Since You're Isolating: Weird Podcasts!
March 29, 2020 4:47 PM   Subscribe

As if life wasn’t weird enough, it’s time for another roundup of weird audio dramas! They may help you spend time while self-isolating or doing chores to take you away from the endless online meetings. Special feature for this installment: there are a ton of great weird podcasts coming out of Scotland these days (heralded by A Scottish Podcast), so I’ve marked them. As usual, I am focusing on paranormal ongoing stories as opposed to Science Fiction or Fantasy dramas or series of short stories, with or without framing elements, although there is obviously overlap.

I identify stories with LGBTQ characters and elements when possible. Podcasts with frequent or severe content warnings are noted when possible. All the podcasts are accessible on iTunes or via most podcast apps and aggregators (although, weirdly, some apps seem to not catch entire seasons of some of the shows).

The Amelia Project
Do you need to fake your own death quickly and completely? The Amelia Project can help for a very steep price. Scam artist, cult leader, scientist, or politician, they are there to solve your problems, usually in the most eccentric way possible. Unfortunately, there are powerful people who want to find the Amelia Project… This isn’t really paranormal, but it does have a ghoulish sense of humor.
Tone: eccentricity and humor
LGBTQ: none significant
Two seasons (24 episodes)

The Antique Shop
Part of the Scots weird podcast surge. Maya, a college student in desperate need of a job, finds work in an antique shop. Between the weird old woman who owns the place, the smug cat who lives there, and the eccentric and sinister customers, Maya is increasingly perplexed and worried. A one-woman show by the creator of The McIlwraith Statements.
Tone: Weird
LGBTQ: none significant
One season (7 episodes)
Website Transcripts probably coming

Five years ago, three high school students decided to make a podcast about the Blackwood Bugman, their local cryptid/boogeyman. They discover way too many deaths and disappearances for their comfort, and certain people don’t want them digging up the past. Now, years later, their lost episodes can be released.
Tone: Eerie and conspiracy
LGBTQ: none significant
Complete story in one season (6 episodes)

Boston Harbor Horror
Coast Guard Petty Officer Alex Devereaux responds to an emergency call on a small island in Boston Harbor. It leads him to a centuries-old cult, a well-funded conspiracy, and plot to do something unspeakable. Can the Coast Guard stop the madness? Several episodes have gun violence and mental health warnings.
Tone: Law enforcement and Cthulhu
LGBTQ: A major gay character (who is a celibate widower)
Beginning its second season (15 episodes). There is a single file of the first season

The Box
Addison Gilmore finds an old box filled with journals that are either fiction or the field notes of a mysterious organization fighting the paranormal, her life is turned upside down. She eventually has to go on the run, as the mysteries become deeper and more complicated than she ever imagined. Who is lying to to her? Who wants to use her? Can she escape? Mostly a one-woman production.
Tone: First X-Files, then X-Men
LGBTQ: none significant
Three seasons? (41 episodes) Ongoing

Caledonian Gothic
Part of the Scots weird podcast surge. Eight children are found in an abandoned lodge. High gristly rituals have been performed. A bit like The Magnus Archives, but shorter, and with a nastier tone. Almost breaks my “unconnected stories with a framing device” rule. For the TTRPG players, it has an Unknown Armies vibe. Content warnings not given, but significant child harm.
Tone: Visceral and nasty
LGBTQ: none significant
Complete story in one season? (9 episodes)

Calling Darkness

Six women on an exclusive acting retreat accidentally summon a demon and must act together, despite being totally incompatible, to escape before they are dragged into the Pit. Written by women with an almost all-women cast.
Tone: Bloody humor and gristly horror
LGBTQ: soem undertones
One season (10 episodes)

