Unabridged Access

30 March 2016

Staff Favorites – Podcast Docudramas

Are you in between audiobooks and looking for a great new listen? In our series of Staff Favorites we’re sharing some of our favorite podcasts to listen to (when we’re not listening to the next big audiobook). This week, our Publisher’s Assistant Alex recommends her favorite docudramas.

I’ve recently become a podcast addict. It began with Serial, as the addiction usually does, and moved onto the equally mystifying Lore and the even more terrifying Sword and Scale. I highly recommend all three of these podcasts if you’re into mystery and murder and the undeniable horror that a human is capable of. With Sword and Scale being the exception (I had to pause listening to because it gave me nightmares), I listened to the podcasts so voraciously that I ran out of new episodes. When I ran out of episodes, I was also in between audiobooks, leaving me craving a short burst of something more… then I stumbled on podcast docudramas. These are fictional dramas delivered in the same investigative documentary style as the nonfiction podcasts I mentioned above.

I started with Limetown, which I found via a recommendation on Reddit when I was desperately searching for a new listen. I was hooked within ten minutes of the first episode. This podcast tells the story of the disappearance of all 300 of the inhabitants of the fictional Limetown, with a dash of a lot of mysterious looking people in black, and zero media access allowed inside the town. Add ten years for the mystery to stew, and a young investigative journalist who had an uncle in the town trying to get to the bottom of the disappearances and, voila, you have a mystery worthy of The X-Files. I won’t say anymore because I don’t want to give anything away, but seriously, download this podcast now and start from episode one—don’t look ahead and don’t read about it. You will not be disappointed.

My follow-up find was The Message. This follows a young linguistic student who gets to get an insider look on a team of cryptologists who are working to decode and decipher a message a message received from outer space 70 years previously. Sounds cut and dry, but I promise it’s anything but. I didn’t enjoy this one as much as Limetown, but I was able to finish it within two bus rides, so I think it’s worth the listen.

My latest finds have been The Black Tapes and Tanis. I started with The Black Tapes, and when I finished all of the available episodes, I went to listen to the spin off, Tanis.

Warning: The Black Tapes season 2 is currently on a two month hiatus and Tanis season 1 concluded just a couple of weeks ago. If you go ahead and listen, you’ll be waiting in limbo like me to see what happens, but I promise it’s worth it.

The Black Tapes follows investigative journalist Alex Reagan as she delves into the world of paranormal and superstition with Dr. Strand of the Strand Institute—an institution hell bent on debunking the supernatural. The podcast starts out innocently enough, with an interest in Dr. Strand and his work, but after the discovery of cases that Dr. Strand has not yet solved, Alex drives ahead down a dark path with so many twists and turns. If you love things that go bump in the night, this is the one for you.

Tanis is the sort-of spin-off podcast of The Black Tapes. The show’s producer and Alex’s sounding board, Nic Silver, finds a mystery of his own with the elusive and haunting concept that is Tanis. It’s a little hard to explain without giving too much away, and I must admit I found this one a bit harder to get into than The Black Tapes. Eventually, however, I was hooked and the season finale of this one was an unexpected doozy—well worth the slow start.

If you love audiobooks like I do, podcasts aren’t a leap, and docudrama podcasts are probably the closest thing you can get without committing to a new audiobook. Another warning: these podcasts will leave you with cliffhangers that have you refreshing your feed hoping to hear more.

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