-hand as dead or irrelevant. At times heartwarming, tense, and funny, this show is everything you could want shoved directly into your earballs.

“Abandoned on a dying ship in the farthest reaches of known space, a young scientist fights for survival (and patience with the on-board A.I.). Who is she? No one knows. But a lot of dangerous entities really want to find out…”

This is how we are introduced to the girl we’ll come to call X, and it is so wonderfully compelling you wouldn’t believe. It sucks you in with concept, and hooks you with it’s superb acting and excellent execution.

Let’s talk about that execution.

Girl in Space is written, produced by, and stars Sarah Rhea Werner, a professional writer, speaker, and podcaster She left a decades long marketing career, (why are all us writers former/current marketing professionals? I mean, there’s some crossover skill-wise but still…) to pursue her creative passions. I personally believe that move has paid off tremendously. Sarah’s performance is so rich in emotion and honesty that it alone is enough to pull you in. Acting is hard, and voice acting is even harder. I seriously cannot heap enough praise on this performance. It is nothing short of mind blowing.

The writing itself is fantastic. Polished and tight without any real wasted time, while simultaneously feeling very raw and off the cuff. The character of X is one with no filter: on a space station alone, and encouraged from an early age to vent her free-flowing thoughts into a portable recorder will do that to a person. So her character needs to do a lot of free association and be allowed to let her mind wander, (even in life or death situations; let’s just say that her mouth gets her in trouble a few times). This gives X a very charming, naive quality that’s never boring or off-putting. I’m not usually a fan of “naturalistic” dialogue; I always say if I wanted to hear natural dialogue I’d just go outside. I always want tight, focused speech from characters, a heightened reality. But coming from X and Sarah’s performance it is such a perfect character choice. Like having a friend who talks all the time, but in such a pleasant way you can’t help but be charmed.

The sound design is a triumph. Filled with subtle ambient ticks to truly sell the out of this world atmosphere. We hear the whir of Charlotte’s (the ships irascible A.I) hydraulic arm as she moves in and out of the story, subtle music cues filling in emotional beats and pauses in the narration masterfully used to convey the almost wistful stream of consciousness present throughout the entire show.

The overall production quality is excellent. The actual voice recording is professionally crisp and clean, no pops or odd spikes in volume. Each sound, from speech to music to effects, are entirely clear; in many podcasts I find myself manually tweaking the volume as I go to adjust for someone suddenly becoming inaudible (through moving to far from the mic or to account for extra noises going on in the show) but I never found myself doing this with Girl in Space. Even at its most busy (and that’s never much, it is a very laid back show) I never found myself struggling to make out words over effects or musical cues.

The writing itself is amazing in its simplicity. In essence it is a stream of consciousness narrative: X, the eponymous girl in space, is alone on a space station. We know this, and we can infer from certain clues that she was there with her parents until one day they weren’t. From a young age she was given a recorder and encouraged to share her thoughts with it, both as a useful log of events (and a helpful training tool for scientific recording) and as a diary to stave off loneliness and provide a creative outlet. This leads to a character essentially with no filter, who’s spent her entire life (approximately 24 years by my count?) venting a stream of unfiltered thoughts into her diary.

You might think this would make for a boring character but surprisingly it doesn’t. The stream of consciousness is endearing and well presented, and helped along by being thoughtful and emotionally honest. It provides a genuine and narratively consistent window for us to experience her life as an audience.

Girl in Space is the only piece of literature I can think of that is absolutely perfectly suited to the medium it inhabits. Pretty much everything we consume, movies books television, can be (and often is) presented in any kind of medium. Any movie could be presented just as well as a book and you wouldn’t lose anything of the core content in the translation. Sure many movies or books do take advantage of their respective mediums, and any adaptation will by its very nature focus on different things, Harry Potter the book is not fundamentally different when experienced as Harry Potter the movie.

Not so with Girl in Space. It could not exist in any other form without being fundamentally, unrecognisably, different. Not just that it would lose something in the translation, but that it would not be Girl in Space anymore.