Samir, an aimless twenty-something, with a crush on his best friend, falls off a cliff in the middle of a storm and finds himself in a canyon that is part of Hell. He’s soon embroiled in a struggle against demons as part of a Caravan — part bounty hunters and part peacekeepers — with danger and betray on every side as they try to get allies from the disparate and disorganized paranormal creatures who make the canyon home. This is a very queer podcast with a mostly queer and multiethnic cast. No real content warnings, but there is some “frank sexual matter.”
Tone: Weird adventure, comedy, and queer romance
LGBTQ: Lots of queer characters, mostly gay
One season (10 episodes). Ongoing.
Website Transcripts available

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
/The Whisperer in Darkness
This is two linked, very free adaptions of Lovecraft stories reset in the modern day, and, in the second, transposed to the UK. Kennedy Fisher and Matthew Heawood are "The Mystery Machine,” an investigative journalism podcast where Fisher does the legwork and Heawood does research and edits the shows. This investigation uncovers something truly disturbing which keeps snowballing. Starts with Lovecraft, adds a lot of its own ideas, and gets back to cosmic horror. A BBC4 production, available on their site as well.
Tone: Eerie conspiracy and Cthulhu
LGBTQ: none significant
Two seasons (20 episodes) with a third (and final?) promised
Website CDW
Website WiD

Diana’s Monster

On the night Diana Edith Harris was born in 1970, a monster crawled through the streets of Evanston, TX. On the night she disappeared in a fire, in 1993, Martin Cruise was born in the same town with no record of his parents. In 2016, Martin travels to Evanston to find some answers. What he finds is unsavory secrets, a cult, stories of lost gods, and shadowy organizations.
Tone: Weird investigation
LGBTQ: Gay protagonist
Three seasons (29 episodes)

Dane, a musician housesitting in Cleveland and working a dead-end job at the Pepper Heights Zoo spends too much time on Grindr. Then he spots a hot guy in the abandoned house next door, starts getting stalked by menacing girl scouts, and the semi-beloved Zoe the Zebra, mascot of the zoo, is charged with murder. Then things get strange. No content warning, but there is explicit sexual content. Sadly, the show seems defunct.
Tone: Weird investigation and gay… romance? Hook-ups? We may never know…
LGBTQ: Gay protagonist
One season (8 episodes) not ongoing.

Father Dagon
Adapted from a stage play, this podcast approaches Lovecraftian settings and themes through mosaic of characters circling Innsmouth and the Esoteric Order of Dagon. Very atmospheric, although it never really concludes, just stops. Each episode contains the complete soundtrack without the dialogue at the end.
Tone: Eerie, plus humanizing mental illness
LGBTQ: A major trans character
Two seasons (14 episodes) not ongoing.

Glasgow Ghost Stories
Part of the Scots weird podcast surge. This series of short episodes features a sensible young woman discovering that she can see ghosts, some of whom are very dangerous and some… less so. She finds herself caught up in the needs of the dead in adventures terrifying, mysterious, and sometimes heartwarming. Can she convince the ghosts to listen to her before disaster is unavoidable? A one-woman project.
Tone: Spooky mystery
LGBTQ: none significant
Complete story in one season (31 episodes)
Website Transcripts available

Dimitri and Rebecca have been friends since they were children. Then, on an afternoon between the end of college and the start of their lives, Dimitri disappears during an outing to a lake. Rebecca is under suspicion. Solving the mystery requires digging into the past of both families, difficult decisions made by Dimitri’s mother and Rebecca’s parents, and the legacy of a mysterious corporation
Tone: Conspiracy
LGBTQ: none significant
Complete story in two seasons (17 episodes plus bonus material)
Website Transcripts available

London Necropolis Railway
Barney is a ghoul whose job is to make sure the recently departed get on the right train to the Afterlife. He is bored in what is literally a dead-end job, but then Agnes refuses to get on her train because she knows she was murdered. A murder that points right at the management of the London Necropolis Railway!
Tone: Political thriller, plus ghosts and demons
LGBTQ: none significant
Complete story in one season (7 episodes)

