As if over night, Sarah Koening's multi-part podcast "Serial" became a cultural phenomena. And with good reason -- it's fantastic. Adnan Syed's innocence, or lack thereof, became a global discussion, and Koening was even parodied on "SNL." Yet despite "Serial's" mainstream popularity, podcasts are still a niche interest.
Before "Serial", I didn't even know what a podcast was. I owe a lot to Koening. She introduced me to the wonderful world of podcasting, despite having the handy app on my phone for, well, as long as I've had an iPhone.
Woe is pre-podcast me. I was missing out on a goldmine of entertainment. But you don't have to.
I've compiled a list of eight podcasts that I've enjoyed immensely, and am hoping you will too.
Author Aaron Mahnke offers bi-weekly scares with "Lore", a podcast about "true life scary stories." Mahnke's narrative is smart, spooky and stunning; he will likely leave you on the edge of your seat.
Suscribe to "Lore" on Itunes.
Funny and surprisingly pensive, Jack O'Brien's podcast is an auditory extension of his website. O'Brien and a myriad of fellow "Cracked" writers dissect pop culture, debate ideas and debunk myths -- and they have a whale of a time doing it.
Subscribe to "The Cracked Podcast" on iTunes
3. "Sword and Scale"
If you're a true crime nut (like me), then this podcast will be right up your alley -- your dark, scary alley. "Sword and Scale" bills itself as an "immersive audio experience covering the underworld of criminal activity and demented minds that perform the most despicable and unthinkable actions..." This podcast will make you lose faith in humanity, but in the most entertaining way.
Subscribe to "Sword and Scale" on iTunes.
This performance art podcast from "Pacific Northwest Stories" is in the same vein as "Serial." That is, if "Serial" was about demons and apparitions. Hosted by fictional journalist Alex Reagan, "The Black Tapes" follows her investigation of "literal and figurative ghosts." Do you believe?
Subscribe to "The Black Tapes Podcas"t on iTunes.
If there had been a local radio station for David Lynch's "Twin Peaks," then it would've sounded a lot like this. "Welcome to Night Vale" is a faux radio drama about a peculiar town where there are weird lights in the sky and hooded figures in the town square. It is beautiful and bizarre.
Subscribe to "Welcome to Night Vale" on iTunes.
The concept is simple: true crime reporting. However, it's not "the 'if it bleeds, it leads' kind of crime," or so states that show's description. It's a bit more complicated than that. This show is stylistically similar to "Sword and Scale", just writ small. Host Phoebe Judge (could she have a more fitting name?) offers weekly morsels of crime, each one less than 30 minutes long.
Subscribe to "Criminal" on iTunes.
This performance art podcast follows investigative reporter Lia Haddock as she explores the disappearance of the entire population of "Limetown", a small town with a dark secret. Gripping and eerie, this podcast will leave you craving more. But it may keep you up at night.
Subscribe to "Limetown" on iTunes.
Irresistible and quirky, this podcast features host Starlee Kine as she attempts to make sense of a senseless world. Follow Kine as she delves deep into Britney's Spears' reading habits or as she locates the owner of an unusual vanity plate. If "This American Life" and Nancy Drew made a baby, "Mystery" Show would be it.
Subscribe to Mystery Show on iTunes.