At every turn Sarah takes full advantage of the fact that her audience can only hear what’s going on, that she’s not limited by words on a page or the budget required for visual effects. She paints a rich landscape of emotion, futuristic setting, and engaging characters, all while only engaging a single one of our primary senses. This alone is enough for me to recommend this show to everyone I meet.

Girl in Space makes great and successful efforts to maintain a clean rating, and was intentionally created for all ages to enjoy. I never have any qualms about recommending it to any even remotely mature acquaintance. However if you are squeamish about slightly disturbing imagery such as descriptions of wounds and blood, and sci fi gun violence it might give you pause. Also it is very um, let’s say science friendly, and you should definitely be prepared for such graphic words as coagulation, narcissism, and epigenetics.

I might already have mentioned I’ve actively recommended Girl in Space to every thinking, breathing person I have even a brief interaction with. Quite frankly I think this show is a marvel and a tremendous achievement on every level. It succeeds technically, from sound effects and recording, to presentation and performance, and of course is narratively gripping and compelling in a way you just can’t believe until you listen for yourself. Do yourself a favour and check it out, I promise you won’t regret it.

Serial Meets Moonlighting – Arden Podcast

It seems each and every #audiodramasunday there’s a new podcast dropping about an unsolved murder where the killer is discovered and brought to justice within ten or twelve episodes. These types of shows – audio drama crime shows – are riding on the huge success of “true crime” podcasts such as Serial and S-Town and many others that continue to grow in popularity. And then there’s the Arden Podcast . . .

Serial Meets Moonlighting: The Arden Podcast

By Alex C. Telander

It seems each and every #audiodramasunday there’s a new podcast dropping about an unsolved murder where the killer is discovered and brought to justice within ten or twelve episodes. These types of shows – audio drama crime shows – are riding on the huge success of “true crime” podcasts such as Serial and S-Town and many others that continue to grow in popularity. And then there’s the Arden Podcast . . .

It began as an idea in 2016 when Todd Vanderwerff (Vox, A. V. Club) pitched his writing partner, Christopher Dole (National Theater Institute), with the tagline: “Serial meets Moonlighting.” Dole was immediately on board, and the two then brought in comedy writer Sara Ghaleb (Ruby LA House Team The Burbs), who apparently isn’t familiar with Moonlighting, but was just as excited. The result is a show that is in some ways like other crime dramas, and in many others completely unique and compelling.

The story is set within the glitz and riches of Hollywood stardom.

Ten years ago the renowned actor Julie Capsom ran her car off the road on a rainy night in Northern California, far from the safe and familiar environs of Los Angeles. No sign of her was ever found, she appears to have disappeared into thin air, while a headless corpse of an unknown man was found in the trunk of her car.

Now two unexpected people have decided to solve the case and explain it to the world on the podcast Arden.

There is Bea Casely, a reporter who knows how to follow the rules, but also knows some rules need to be bent every once in a while to get what you need. Brenda Bentley is a former police officer and now turned private detective, who has seen it all and very much wants to find out what exactly happened to Julie Capsom. The two, while not necessarily actual friends, are certainly acquaintances, and very competitive, but ultimately are willing to put their prejudices and feelings aside to work with each other towards this common goal.

Arden podcast is extremely well produced with limited but key sound effects, music that goes well with the dialog and moves the story along. The two main characters – Bea (performed by Michelle Agresti) and Brenda (performed by Tracey Sayed) – have a rapport and dynamic that is unique and special, and at the same time like any well-performing duo. The delivery of the lines, the acting, and the way they feed off each other is hilarious and makes the listener stop whatever they’re doing just to focus. Along with the rest of the cast, every actor is strong and compelling, so there is never a dull moment.

And to “cap(som)” it all off, Wheyface Industries – “the good people” – who owns the radio station and a good chunk of Hollywood, cuts in with some very interesting advertisements in each episode, such as an ad for Wheyface Industries itself [Arden Wheyface Industries Sound File], or the Wheyface Industries Dehydrated Drinks for Adults [Arden Dehydrated Drinks Sound File], or the new dating app Wheydate [Arden Wheydate Sound File].