Lost Cat

The narrator lives in a surreal, mid-Apocalypse city, drinks a lot of wine with his friends and likes his cat OK. But his cat has disappeared, so he goes looking for it and finds even more weirdness than he expected. Eventually, things get really out of hand. Reminds me a bit of China Miéville’s Bas Lag, but without the politics. Each episode has a song by the creator in the middle.
Tone: Surreal adventure
LGBTQ: A none significant
Five seasons (~50 episodes, including bonus material)

The McIlwraith Statements

15 years ago, Sarah McIlwraith was a doctoral student with a job doing data entry on Dr Robin Strothers’ IPP project, an effort to prove the existence of ghosts and other psychic phenomena. It had ended with Strothers’ disgrace over accusations of data tampering and shady funding. Sarah had managed to escape, but now, after Strothers’ death, she is driven out of guilt to reexamine the project. You see, the whole time she was working on the IPP project, she hid the fact that she could see ghosts. And now she wants to lay to rest the ghosts of her own past. A one-woman project.
Tone: Spooky and academic
LGBTQ: none significant
Complete story in two seasons (25 episodes)
Website Transcripts available

Marigold’s Ghosts
Marigold has a job as the caretaker of Carnival Home, a dilapidated mansion on the edge of town. Which is, of course, haunted. Marigold has her hands full with ghosts and cursed objects. From the people who brought you Tunnels.
Tone: Spooky with some comedy
LGBTQ: none significant
One season (4 episodes) ongoing?

Middle: Below
Taylor is saddled with sorting out the problems of the dead to keep the Middle (our world) and the Below (the land of the dead) separate. Mostly, this is easy, since living and dead like the way things are. When something goes wrong, however, Taylor is going to need all his wits, plus the help of Gil (a ghost), Sans (a cat), and Heather (a nosey bystander) to sort them out.
Tone: Horror-comedy
LGBTQ: none significant
Complete story in one season (10 episodes)
Website Transcripts available

Old Gods of Appalachia

In the oldest mountains in the world, something evil was buried in the forgotten past, people settled the hills and mountains, and that evil marked them. Then the mining companies came to dig up the coal, and they dug up other things that should have stayed buried. Season one is a web of stories that converge into a single narrative through multiple viewpoints.
Tone: Eldritch Appalachia
LGBTQ: none significant
One season (10 episodes) ongoing

The Tower
Kiri is sick of her life, so she decides to climb The Tower, a huge relic of a long-ago king’s hubris. It stretches into the sky, and no one who goes up has ever come down. As Kiri starts up the many stairs, she finds a series of phones that let her call the people she has left behind. Possible content warning — it seems like a metaphor of depression and self harm. I might feel differently if there is a second season. By the people who made Middle: Below.
Tone: Eerie, plus humanizing mental illness
LGBTQ: none significant
One season (7 episodes) ongoing?

An unnamed narrator in an unnamed land after an unnamed war is sent out to reactivate a train station on a line running towards the frontier. But the war was… odd, and monsters are abroad, even if no one will talk about them. Can she figure out what is going on before the history no one will discuss kills everyone? A one-woman production by the Glasgow Ghost Stories creator.
Tone: Weird, dreamlike and physical by turns
LGBTQ: none significant
Complete story in one season (6 episodes)

Unwell, A Midwestern Gothic Mystery
Lillian Harper moves back to Mt. Absalom to look after her mother, who runs a boarding house. Lillian discovers mysteries, ghosts, conspiracies, and stranger things. Mt. Absalom is full of quirky people with dark hearts. Some racial and ability diversity. Content warnings are given.
Tone: Quirky small town terror-comedy
LGBTQ: Major nonbinary and lesbian characters, minor gay characters
Two Seasons (18 episodes) ongoing
Website Transcripts available

The Van
Cola is the oldest kid in a “family” run by the vicious and occasionally kind Nova-Scotia who travel around the southwest in a decrepit van doing low level crime with the benefit of their special powers. Like low-rent criminal X-Men, they spread and experience misery daily. Content warning: emotional abuse towards children.
Tone: Eerie, plus humanizing mental illness
LGBTQ: none significant
One season (8 episodes)
Website Some transcripts available

