2017 was the year I got super into podcasts. Especially audio dramas. I listened to Welcome to Nightvale for a while three or four years ago, but then kind of lost interest. Then last year I stumbled across audio drama discussions on Twitter and it changed my life.
There are some amazing stories being told completely in an audio format. And the best part is that I can multitask in ways I can’t while reading or watching TV. So I can listen to hours and hours guilt free because I’m also doing dishes or driving while I’m absorbed in the story.
There’s an overwhelming number of great audio dramas out there, but I wanted to share my current six favorites. So brace yourself and check the storage on your phone because you’re going to want to spend some time with these.
Ghosts in the Burbs
Liz Sower collects the ghost stories and terrifying tales of her neighbors in upscale Wellesley, Massachusetts. These loosely connected stories are in turns hilarious and absolutely horrifying, offering insights into the dark secrets of a seemingly idyllic town. Living only a few towns away from Wellesley, I love hearing all the little local details. Plus Liz herself is an incredibly absorbing storyteller who carries the whole show single-handedly.
Ghosts in the Burbs is ongoing and you can listen to it here.
Clearly, I have a Massachusetts bias in my media tastes and I’m very okay with it. Greater Boston tells the story of a Boston just to the left of the real thing. Bits of magical realism float through it as the story is kicked off by a death on a roller coaster and carried on through the establishment of a city on an MBTA train line. Based on that description you wouldn’t expect it to be as heartbreaking as it is at points, tackling grief, addiction, and duty. But at the same time, it’s so funny and so gripping, you’ll find yourself falling in love with the Boston they portray.
Though it is on hiatus as of January 2018, Greater Boston is ongoing and you can listen to it here.
The Bright Sessions
Therapy for the strange and unusual, as the catchphrase goes. The Bright Sessions focuses on the therapy sessions of several “atypicals”: mostly ordinary people with extraordinary powers. At the center of it is their mysterious therapist, who might be more than she seems. This is one of the heavy hitters in audio drama and with good reason. The writing is fantastic, slowly diving deeper into each character’s individual backgrounds along with the overarching plot. And you’ll fall in love with the cast, even as you’re screaming at them for their questionable decision making.
The Bright Sessions is ongoing and you can listen to it here.
What’s the Frequency?
This one’s a trip. It’s new, four episodes in as of this entry. But it’s a noir detective story following the case of a missing writer in a psychedelic Los Angeles. I’m not really sure how to describe it. It’s funny, unnerving, and at one point outright terrified me as I drove through dark, unfamiliar streets in New Hampshire with my kid in the backseat. So yeah, I say get started on this one now while it’s in its early episodes and really take the time to absorb it.
What’s the Frequency is ongoing and you can listen to it here.
Wooden Overcoats tells the story of rival funeral homes in the tiny island village of Piffling Vale. Siblings Rudyard and Antigone Funn have the market cornered until the charming, successful Eric Chapman opens his own funeral parlor across the square. Wooden Overcoats is laugh-out-loud funny (As in, me loudly exclaiming “You assholes!” at one particularly hysterical twist as, again, my kid and I were out driving…whoops…) and has a ton of heart.
Wooden Overcoats is on hiatus until February, but you can listen to it here.
Wolf 359 begins with the audio logs of Communications Officer Doug Eiffel aboard the USS Hephaestus Station as it orbits the dwarf star Wolf 359. From there it becomes an epic story of humanity and hope light-years from home. I got hooked quickly back in November, fell in love with all the characters and their development, and devoured the series just in time to listen to its devastating finale in December.
Like I said above, Wolf 359 finished up in December. Which means you can listen to the whole thing here.
These are only a small sample of the audio dramas that are out there. Do you have any other suggestions? Leave them in the comments!