Ten years ago, over three hundred men, women and children disappeared.
September 25, 2015 6:20 PM   Subscribe

In a new podcast from APR, host Lia Haddock investigates the disappearance of over 300 men, women and children from the research community of Limetown, TN. What makes the Limetown tragedy unique, what makes it worth a continuing discussion, in spite of the collective moving on, is the complete lack of context. In the ten years since, no one group or individual has taken responsibility. No explanations have been uncovered or given with any credibility and, most tragically, no survivors have been found. posted by thsmchnekllsfascists (55 comments total) 77 users marked this as a favorite
Moar background.
posted by maudlin at 6:26 PM on September 25, 2015 [4 favorites]

Am I wrong to point out that this is fiction?
posted by Mr. Yuck at 6:36 PM on September 25, 2015 [136 favorites]

Mr. Yuck: I would say not.

I don't mind fictional stories on the blue, but I do want them clearly marked.
posted by el io at 6:38 PM on September 25, 2015 [154 favorites]

Am I wrong to point out that this is fiction?

No you absolutely are not.
posted by kafziel at 6:38 PM on September 25, 2015 [9 favorites]

No, you're not.

Needs a fiction tag.
posted by scruss at 6:39 PM on September 25, 2015 [10 favorites]

I love this show. The last 60 seconds of episode two may be the scariest thing I've ever heard that wasn't real.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:40 PM on September 25, 2015 [4 favorites]

did the halloween tag not give it away? all apologies.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 6:48 PM on September 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm intrigued, but with this sort of introduction I have to admit I'm sympathizing with the reaction some people must have had to Orson Wells' War of the Worlds.

I'd love to sneak this onto my dad's list of podcasts. NPR-styled programs are definitely one of the sorts of thing that would slip under his suspicion radar, and I have to admit the man has put a few pranks over on me over the years.
posted by figurant at 6:50 PM on September 25, 2015 [15 favorites]

Obviously it's UFOs.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:52 PM on September 25, 2015

You need more than tags to clarify fiction. I don't see them on mobile, anyways, so there should be some indication in the text.
posted by halifix at 6:54 PM on September 25, 2015 [24 favorites]

did the halloween tag not give it away? all apologies.

Ah sorry, some of the confusion might be because now that it's September we have moved on from thinking about Halloween and are now in Christmas mode (got my tree up).
posted by Nevin at 6:56 PM on September 25, 2015 [74 favorites]

i thought the narration was pretty spot on but yeah, obviously fiction because a real news story would tell you the point, without the clifhanger.
posted by rebent at 7:01 PM on September 25, 2015

I listened to this yesterday and loved it. They got the Serial vibe down pat.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:07 PM on September 25, 2015 [6 favorites]

Oh man, I'm really digging this. Possibly alone on a Friday evening is the wrong (very right?) time to listen to it.

(It also says right on the front page of its website that it's fictional.)
posted by dorque at 7:09 PM on September 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Needs a fiction gullible tag.
posted by adept256 at 7:11 PM on September 25, 2015 [10 favorites]

I know what I'll be running to later this week. Good find, thanks.
posted by Fizz at 7:14 PM on September 25, 2015

We've got some discussion up on Fanfare too!

And yeah, the end of episode two was pretty damn scary. Really digging the foley work on Limetown so far, it seems exceptionally well-produced for a podcast that's not affiliated with actual NPR.
posted by yasaman at 7:17 PM on September 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Mod note: n.b., if you want to discuss labeling-of-fiction as a MeFi policy matter, there's a MetaTalk post here that's better than this thread for that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:29 PM on September 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

Hello from over at Fanfare!

It's quite an enjoyable podcast so far, and has given me goosebumps more than once. We've got some theories cooking but the more the Mefi hivemind can work at it, the better!
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 7:30 PM on September 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

I really like this so far! When I first heard of the concept of Welcome to Night Vale, I imagined something like this, and I was SO disappointed - not a fan at all of WTNV.

