Podcasts & the Oral Horror Tradition

By Shannon Lawrence

Horror has a long oral history, from fairy tales being passed down to keep children safe to the notorious radio broadcast of War of the Worlds, which sent people into a panic. Of course, it existed in one form or another long before that, with our cave dwelling ancestors likely telling tales around the fire to keep their children wary of the predators that waited with teeth and claws in the surrounding darkness. Even the monsters of Greek mythology started out as oral tradition before meeting pen and paper.

In our modern era, this is where podcasts come in. No more do people have to turn on the radio at a specific time to hear frightening stories. Podcasts can be streamed on phones and computers, making them conveniently portable and close to hand. They fill the insides of cars while people commute to work and filter through earbuds and headsets wherever there’s a signal. If someone won’t have access to the internet or wi-fi at a specific time, they can always download the next episode of their favorite podcast ahead of time and listen to it offline. While books and movies will always bring a strong current of horror, podcasts are entering their prime…and bringing horror with them.

To get to know some of our members’ podcasts, I asked two of our podcasters a few questions.

Our first podcaster is C.S.W., host of the Incarnation Read podcast.

Tell us about your podcast.

My podcast is called INCARNATION READ (pronounced “red”). It’s a horror anthology podcast of 20-30 minute fictional horror stories, all written, edited, and narrated by myself.

Where can it be found and how often do you post a new episode?

Incarnation Read is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, YouTube, Deezer, Pocket Casts, Breaker, Overcast, Radio Public, TuneIn, Podcast Addict, and Castbox. Episodes are uploaded once every other Saturday, with Season 2’s upcoming premiere slated for Halloween 2021.

What made you decide to start a podcast?

I feel that audio is one of the strongest mediums for eliciting fear, both in the story that is told and in the sounds that accompany it. In the scariest scenes of horror films, what a character hears is often the first thing that truly frightens them, so a podcast (being an audio-first art form), seems to me the perfect medium for such an emulation.

If you could give one reason why someone should listen to your podcast, what would it be?

I suppose it would be that with Incarnation Read, I try to avoid telling the listener a story, and instead make the listener experience the story, all through the use of sound design as a means of storytelling. So if you’re looking to be scared by the very sounds you are hearing, Incarnation Read is for you.

Are there any other horror/true crime podcasts you’d recommend?

My personal favorites are the podcasts Mabel, The Magnus Archives, and Knifepoint Horror.

You can find C.S.W. and the Incarnation Read podcast at the following links:


Twitter: @CSW_Horror


Instagram: @IncarnationRead


TikTok: @csw_horror

Our next interview is with Jeamus Wilkes, host of The Jeamus After Midnight Show.

Tell us about your podcast?

My podcast is The Jeamus After Midnight Show, and it covers heady, philosophical, and aesthetic topics in horror through interviews and discussions with horror creatives (writers, artists, poets, performers, and such). I have conversation-starting questions, but I also give the guest the freedom to talk about any of the horror genre things that pique their interest or affect them profoundly in some way. I have no time limit, though most episodes right now seem to be finishing at an hour and fifteen or an hour and thirty minutes.

Where can it be found and how often do you post a new episode? 

It can be found on Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and on its base at Podbean. There’s also a handy little player in the left column of my Jeamus After Midnight blog. I’m easy to find in a Google search. The podcast stalled out in 2020, but I am about to drop several episodes soon after many hours in editing. After getting over the 2020 hiccup, I hope to post 2-3 episodes a month. If I can get a successful patreon/support campaign going, I hope to do it once a week. I’m obsessive about the audio presentation and editing of it. I have environment- and thematic-based ambient sounds coupled with tight editing throughout the episodes; I don’t just throw up episodes and slap music onto the beginning and end. It’s a creative project I take seriously that takes hours and hours. In the coming weeks and months I will also increase the podcast’s linkage to my baby, the Colorado Horror Channel.

What made you decide to start a podcast? 

