Riveting stories are one of the oldest of humanity’s traditions, so it isn’t a surprise that we have incorporated this tradition into the digital age. If you are looking for a great story-driven podcast, then you have come to the right place. We’ve have been binge-listening to podcasts for the last seven and picked the best podcasts for you. Get ready for the best stories on the internet!
If you are looking for something a little different, check out the Night Vale podcast. Rather than following the exploits of one protagonist, the story of Night Vale is told through public service announcements. The host of the show, Cecil, reports of the bizarre happenings with a total acceptance that only a citizen of this bizarre world could manage. The happenings are akin to that of Alice in Wonderland, and the quirky situations and people involved remain consistent throughout its 140+ episodes. Night Vale is a long-running series and officially the most popular podcast in the United States.
H.P. Lovecraft is a frequent reference when YouTubers and reviewers bring up this show. It’s true that both talk about indescribable horrors of beings and powers beyond the limited faculties of the human mind. However, there is one defining difference in their presentations. Lovecraft focused upon the terror and hopelessness of existing as an insignificant human in an incomprehensible and uncaring universe. Night Vale shows a population of humans that appear perfectly content to live within that reality. It creates a unique and dark sense of humor that exists on the borders of the absurd.
If you enjoy this series, you may want to check out the Night Vale novels. They are just as highly rated as the show itself, and they also are written by the show's creators.
Many have heard of the Paranormal Challenge offered by the supernatural critic, James Randi. For decades, one million dollars was continually offered to whoever could successfully provide irrefutable proof of the supernatural. The offer is now defunct, and the prize was never awarded. The creators of Black Tapes, inspired by this story, have created a fascinating but fake documentary.
Alex Reagon, a co-protagonist, is a reporter that recounts her experience in a style that is similar to that of an NPR broadcast. In the initial episode, she is recording a career piece on ghost hunters. Multiple times, these ghost hunters mention the sore spot of there industry, Dr. Richard Strand. Dr. Strand has made a career of disproving the supernatural and offering the same million dollar prize of his real-life counterpart. All the events that are sufficiently disproven are cataloged in white VHS cases. When an event is difficult to disprove, it is assigned one of the black VHS cases. By the end of the two-part episode, Dr. Strand and Alex are working through the black tapes together.
This is a fascinating show that has quickly consumed my attention. The cases are interesting and bordering on believable. The voice acting above average, and I am genuinely excited to see where all of this goes. The Mulder and Scully relationship of this pair is familiar but different enough to feel unique.
If you like The Black Tapes, you may also want to check out a spin-off to the series called Limetown. The same people are involved in its creation, and it follows the same reporter down another equally fascinating rabbit hole.
Tell me if you have heard this one; a man, a wizard, and a changeling walk into a tavern. Hello From the Magic Tavern is an improvisational comedy set in a fantastical world called Foon. Arnie Niekamp is the main protagonist that unwillingly stumbled through a portal located at a Burger King back on Earth. Now stuck, his only communication with Earth is maintained via a weak Wi-Fi signal that is transmitting through that same portal. Thankfully, Arnie was carrying his podcasting equipment and now spends his time interviewing the strange and marvelous sentient creatures that inhabit the strange land.
This podcast commonly strolls into adult topics, so only mature audiences should give it a listen. The quick-witted cast will keep you laughing and amazed at the impressive flow of dialogue that never stops. Each episode, generally speaking, welcomes a new voice that guest stars for the night: a foul-mouthed talking flower, goblins, a eunuch, or an overworked fairy. Other times, Arnie will take part in one of the many colorful and seemingly insane traditions of this fairytale kingdom. It is as unpredictable as it is hilarious, and I’ve personally listened to over 70 episodes so far. It is a fun podcast for road trips, and it will not disappoint.
In school, history was never my favorite subject. In fact, I kind of despised it. The endless list of dates could never hold my interest, so the information never stuck for long. If Dan Carlin were my history teacher, it would have been my favorite subject. His passion saturates every moment, and this historical story podcast becomes more than a list of uninteresting facts. Carlin delves deeply into the events, the people and their mindsets, and all of the pertinent data that shaped them.
The discussed pieces of history are typically split into multiple parts, and those parts are multiple hours long. Carlin successfully holds the audience's attention and maintains an impressive level of energy that runs through the whole presentation.
Throughout the series, Dan Carlin will frequently remind you that he his not a historian. Keep that in mind as he presents his thoughts on historical moments that are open to interpretation. Sometimes, the line between reality and his estimation of what may have happened can blur a bit. He may be right about those moments, and he may be wrong. You will want a more dependable source of information if you ever decide to write a paper based on those episodes.