In the style of the Amelia Project, A Very Fatal Murder, and The After Disaster Broadcast, Arden Podcast is an enthralling murder mystery that has ample humor and a dynamic cast that will leave you wanting more at the end of every episode. Do yourself a favor and download and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Alex’s Best Podcasts of 2018

I started listening to podcasts over five years ago, so narrowing down a best-of list is never easy, though I decided to make it a little easier by only picking shows that started in 2018.

By Alex C. Telander

I started listening to podcasts over five years ago. I began getting hooked on audio dramas around three years ago with the likes of Welcome to Night Vale, The Black Tapes, The Message, and Limetown. Since then I’ve had a continuously growing download list of audio dramas that seems to increase every week. Some shows I try and they don’t grab me; others I hang on for a while and then they lose me and I stop listening; and then there are the many that I devoutly wait for a new episode to drop each week.

The hashtag #audiodramasunday helps me a lot in finding new shows and makes me look forward to every Sunday, and not just because it’s a guaranteed day off from work for me: Creators and fans recommending on Twitter are a big way I discover and try out new shows. It helps that podcasts are a booming media and there are new shows starting every week.

Narrowing down a best-of list is never easy, though I decided to make it a little easier by only picking shows that started in 2018.

A little easier.

So here, in order of when they debuted, are my top six podcasts of 2018 (because I couldn’t get it down to a nice five).

“Desperate to find meaning in his life, troubled Matthew Leads takes a job as the caretaker of an Antarctic Research Facility. An atmospheric isolation horror following his struggles with mental illness, a broken heart and the suffocating presence of Station Blue.”

Created, written, and directed by Chad Ellis, who also voices the main character, Station Blue is a haunting show on many levels. Both the imagery and the tone of the show are icy and cold that helps to create an evocative atmosphere. There is of course the terror-filled nature of a man alone at an Antarctic Research Facility surrounded by miles and miles of ice and no other human beings, but the underlying subject the show wrestles with is mental illness.

Leads has never had anything come easy to him in his life, and to say he’s gone through a lot of shit doesn’t do it justice. Ellis imbues the character with life and empathy that leave the listener often moved to tears in his portrayal. With plans for two more seasons, I look forward to seeing where this show takes its characters (and me) next.

“A city of nightmares, horrors and shifting streets. I Am In Eskew is a fortnightly horror podcast, taking place in a nightmarish and ever-changing city. This show contains frequent scenes of body horror, bloodiness, and disturbing behaviour.”

When I listen to I am in Eskew, I am reminded of the “Hotel California” lyric: “You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.” There is no place like Eskew, where every horror you can imagine comes alive and is possibly waiting for you around the next corner, or behind the next door. It’s a town where it always seems to be raining and you never want to end up in. It is the story of David Ward who is stuck in Eskew and must live its everyday horrors. A British audio drama that not only features familiar English weather, but a sense of supernatural horror that fans of the late bestselling author James Herbert will appreciate.

“We Fix Space Junk follows seasoned smuggler Kilner and reluctant fugitive Sam, as they travel the galaxy, carrying out odd jobs on the fringes of the law.”

Another engaging and very entertaining British audio drama, We Fix Space Junk has the whole package, from a great logo and catchy sound effects and theme music, to impressive acting, and a great storyline that gives listeners an unpredictable episode every two weeks. Kilner and Sam get up to all sorts of adventures across the universe, working for the omnipresent and domineering Automnicon. It’s a fun show that always leaves listeners endlessly amused.

“A podcast about podcasting”

Wil Williams (if you’re a podcaster and you don’t know who she is, you are seriously missing out and need to get that fixed right away) and Gavin Gaddis (The Pod Report, Red Light Library, Standard Docking Procedure) teamed up in the spring of 2018 to do a podcast about podcasting, which doesn’t begin to cover the depth and insight this show reaches.

With 20 episodes in the can, Tuned in Dialed Up runs the gamut from “Spoilers Ahoy!” episodes, to numerous featured guests (the likes of Lizette Alvarez, Elena Fernandez-Collins, and Erin Kyan), to incredibly important episodes on casting calls to ethics in podcasting to monetization.