It's weird though - it's got such polished production and editing, but every now and then something will leap out and take me out of the experience. Like the occasional voice actor who didn't get the memo and delivers a super hammy, theatrical reading. Or several bad accents. It's so close to my ideal podcast, I almost wish it was played even straighter.
posted by peep at 7:43 PM on September 25, 2015 [6 favorites]

The first episode suffers a bit from the number of people they had in it, I found episode two to be less hammy/inexplicable accent.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 7:47 PM on September 25, 2015

Ah sorry, some of the confusion might be because now that it's September we have moved on from thinking about Halloween and are now in Christmas mode (got my tree up).

Slacker. I'm painting Easter eggs over the weekend.
posted by scalefree at 8:22 PM on September 25, 2015 [11 favorites]

When I figured out what this is I was reminded of Eric Flint's 1632 series. This is like what would have happened back here if the events of that book had taken place. A whole, small, rural town gone. Where?
posted by irisclara at 8:24 PM on September 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

They want you to think that it's fiction. That's what they want.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:51 PM on September 25, 2015 [5 favorites]

I really wanted to like this show more, but there are a couple things that just kind of ruin it for me. First, the actors sound, well, like they're acting. The interviews don't sound real. They sound like competent actors reading from a script.

and the second thing - and I'm probably nitpicking here - is that there are moments that are supposed to take place in the world that are obviously someone in a studio talking over sound effects. I think the premise is cool and creative. But the execution sounds like a hammy radio play.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 9:08 PM on September 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

I will now happily state that if "War of the Worlds" existed in the same time span as the internet, it would have taken me four minutes and 32 seconds before I encountered a plausible, well-told story that scared me and prompted me to look a thing up.

I remain quite happy it's not real (or whatever, creepypasta people), because the real world scares me enough. Probably will still listen to the whole thing, though.
posted by lauranesson at 10:11 PM on September 25, 2015

How does the acting hang together against the recently discussed Black Tapes? I'm a podcaddict, so I'll probably give it a go, but I'd like somebody to tell me that it won't make me sad first.
posted by wotsac at 10:40 PM on September 25, 2015

posted by homunculus at 10:57 PM on September 25, 2015

Yes, fiction
posted by fallingbadgers at 11:26 PM on September 25, 2015

Ah sorry, some of the confusion might be because now that it's September we have moved on from thinking about Halloween and are now in Christmas mode (got my tree up).

Which ironically is the scariest thing I've heard this month.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:12 AM on September 26, 2015 [4 favorites]

I listened to episode one this morning and really enjoyed it. Acting is good, I like the format, and it delivers some decent chills. Thanks for this!
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:13 AM on September 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Needs a fictiongullible tag.

The site won't let you tag something as "gullible." pb has some issue with it.

Anyway, this is kind of similar to The Black Tapes podcast*, which I am enjoying more (but Limetown is only two episodes in, so I haven't had much chance to get invested in the story), so that's not a very firm rating. I hope both are a success because I am really enjoying the subgenre, although they both risk become the audio equivalent of "shaky cam found footage" horror films. I'm hoping that neither comes to a complete stop; the lack of an entirely satisfying conclusion in weird stories is one of the best sources of satisfaction.

* I'm kind of enjoying the recursion of feeling that APR is copying a podcast copying APR, although I assume that they were developed simultaneously, and I guess they both owe something to Nightvale anyway.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:10 AM on September 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

I want to start this, but theres only two episodes so far. Instead I'm listening the the black tapes. Waiting for episodes weekly is too difficult for me.
posted by Braeburn at 7:36 AM on September 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

I tried to listen to this but it just seemed so phoney. The news reports at the beginning were so badly acted that I just couldn't hang.
posted by tunewell at 8:13 AM on September 26, 2015

I'm kind of glad that my "radio drama ears" are not so finely tuned that I can enjoy things even if they are not perfectly produced. I kind of get the complaint -- about every three episodes of Lore i get the odd feeling that Aaron Mahnke has been replaced by someone who sounds like him but doesn't understand that the sounds he is making have meaning, and the cadence gets really odd. I find it very unsettling. However, I soldier on, and Mr. Mahnke seems to seze control back from the unearthly forces by the next podcast so no harm done, I suppose.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:01 AM on September 26, 2015 [5 favorites]

That's his secret twin brother, A-aron, who lets let out of the attic every few months to play.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:38 AM on September 26, 2015 [4 favorites]

So, if I like The Black Tapes, and I like Limetown, and I have a slightly love/meh relationship with Nightvale, is there anything else out there I might explore?
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:06 AM on September 26, 2015 [4 favorites]

Timely post, I listened to the first ep this morning. I really enjoyed the storytelling, although I too noticed the difference in cadence and tone between "interview" and "actor reading a script". It wasn't enough to ruin it for me, though, and I'm definitely intrigued, although I didn't find it especially spooky. On to the next episode!

