These days, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we’re all dwelling house a lot more often — and nosotros’re finding ways to work, connect and entertain ourselves, largely with the help of screens. Whether you’re hopping onto a Zoom happy hour with friends, queueing upwardly another serial on Netflix or diving into an Instagram curlicue, you’re probably looking at screens way more often than you would if y’all could become out and explore.
Sure, wearing blue light-filtering glasses, using eye drops and making adjustments to your monitor settings and lighting are all not bad moves, but nothing does the trick for eye strain and headaches more than taking a screen break. Don’t know how you’ll entertain yourself without a TV? We’ve got you covered — in fact, nosotros’ve delved into quite a few incredible audio drama podcasts that are just as arresting and immersive as whatsoever TV prove or moving-picture show.
For those who are new to audio dramas, these aren’t your average comedian-with-a-podcast shows. Thanks to incredible voice talent, impeccable sound design and production, and stellar writing, these pods create visceral worlds and memorable characters — and evangelize them directly to your headphones. From the surreal or comedic to your next sci-fi or crime thriller obsession, these fiction sound dramas are some of our favorites.
Borrasca | QCode Media
Written past Rebecca Klingel, this horror podcast from QCode started as a multi-part short story that Klingel (a.thou.a. CK Walker) posted on Reddit’southward r/nosleep community, where it won the subreddit’due south award for Scariest Story in 2015. For those who don’t know, every story posted on r/nosleep is considered true, even if it’s fictional, and then if you comment on said story, the subreddit’due south gimmick is that y’all play along and stay in character. All of this has led to the rise of a kind of net-based urban-legend-meets-bivouac-horror-story genre. And, allow’south just say, it works amazingly well in podcast course.
Relatively new to the scene, QCode’s narrative dramas are often produced, in function, past a large-name star, and Borrasca is no exception. Here,
Riverdale‘s Cole Sprouse plays Sam Walker, a human who, after years of personal struggle and keeping things pent up, tells his parole officer, Leah Dixon (Lisa Edelstein), about a disturbing serial of events that occurred in his childhood after his family moved to the pocket-size town of Drisking, Missouri. Each episode begins and ends with a session between Sam and Leah, but, sandwiched in between, are flashbacks that highlight key moments in Sam’s past.
In the first episode, a young Sam befriends two other Drisking kids, Kyle (Daniel Webber) and Kimber (Sarah Yarkin). While on a wheel ride, a horrifying sound known every bit the “Borrasca Scream” tears through the forest; Kyle and Kimber explain that no one knows the origins of the scream — it’s but something that happens — and, in its aftermath, the older teens in boondocks throw a Borrasca party at a creepy treehouse in the forest. Not unlike the
Twin Peaks-like mysteries
draws its inspiration from, teen girls are going missing, often subsequently these parties, and Sam finds his world upended when his ain sister, Whitney (Peyton Kennedy), vanishes one twenty-four hours.
Although his parents choose to believe that Whitney merely ran away, Sam is convinced that something more nefarious is going on. Every bit a high schooler, he tries to understand what, exactly, is happening in Drisking — and how it connects to Borrasca, this identify of legend. This i is dark, disturbing and and so all-consuming. With simply ix episodes, yous’ll devour the first season of this show in no time. Definitely mind with headphones: The sound design is unparalleled and but adds to the immersive atmosphere.
If you’re a fan of space operas, Wolf 359 is for you — and, with over 6 one thousand thousand downloads to date, more than a few listeners can vouch for the excellence of this podcast. Co-produced past creator Gabriel Urbina and star Zach Valenti,
is a radio drama that draws from Gold Historic period of Radio shows and mixes that tradition with a sci-fi element.
The evidence takes its name from a star, which the
space station — and its rather dysfunctional crew — orbits while on a deep-space survey mission. On the daily, the crew faces life-or-expiry situations, all in the proper name of searching for signs of conflicting life. At beginning the show feels comedic and lighthearted, with a focus on building out its characters, only, bit by flake, the coiffure discovers that “in that location might exist more than to their mission than they thought,” taking things in a more sci-fi thriller direction. Although it is an ensemble prove, the story initially centers on Doug Eiffel (Valenti), who, while scanning for signs of conflicting life, finds recordings of classical music — and the recordings are also old to have come from World. When the coiffure reaches out to their funders, Goddard Futuristics, information technology becomes clear that there’southward something nefarious afoot.