Sometimes TIDU can get dark and bleak, but that’s because sometimes podcasting needs to, to talk about incredibly important subjects from trans representation, how creators should treat fans and how fans should treat creators, to listeners and actors with disabilities. I avidly await each new episode TIDU, because I always know I’m going to learn a lot.

“Arden Podcast: Arden is a scripted audio drama that’s both mystery and comedy. The 12 episode first season follows Bea Casely, a journalist, and Brenda Bentley, a detective, as they work together to solve the 10-year-old disappearance of starlet Julie Capsom.”

Definitely one of the highlights of the year for me. The Arden Podcast began with the tagline “Serial Meets Moonlighting,” and recently wrapped up its first season (yes, you do find out what happened to Julie Capsom). Bea (performed by Michelle Agresti) and Brenda (Tracey Sayed) have a rapport and dynamic together that is up there with Cagney and Lacey and Kirk and Spock. Timeless and forever entertaining.

Humor is always present to add a levity to the grim subject, and the sexual tension between the two feels at times veritably palpable. There are plans for another season and I can’t wait to see what case this dynamic duo tackles next.

“Of course there are bad ideas. Like, a lot of them. But any idea can become a good story.”

As a writer, it can feel somewhat condescending to hear bestselling authors talk about writing and how you get it done when they’re not too worried about where next week’s paycheck is coming from. No Bad Ideas is a different sort of writing advice podcast. It features a trio of greats from the hugely (and still) popular Wolf 359: Zach Valenti, Sarah Shachat, and Gabriel Urbina.

The first hour is spent turning a terrible idea scoured from the Internet into a compelling and entertaining (and always amusing) story. The second half of the show has the three talking about the state of their creative endeavors and it is always so insightful and humbling as none of three hold back and confess to fears and worries all writers have on a daily basis.

And there you have my top podcasts for 2018. Have you listened to them all? You should really check them out. Have some favorites of your own from last year? Let me know what they are in the comments below.

Halloween Countdown: PodCake’s Horror Gallery

It’s Halloween and we have a bowl full of horror treats for you to sink your teeth into!

HALLOWEEN COUNTDOWN: PODCAKE’S HORROR GALLERY

By PodCake

Halloween continues to creep closer, approaching faster than you can fill up your bowl of candy “for the trick-or-treaters.” In a few short hours all sorts of ghosts and ghouls will be banging down your door, so there’s no better time to get caught up on the plethora of excellent horror podcasts available all around the audio drama community.

Here is a short but sweet list of horror audio dramas that never fail to get me in the mood for the most terrifying time of year. If you’re just wanting to bring some unlife back into your podcast library, or simply in need of a quick fix before we trade out our jack-o-lanterns for pumpkin pie, these might just be perfect for you to sink your teeth into.

Source: Freeimages


Archive 81

A popular entry into the “found-footage” category of podcasts, Archive 81 wraps its listener in a tight, gripping horror story filled with all the disturbing bits and pieces you might be lacking in your horror podcast binge. Learn alongside our hero as they desperately attempt to track down their missing friend, uncovering new and more terrifying details along the way.

If you’re a fan of The Black Tapes series, Archive 81 is sure to deliver the same chills, thrills, and suspense, with some added murky layers of mystery for flavor.

SAYER

Step into an immersive sci-fi setting as the sonorous voice of the A.I. guides you through your new life in Ærolith Dynamics. In the future, your life among the stars couldn’t be better. You are independent, self-sufficient, monitored, killed, tortured, and sometimes sucked into space.

But no need to worry, SAYER will wipe away your Earth-stained existence with one day of work after the next. Travel tower to tower, shift to shift, and cross your fingers to make it out alive before your lunch break.

The Infinite

One man alone in space, searching… Here we have The Infinite, a short but impressive sci-fi show consisting of only five episodes to date. Sometimes less and more and The Infinite provides an eerie and emotional ride for curious drifters.

It’s a pleasant combination of the Wolf 359 framework with a SAYER psychological horror edge for flavour. The Infinite is simple yet sinister, and easy to breeze through with its tense but entertaining storytelling. I assure you, you’ll feel right at home.