Also, having grown in up in what was, for a long time, an actual (formerly) secret city in what was at the time of its founding very rural and still is fairly rural Tennessee, Limetown hits a delightful sense of plausible but slightly-skewed reality. If something had gone wrong with the Manhattan project early on, it's not completely impossible that Oak Ridge could have vanished for real. And we even have our own spooky prophecy.
posted by WidgetAlley at 10:18 AM on September 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

This thing could have been designed for me. I love creepy things and podcasts and fake documentaries! I just listened to the first episode, and I'm inordinately excited about it. I'm also a little worried, because I feel like it's a lot easier to come up with a creepy premise than to bring it to a satisfying resolution.

On to episode 2. My kitchen is going to be the cleanest kitchen ever by the time it's over.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:23 AM on September 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

I saw Limetown recced on the Green and discussed on the Purple, so I've listened to the first ep, and I like it. I don't expect particularly high production value out of podcasts -- maybe I've been listening to the wrong ones! -- so the varying quality of acting didn't bother me much. It's interesting and weird and cool, so if you like that kind of thing, Limetown is probably the kind of thing you'll like. I'll definitely be keeping up with it.

However, also on the Purple I saw people saying Limetown was a lot better than The Black Tapes, and I strongly disagree. I'm only two and a half eps into The Black Tapes, but I find it a lot creepier and the production values are a lot stronger. Maybe it's because The Black Tapes are more intimate -- it's personal creepiness of the "what is casting that shadow on the wall behind you?!" kind. Limetown is more of a detached "This big unexplainable thing happened a long time ago and now we will unpack it" kind of thing.

The Black Tapes is a much more of a creepy, supernatural sister to NPR's Serial than Limetown is, in my opinion. So if you like Limetown and Serial and haven't yet checked out TBT, you're missing out.

Like GenjiandProust, Welcome to Nightvale disappointed me by being completely not this sort of thing. It's another kind of thing entirely, a perfectly good thing - just, it turns out, not a thing made for the likes of me. I'd also be open to recs of other TBT & Limetown style creepy fictional podcasts.

Doing my part -- I've just started listening to the (completed) "We're Alive" zombie podcast, and it's pretty good so far. I just have some concerns about what they're going to do to keep my interest after the initial outbreak episodes. I'm much more a fan of running from zombies than I am of community-building drama.
posted by kythuen at 11:12 AM on September 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm looking forward to tucking in to Limetown and The Black Tapes soon. WTNV has fallen off my radar - episodes are still downloaded but then deleted unlistened to. I'm still glad it exists and am happy that it is leading the way for a new breed of podcast, but by the time I stopped listening, I sort of wanted it to just end already - I guess we have Serial to thank for that!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:25 AM on September 26, 2015

The creators of Welcome to Night Vale have been repeatedly kind of shitty on twitter about several new podcasts that are not Night Vale but maybe should try something more original than a fake radio format, which makes me feel a lot less kindly toward the creators of WTNV and also makes me think they should listen to a couple episodes of Serial, and also maybe just kind of NPR, before they decide they are so completely and uniquely being ripped off. It's a podcast, there's only so many premises to justify an audio production's existence that are internally consistent.

I first learned about The Black Tapes here on the blue and did not have my radio drama ears on and hated the clunky tone of the first several episodes, but got so sucked into the story that I put up with it until I and they got better. Last night I got all excited because I thought we had a new episode but my husband sadly said, "No, it's just a teaser," in the tone of someone who had been similarly fooled. It was my question on the green about similar shows that led me to Limetown, so my ears were ready.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:35 AM on September 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

Yeah, the WTNV creators have always been kind of Too Cool For School with a huge track record of slamming anything that's Not Their Idea and denying anything that they might have been influenced by, as if WTNV sprung fully formed from their tortured genius brows.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:50 AM on September 26, 2015

Ah, it was you who pulled the initial thread, Lyn Never... thanks for the question, you have made my commute a much happier thing!
posted by kythuen at 11:54 AM on September 26, 2015

and are now in Christmas mode (got my tree up).