After 61 episodes, the 18-time Sound Poesy Accolade-winning show came to an terminate a few years ago, meaning information technology’due south all bachelor if you desire to queue up a podcast marathon. And y’all’ll desire to listen all at once — the unraveling of the larger story is completely gripping, and the ensemble cast of characters becomes so very important to you lot. All of this to say, exercise yourself a favor and “tune into your domicile away from domicile…7 and a half low-cal years away from Earth.”
Alice Isn’t Expressionless | Dark Vale Presents
If you’re familiar with any audio drama podcast, it’s probably Welcome to Dark Vale, a strange, absurdist podcast about the odd desert town of Night Vale, which has also fabricated waves on Twitter and spawned several books. Just Night Vale Presents, helmed by creators Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, is the source backside quite a few other purlieus-pushing, popular podcasts, from Dreamboy to Alice Isn’t Dead — the one nosotros recommend above all the others in Night Vale’due south catalogue. Created and written by Fink, the show tells the story of Keisha (Jasika Nicole), a woman who believes her wife, Alice, disappeared — that is, until she spots Alice on the news.
Eager to reunite with Alice, Keisha becomes a truck driver for the enigmatic Bay and Creek company. The job allows her to travel across the state, which is great for her search, just, look, things take consistently strange and dark turns. There’s the kind of unsettling, empty Americana vibe; Keisha’southward rising anxiety; a surreal series of stops and deliveries; and, in a higher place all else, the fact that the roads seem to be haunted by a not-quite-human serial killer known only equally the Thistleman. Somehow, all of these things — the Thistleman, Bay and Creek, Alice — are connected, and Keisha is adamant to unravel the conspiracy at hand.
There’southward a lot to dearest here. Again, if you’re a fan of the strange (i.eastward. anything directed past David Lynch), you’re looking for a compelling depiction of mental health and anxiety or you love a skilful scare,
Alice Isn’t Dead
is for you. The story is narrated past Keisha, who speaks into her truck’s hand radio, which means, much like an audiobook, Nicole has to do a lot of heavy lifting. Without a incertitude, she more than pulls information technology off — Keisha is such a brilliant grapheme, i whom you won’t want to leave your life after the podcast’s 3 incredible seasons.
Caravan | The Whisperforge
The Whisperforge is the collective backside some of the best narrative podcasts out at that place, including their flagship sound drama
(more on that afterwards!). Without a doubt, one of the collective’s nigh enthralling works is Caravan. Created by author, director, producer and voice actor Tau Zaman, the show is a “weird-westward audio drama about getting through hell with people you dear.”
debuted, it won 6 Audio Poetry Awards, including Best New Audio Play Production. It tells the story of Samir (Sushant Adlakha), who falls into a canyon while camping. And this canyon? Information technology’s, well, uncanny — to say the to the lowest degree. It’s as well the fashion into a world populated past demons and banshees and cowboys and the echoes of people. In blending westerns with the supernatural, the world of
is unlike anything else you’ve experienced. According to the podcast’s Twitter, the official recipe for the show is: “½ cup
Red Dead Redemption 2, 1 loving cup
True Blood, 1 loving cup
Torchwood, 2 heaping tablespoons of
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, ane
soundtrack guitar and i
railroad vehicle” — oh, and add “gay [social justice warrior] s— to taste.”