Return Home

Make your return to good old quirky horror shows with Return Home. In this mysterious little podcast, we are lulled into the rain-drenched tale of a man’s struggles when he comes face to face with the strange happenings of his hometown.

A weird and wonderful audio drama where horror meets hysterical laughter, Return Home is an equal parts creative and creepy show with a wide variety of supernatural, super creepy, and super weird things to keep you coming back.

The NoSleep Podcast

It’s dark out, it’s far past midnight, and you just can’t convince yourself to sleep. No need to worry, The NoSleep Podcast will ensure that when you do finally convince yourself to shut your eyes and drift into slumber, your dreams will be nightmares.

David Cummings and the rest of the equally talented cast speak smoothly, telling us stories found deep in the horror Reddit archives. Be welcome, but be wary of the tales to tell.

LORE

Something wicked this way comes, and it might just be coming from your closet. Horror has never hit so close to home with this beautifully crafted and thoroughly researched podcast. Join Aaron Mahnke as he guides curious listeners through the darkest recesses of the history books in an ever-so scary educational session.

LORE is an excellent choice for people may not be seeking out traditional horror audio drama, but still, want their fill of spooky trivia. LORE is its own special brand of scary with a reliance on crisp audio editing and episodes detailing a wide assortment of facts about the most popular urban legends and monsters.

The best thing about the audio drama community is that horror podcasts are a year-round activity. There’s always something new coming up in feeds, and the malformed brainchild of an audio drama creator is something to look forward to whether it’s October or not. But keep your eyes peeled, your palates open, and you might find something new to keep you terrified.


My name is Makaila Johnson, better known as PodCake. I specialize in handling reviews and literary criticism articles. Though I take my writing seriously, I do subscribe to an aesthetic of fluffy, dreamland inspired cuteness with an emphasis on pinks, pastels, and deserts.

Discover more about PodCake and the rest of the team over on our About Us page.

Horror Countdown: Mabel

If like us, you’re hungry for all things Halloween, the check out our spooktacular countdown and the wonderful Mabel.

Halloween Countdown: Mabel

By Chad Ellis

Sure gore filled, jump scare driven haunted mazes are fun, but when I think of Halloween I think of tradition, rituals. Societies meeting in the woods. Friends and strangers telling stories by firelight. The subtle things that resonate with all humans who have spent a night outdoors.

If you prefer bargains to dismemberment, poetry to screams of agony, and a love that hurts so deeply it shakes the bones of the earth, Mabel is your show this Halloween Season.

Not to say that Mabel lacks dismemberment or blood curdling screams, but their presence is there to add beauty, not shock value.

Mabel opens with a fairly simple premise: a caretaker of a dying woman in Ireland is attempting to reach that woman’s Granddaughter, Mabel, by phone. This elegant format carries us through the first Season of this predominantly single narrator show.

But what happens when you add an old, strange house that doesn’t behave quite the way we expect houses to behave? Or a mushroom ring in the garden? Or a spell initially misunderstood?

Every episode weaves new threads into this tapestry. Like a frog in slowly boiling water, we are steadily taken, from the grounded world of a house in a storm, to the ephemeral world of nightmares and missing dates, and kings under hills.

The moment you hit play you will be met with a stormy night, a ringing phone to a beating heart, an ominous drone, an answering machine. This audio anointment sets you on a path to minimalist sound design, inspired background music and a bond with the narrators both deep and strange.

The first batch of episodes brings you through all of the familiar feelings of haunted houses and dreams. The next batch takes you beyond our familiar veil, to a place of questions and trust. And once you make it to Episode 15: Killing the Moon? Raw, primal poetry in action and a love story unlike any you’ve heard in the past.

I love this show and it is my top recommendation for Halloween. Check out the series right here, and subscribe to stay up to date.

And if you’ve missed the previous entries in our Halloween Countdown, they start right here.


Chad Ellis is a Los Angeles based writer responsible for the Isolation Horror, Station Blue.

 

Check out the rest of the Podern Times team on our About Us page.