If romance is your thing, you’ll want to check out Read Me Romance. These saucy standalone stories are not dramatized, but they are consistently high-quality readings. The two primary hosts are authors of multiple romance novels and provide candid moments of conversation and discussion upon their favorite genre.
The release schedule of this podcast is very consistent, and the output is rather impressive. Each story is split into 5 parts, and each of those parts is released on a weekday. The first installment of a story is released on Monday and the conclusion, as you might expect, is published on Friday.
This podcast hasn’t been out for long, but it is gaining traction fast. If the impressive output is maintained, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this podcast dominate the romance category within the year.
Dirty John is focused upon the real-life criminal exploits of John Meehan, and it is hosted by the L.A. Times journalist, Christopher Goffard.
Debra Newell is a single mom with an older daughter and a successful career. She desired a stable relationship with a man which led her to dating through one of the popular internet dating websites. That is where she came across John Meehan. His dating profile and picture were an enticing snare that was too difficult to resist. In person, his charming demeanor was equally attractive. It wasn’t long after that, about two months, that John and Debra were married. That is when the story takes a darker turn that quickly spiraled into one of the most well-known cases of crime, domestic violence, and murder in recent history.
In 2018, Dirty John was remade into a TV series by Bravo TV, and that series is still active today. Eric Bana and Connie Britton play the respective roles of John Meehan and Debra Newell.
With over 250 million downloads, Serial is the most popular storytelling podcast in the world right now. If that isn’t a qualified recommendation, I don’t know what is. It isn’t a single story arc like most podcasts. Instead, each season has a separate focus. Serial is a still a developing series, so the release schedule of its episodes are not as consistent as a regular week-to-week fictional podcast.
In season one, investigative journalist, Sarah Koenig, looks into a closed murder of a high school student, Hae Min Lee. She died by strangulation, and her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was convicted of her death. As Koenig looks more deeply into the case, it becomes clear that there is still much more investigating that needs to be done.
Season two tells the story of Boww Berhahi; a soldier that left his post and was captured and eventually released by the Taliban. It is also investigative, but primarily conversational. It gives a voice to Berhahi who has quite the story to tell.
Season three changes up the format a bit. Instead of following a single case throughout the season, each episode is devoted to its own case. This season is intended to be a broader examination of the criminal justice system. Overall, it is a fascinating series, and definitely one of the best podcasts that I have found.
Lore is an award-winning and established podcast that has quickly garnered a strong following. It has over a 100 episodes that all focus upon historical folklore. Episode one focuses upon the origins of the vampire. Episode eight discusses the terrifying case of the serial killer, H.H. Holmes. Do you like ghost stories? It delves into it all, both the facts and the fiction.
There is a new episode every week, and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down. If you like the murkier aspects of history, where the physical world and the supernatural coincide, check out Lore.
Like some other podcasts in this list, TV adaptations have been made. Keep that in mind if you like this series.
If you were a fan of X-Files, then you might want to check out Archive 81. The story begins with Dan Powell’s first day as an archivist for the Housing Historical Committee. What once seemed like a mundane job quickly escalates as Dan pours through the audible records of Archive 81.
These records were created by Melody Pendras who had worked for the Committee to record the history of an apartment building. The tenants of that building are strange with hints of supernatural undertones. The episodes tease you with the truth and pull you along with the promise of answers.
*Small Spoiler Alert*
When the first episode comes to an end, Dan’s friend, Mark speaks to the listener. Dan has mysteriously disappeared, and the recordings that you hear are the files sent to Mark at the time of Dan’s disappearance.
The Walk is an audio drama told from the first-person point of view. You are the hero of the story. Some might be tempted to see this as a simple gimmick, a story podcast with an insignificant twist, but that would be a mistake. The podcast is highly addictive to those that enjoy this type of entertainment. Fans of the Choose Your Own Adventure novels will find a home here.
The story begins with a case of mistaken identity. You, the protagonist, were spending the day in Scotland when a mysterious woman approaches your table. It becomes quickly apparent that she believes that you are a government agent and entrusts you with an unknown device. However, before explanations are made, a terrorist EMP attack shuts down the electrical grid, and the device is locked to your biological fingerprint. You must now make your way to Edinburgh to deliver the device into government hands to hopefully prevent humanity's demise. Good luck!
I hope that you enjoyed my list of storytelling podcasts. We truly are in a golden age of entertainment, and podcasts are an endless source of fun. Take a look at some of these stories. I’m sure that you will find something that you like.