Hahahah, I have Christmas trees up all year because I really really really got into collecting tiny colorful fake plastic trees for a lot of years and now there's no way they fit back into the closet. I decided "fuck it, they're all year round trees" now.

In other news, am listening to episode one right now and am finding it very interesting. More thoughts later?
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:21 PM on September 26, 2015

Having listened to a couple episodes of The Black Tapes now, I think that like Limetown, it has some stilted line readings and bad voice acting on occasion, but I'm enjoying them both. Maybe I'm grading on a curve, but I'm forgiving of some clunkiness in podcast productions like this, given that they're not exactly working with the resources of the likes of the BBC or Big Finish. Anyway, the investigating-creepy-shit genre of horror is my favorite horror genre, and I'm up for listening to more than one example of it.

It's really bugging me that the WtNV guys are being snooty about productions like Limetown and The Black Tapes. The three podcasts have very little in common aside from sharing a broad "creepy stuff" genre, and the general conceits they have to share by virtue of being audio productions. They should take it as a compliment that the success of their podcast is inspiring new creators, and new creators who are doing new stuff that's far from calculatedly aping WtNV at that.
posted by yasaman at 2:56 PM on September 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

I generally don't care at all for fictional podcasts, but I really loved the first two episodes of this. I listened to them walking my dog in a city in broad daylight, and even then I was thoroughly creeped out at times.

I guess I should check out The Black Tapes?
posted by rollbiz at 7:11 PM on September 27, 2015

Those three hundred men, women, and children?

Down the hole.
posted by 0rison at 7:19 PM on September 27, 2015

MISTAKES WERE MADE. I started listening to the Black Tapes Podcast in broad daylight, while cooking and doing assorted other errands, and then I had a bit of a drive tonight and thought I'd listen to a couple episodes as I drove. At night. Alone. During a SUPER BLOOD MOON ECLIPSE. I come to you with my newly earned wisdom: do not do the thing.

Also probably don't listen to Episode 2 of Limetown while in bed, else you wind up in Kinbote's position, which despite their admirable understatement, I feel must have syrely scared some years off of their life.
posted by yasaman at 10:38 PM on September 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

I listened to episode two of Limetown while out jogging this morning in the dark, which was fine until a woman tried to pass me and I caught a glimpse of her out of the corner of my eye. I did not scream, pass out, or attack her, which I'm feeling like is going to be my biggest accomplishment of the day.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:04 AM on September 28, 2015 [3 favorites]

I got most of the way through episode 1 on the way to work this morning, and the process of realizing it was fiction was kind of interesting. "How did I never hear about this event when it happened?" "this is kind of hard to believe. But it's an APM podcast, the setup sounds real." "They wouldn't just put out a fake investigative podcast without mentioning it would they?" "When I'm out of the car I'll have to read the description of the podcast more closely." "it was a town of *neuroscience* researchers who disappeared? This is sounding more and more like a creepypasta." "There was never a House Minority Leader named 'Pitney.'" There was enough over-the-top stuff after that to make it even more obvious it wasn't real. :(

It's pretty cool to have creepypasta in the form of an NPR podcast though.
posted by edheil at 5:50 AM on September 28, 2015

At least this post hipped me to the existence of FanFare, which I had somehow not known about all this time.
posted by larrybob at 11:00 AM on September 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Gave the first eps a listen on the drive home from vacation the other day. (Thank you Provincetown, you rule. Highly recommend people visit!) I absolutely am hugely drawn in so far, really love it. The Night Vale meets Serial vibe is right down my alley. Thanks for the link, thsmchnekllsfascists!
posted by Drinky Die at 12:00 PM on September 28, 2015

Also it sounds like The Black Tapes is something I should be checking out, thanks for mentioning it folks.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:38 PM on September 28, 2015

A quick apology.
posted by maudlin at 8:52 PM on September 28, 2015

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