 

 

Halloween Countdown: The White Vault

Welcome to Outpost Fristed, a cold and chilling place where we continue our Halloween Countdown with The White Vault

Halloween Countdown: The White Vault

By Alex C. Telander

Out in the freezing wastes at the top of the world, on the island of Svalbard, is a place you’d never want to be… Welcome to Outpost Fristed, a cold and chilling place where we continue our Halloween Countdown with The White Vault.

The White Vault is a found footage-style horror show that is both brilliantly produced and genuinely entertaining.

Photo Credit: Press Kit

An intrepid team of strangers is brought together by the enigmatic Sidja Group, tasked with taking care of an “equipment malfunction.”

Four of the characters are not native English speakers, and begin their reports and recordings in their native language, before switching over to speaking English. This really helps to create a tremendous sense of realism and immersion in the show.

There is a large variety of different types of recordings, from dictaphone, to camera audio, to journals and scribbled notes, all collected together and presented by the Documentarian.

There’s also a great variety of constant sound effects, doing a fantastic job of immersing the listener in this icy environment. Coupled with strange unknown sounds, and the characters audibly becoming more and more scared as the show progresses, it all helps to draw in the listener further.

The team consists of Walter Heath, a technician who’s pretty handy with recording equipment; Graham Casner, a confident guy who knows his way around the wild; Dr. Rosa De La Torre; a medical doctor; Dr. Karina Schumacher-Weiß, a talented geologist; and finally Jónas Þórirsson, the person seemingly in charge, and who seems to knows the most about the Sidja Group.

The White Vault is a professional, very well produced audio drama, with a variety of evocative sound effects and talented voice actors, and is skillfully edited together. Each episode immediately sucks the listener in, as they’re waiting to find out what happens next. Some episodes end on a bit of a cliffhanger, some don’t, but either way the listener is left really wanting more from this show.

Photo Credit: Press Kit

Season one started October 2017, and all ten episodes are now available. The first episode of season two dropped October 2, 2018, making now the perfect time to check it out, which you can do right here.

Also check out our previous entries in our Halloween Countdown right here and here.


 

alex telander aviAlex C. Telander is the creator and writer of the Ostium Podcast.

 

Discover more about Alex and the rest of the team on our About Us page.

Halloween Countdown: Palimpsest

We continue our Halloween Countdown today with Palimpsest, “a bi-weekly audio drama about memory, identity, and the things that haunt us”

Halloween Countdown: Palimpsest

By Alex C. Telander

We continue our Halloween Countdown today with Palimpsest, “a bi-weekly audio drama about memory, identity, and the things that haunt us”.

“Every story is a ghost.”

“Embrace what haunts you.”

If ever there was a show that really lived up to its name, this is it. A genuinely layered show, the creators have filled every scene, every moment, with extremely well-produced audio. There’s a complexity in both writing and sound design that keeps the reader completely hooked in, wondering where the story is going next, and what scary or horrifying things are about to unfold.

Season One tells the story of Anneliese, and her struggles with the death of her sister Claire when she was younger.

Told through a series of audio recordings that Anneliese makes at the recommendation of her former therapist, each recording gives her more confidence to reveal her secrets. Secrets like how she can still see Claire sometimes.

Just standing next to her.

There are also strange happenings in her new apartment, odd people that live there. Or, people that maybe don’t live

The series is written by Jamieson Ridenhour, and performed by Hayley Heninger. Hayley does a simply masterful job of imbuing the character with life, and performing the lines with such emotion that the listener experiences them right alongside the character – be it sadness, anger, or fear.

The entire audio landscape is simple but effective, and the music helps to add to the spooky and unknown nature of the show.

Season Two launched September 4th and will run bi-weekly for ten episodes, so now is the perfect time to get on board this unique gem.

It’s set in the nineteenth century and it tells the story of Ellen, a new maid in service to a diminutive, unique, and beautiful looking woman who could best be described as… a fairy? Find it right here

And if you haven’t yet check out previous entries in our Halloween Countdown right here.


 

alex telander aviAlex C. Telander is the creator and writer of the Ostium Podcast.

 

Discover more about Alex and the rest of the team on our About Us page.