Other podcasts that were inspiring, or provoked an inquisitive response in me to research the person, place, or thing they discussed. Other podcasts that were bombastic, annoying, and a bit too fannish helped me in knowing how I didn’t want to produce a podcast. I love having philosophical, spiritual, and deep dig discussions with other horror creatives, and decided to use that to help promote them and to also help selfishly scratch my horror-centric soapbox itch.

If you could give one reason why someone should listen to your podcast, what would it be? 

You will get inspired by many things in every episode you hear. You’ll want to chase down a million things you hear. I try to provide references in episode notes, but you may want to keep paper and pen at hand.

Are there any other horror/true crime podcasts you’d recommend? 

The Evolution of Horror is outstanding, and fun. Projections is an incredible podcast that tackles cinema from a psychoanalytic perspective, so naturally horror and horror-adjacency comes up quite often in its episode subjects and themes. The Burial Plot Podcast is new and great in its tone and theme. Josh’s Worst Nightmare is fascinating in its biological horror approach to discussions. Aside from those I randomly visit podcasts that have fiction committed to an audio presentation. I love storytelling. The original cut of the Creepy podcast episode, “1999,” (based on a creepy pasta posting) is one of the most frightening stories I’ve ever taken in.

You can find Jeamus and The Jeamus After Midnight Show at the following links:

Blog: jeamus.blogspot.com

Facebook: facebook.com/jeamuswilkes/

While not strictly horror, true crime podcasts have taken a popular place among the populace, with listeners enjoying (so to speak) stories about modern day bogeymen, the serial killers and murderers that decorate our headlines, now and in the past. Neighbors, co-workers, family, and friends have long talked in quiet voices about the weird guy down the street or the woman in the decrepit house. When their suspicions are proven out by real-life violence, there’s a satisfaction alongside a tingle of fear, and their eyes slide on to the next strange townsperson who poses a threat. For those who prefer their horror in true crime fashion, I also answered the questions about my true crime and paranormal podcast, Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem.

Tell us about your podcast.

My co-host, MB Partlow, and I do the Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem podcast, which features stories about true crime, the paranormal, cryptids, and random mayhem that catches our eye. All with a sense of humor.

Where can it be found and how often do you post a new episode?

We can be found pretty much everywhere you get your podcasts, including Apple, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Google, Stitcher, Amazon, Pandora, and our own website, mysteriesmonstersmayhem.com. We put up weekly episodes, and are in our second season.

What made you decide to start a podcast?

I’d been listening to a couple true crime podcasts when the pandemic started, and I thought, “I can do this!” When I contacted MB about it and asked if she wanted to start one of our own, where we could also discuss books, movies, and food, while getting to hang out and chat, she was all in. And a podcast was born. (After tons of research, of course.)

If you could give one reason why someone should listen to your podcast, what would it be?

While we cover a lot of the more popular topics, we also tend to include lesser known crimes, such as historical axe murders, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW), the sordid origins of various sayings and myths, cryptozoological creatures, and haunted buildings and people. There was even an episode about a famous maple syrup heist. In other words, we mix things up and try to keep it fresh.

Are there any other horror/true crime podcasts you’d recommend?

The one that got me started was My Favorite Murder, followed closely by The Murder Squad. Small Town Dicks is another good one, as is the Macabre London Podcast.

You can find me (Shannon Lawrence) and Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem at the following links:

Shannon Lawrence author website

Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem website

Shannon Lawrence author Facebook

Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem Facebook

Shannon Lawrence Instagram

Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem Instagram

Shannon Lawrence Twitter

So tell us, do you have any favorite horror or true crime podcasts? Post them in the comments!

About the Author: A fan of all things fantastical and frightening, Shannon Lawrence writes primarily horror and fantasy. Her stories can be found in over forty anthologies and magazines, and her three solo horror short story collections, Blue Sludge Blues & Other Abominations, Bruised Souls & Other Torments, and Happy Ghoulidays are available now. You can also find her as a co-host of the podcast “Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem.” When she’s not writing, she’s hiking through the wilds of Colorado and photographing her magnificent surroundings, where, coincidentally, there’s always a place to hide a body or birth a monster. Find her at http://www.thewarriormuse.com.

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