Why do nosotros love it? A) the incredible earth-building, and B) how deeply intimate and personal everything feels. In an interview with Wil Williams, Zaman noted that the podcast pulls from their ain experiences, be it Samir’southward code-switching, or the character’s navigation of clinical low. Before Samir falls into the strange canyon, our protagonist says, “I’k always going to be a lilliputian fleck sad most things fifty-fifty when I’g happy for you. When I say things it’south like talking through a screen.” Zaman noted that this dialogue was lifted from their ain life, and while having others act out one’due south own “vulnerabilities and anxieties” might seem a lilliputian terrifying at showtime, it’s that same vocalisation-driven vulnerability that lends to
Caravan‘southward luminescence. Bonus: If you lot dearest audiobooks, this podcast has that vibe — and a ton of lovely imagery to kicking.
The Left Correct Game | QCode Media
We’re putting another QCode podcast on our list because nosotros simply can’t resist. Likewise, it’s not our error that the media collective has recently released a scattering of incredible audio dramas, from the Cynthia Erivo-helmed Carrier, which tells the dark and twisting story of a truck driver toting unusual cargo, to Dingy Diana, which stars Demi Moore every bit a woman who runs an erotic website where people reveal their sexual fantasies. But today nosotros’re here to talk most The Left Right Game, which was written past Jack Anderson, produced past its star Tessa Thompson and, like
Borrasca, based off of a story postal service on Reddit’s r/nosleep.
The podcast centers on two different, but interrelated, stories. In one thread, a man named Tom (Aml Ameen) is searching for a announcer named Alice Sharman (Thompson); no ane seems to believe that she exists — and Tom is the only one who seems to remember her. In fact, when he plays Alice’s audio tapes, everyone else, from Tom’s therapist to his mom, hears nothing. Creepy, correct? Meanwhile, seemingly a little while before the get-go of Tom’s story, Alice heads to the U.South. to investigate a strange phenomenon called
The Left Right Game. The game, which simply involves going for a bulldoze and taking a left plough and then a correct turn and then a left and then on, takes a paranormal turn. In that location’southward something unsettling nigh information technology all — some folks believe the game tin can atomic number 82 to some other reality. So, similar any good announcer, Alice joins a convoy of paranormal investigators led past a human being named Rob (W. Earl Brown) to investigate.
Look, nosotros don’t want to say too much more. It’s all-time to just experience all the twists and turns (pun intended) for yourself. The first season has just x episodes, so it’south easy to listen to the whole story in a day. Every bit with
Borrasca, nosotros recommend listening with headphones, since
The Left Right Game
uses the technique of audio panning to create an incredibly immersive environs sound experience.
To exist honest, we wish we had the room to spotlight twice as many audio drama podcasts. In that location are just and so many worth listening to, and they bridge some of our favorite genres. Here are merely a few more — and 1 actually well-made audiobook
Subscribe to these ASAP:
| Two-Up Productions:
Lia Haddock (Annie Sage Whitehurst), a public radio reporter, investigates what happened to the 300 people who disappeared from a research facility in small-town Limetown, Tennessee, a decade ago. Fans of
will love this 1.
| The Whisperforge:
In the collective’s flagship podcast, an experiment goes awry, leaving Dr. Sally Grissom (Kristen DiMercurio) stranded in the by. This journey through space-time — and the Cold War — is a captivating “dear letter of the alphabet to physics.”
Within the Wires
| Night Vale Presents:
This one is self-described as “an immersive fiction podcast using constitute sound from an alternate universe.” That is, it’s bold and unafraid to play with the form. For example, season 1’s benign-to-securely-personal story is told over the course of relaxation cassettes created by the nebulous “Institute,” whereas flavor two uses a museum sound tour to unravel the disappearance of a famed creative person.
The Far Meridian
| The Whisperforge:
Infused with magical realism, this sound drama tells the story of Peri (creator Eli Barraza), a woman who lives in a lighthouse. 1 morning, the lighthouse is…somewhere different, leading Peri to wander mysterious vistas while confronting her fears and searching for her missing blood brother.
I Killed Zoe Spanos
past Kit Frick:
This YA thriller, which is prepare over the class of a summer in the Hamptons, is told from several points of view and via a true law-breaking podcast spearheaded past one of the characters. All of this means that, unlike your traditional audiobook, this one features an ensemble bandage, making information technology feel like the perfect blend between book and audio drama. Check out the audiobook today!