Video Palace
Mark Cambria gets his hands on one of the fabled White Tapes, VHS tapes that are highly sought after but also feared by collectors. As he purses the mystery, he and his girlfriend Tamra find more and more disquieting elements. Then Mark begins talking in his sleep in the weird language from the tape. As they pursue the tapes and a legendary video store with increasing obsession, they find conspiracy, occult, and madness.
Tone: Growing dread
LGBTQ: A minor lesbian couple
Complete story in one season (10 episodes)

A Voice from Darkness
Dr. Malcolm Ryder, a sketchy parapsychologist, helps callers with their problems and tells stories boy haunted America on a late night radio show. As the series goes on, Ryder’s motives become increasingly questionable. He may be your best hope, but that doesn’t’t mean he’s a good choice.
Tone: Weird phenomena with mild comedy
LGBTQ: none significant
One season (7 episodes) ongoing
Website Transcripts available

Weeping Cedars
Lee and Riley report on the perplexing and unsettling history of the small New York town of Weeping Cedars, a town with an odd history and a web of groups who want to obfuscate various aspects of that history. Episodes alternate between documentary and radio broadcast discussing current events, building the story slowly from multiple directions.
Tone: Weird history and conspiracy
LGBTQ: A significant non-binary character (not much is made of it)
One season (19 episodes) ongoing
posted by GenjiandProust (13 comments total) 70 users marked this as a favorite
To keep self-linking down, here’s my lists from 2018 and 2017.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:48 PM on March 29, 2020 [3 favorites]

I enjoyed Blackwood but have since fallen off the weird narrative podcast train likely due to needing to be able to mentally check out of the voice sounds in my ears while I do art and still nursing TANIS burns. I think I need finite stories at this point, but still look forward to diving into a few of these in the endless, grey weeks ahead. Thanks!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:07 PM on March 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

What a list! I think I might like The Amelia Project.
posted by batter_my_heart at 5:55 PM on March 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

Oh, this list is great. I'm going to forward the Boston Harbor Horror one to coworkers, for reasons.
posted by suelac at 5:56 PM on March 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

Old Gods of Appalachia is fantastic. Highly recommend.
posted by KingEdRa at 6:15 PM on March 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

This is wondrous. Thank you.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 6:31 PM on March 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

These look amazing, thank you so much!
posted by Braeburn at 10:49 PM on March 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

This is great, thank you!
posted by aesop at 3:00 AM on March 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

I have no issues with any of these, and I will particularly highlight The Amelia Project, which pulled off the episodic-to-story-arc transition (which has been the downfall of a lot of horror/suspense/weird audio drama podcasts *coughblacktapescough*) absolutely perfectly, and they did it in like five seconds.
posted by Etrigan at 7:00 AM on March 30, 2020 [2 favorites]

So excited for some of these as I unpack my apartment!
posted by bile and syntax at 7:35 AM on March 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

Old Gods of Appalachia is fantastic. Highly recommend.

Seconded. I'm listening to the first season now, and it is incredible.
posted by MrBadExample at 1:54 PM on March 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm really impressed by the quality of podcasts coming out of Scotland these days, especially Glasgow Ghost Stories/tracks and The McIlwraith Statements/The Antiques Shop. Both seem very similar -- a single woman narrating a slightly rambling story with minimal extra voices, sound effects, or music -- but they take it in different ways that are exciting. Don't get me wrong; I like hugely sound-produced podcasts like Archive 81, but there is something spare and simple and refreshing about the relatively minimalist takes that is very very satisfying.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:03 PM on March 30, 2020

Strongly endorse the Lovecraft podcast mentioned above. They're clever, eerie and very well done.

Also, if you're interested in Britain's real Necropolis Railway, there's this.
posted by Paul Slade at 2:37 PM on April 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

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