Our Favorite Podcasts of 2023

A collection of some of our favorite podcasts from this year!

Featuring Radio Rental, Witch, Undertow: The Sisters, The Antiquarium of Sinister Happenings, Old Time Radiocast, Within the Wires - Season 8, Mayfair Watchers Society and Harley Quinn And The Joker: Sound Mind.

By Eimear O SullivanMusicngear Editor

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Α blend of fiction podcasts (horror, mystery, surrealist), non-fiction podcasts, and more. Including; an anthology show that feels like a horror omnibus from the 1990s; remastered mystery stories from old radio shows; a wonderful and in-depth look at the history of the witch; a strange self-help tape from an alternate universe, and more!


Radio Rental - Tenderfoot TV

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Hosted from a 1980s style VHS store; by the one and only Terry Carnation  (voiced by Rainn Wilson), Radio Rental is a collection of real life terrifying and unusual encounters and situations that have happened to real people. These stories are played as tapes, with interludes of Terry Carnation from the VHS store (at times, featuring Malachi, the inter dimensional cat). Radio Rental has been around since 2019, however, I only started listening to it this year, and it is now one of my (and anyone I have recommended it to) all time favorite podcasts. Some of these stories are so unsettling, you will think about them at night long after listening to them, or they will come to you while at home alone, causing you to shudder. Some particularly terrifying recommendations include: Night Scope (episode 44),  Laura of the Woods (episode 04), and Told a Serial Killer (episode 02).

Connect with Radio Rental 
Website / Instagram / Spotify / Twitter

Connect with Terry Carnation 
Website / Instagram / Twitter

Connect with Tenderfoot TV
Website / Instagram / Twitter


Witch (BBC Radio 4)

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The morning I started listening to India Rakusen’s podcast Witch, I was overworked, jittery and just in general, a bit fried. By episode two of this, I felt like I had been out for a walk in a lush, overgrown forest where it had just rained, and had followed it up with a healing, aromatic herbal tea. 

The presenter meets with historians, academics,  practicing witches, herbalists, feminists and others, to explore the path of how we came to view the figure of the witch, how it is practiced today and more. She goes into detail about where her interest in witches came from, I have also had a lifelong interested in witches (originating from Winnie the Witch, Mildred Hubble ( I was also admittedly, a bit of an Ethel Hallow stan), Hermione Granger, Sabrina). 

It is a highly in-depth exploration of the history of the witch; and it does not shy away from the brutal misogyny that resulted in the horrific witch trials; reminding us to not just think about the trials as a collective event; but to remember the individual people and human beings who suffered deeply as a result of it.

This podcast is also a wonderful exploration of why we connect with witchcraft, how the practice is intertwined with the natural world around us, which is teeming with beauty and life, in addition it being a means of connecting with yourself; and most of all, it can be an act of reclaiming your power.

As a whole, this podcast is thoroughly enriching, the lush sound design very soothing - it alights your senses, reminding you to take in the sheer volume of life that exists around you. Witch is a rich tapestry of knowledge that leaves you, just, better.

For those interested in the books mentioned throughout the podcast, or the work of those interviewed, India has compiled a list here

Connect with India Rakusen
Instagram / Twitter / Website


The Antiquarium of Sinister Happenings 

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This deliciously eerie podcast is kind of like a horror anthology omnibus from the 1990s; a dusty book that you came across in a second-hand store, that ended up becoming one of your favorite books, sucking you into its macabre world from the first page. The tales in this are so well crafted, the sound design immersive. The stories range from gothic horror, eerie encounters that morph into full-blown cosmic horror, unsettling science fiction, all presented by the sinister owner of the antiquarium. This stars the likes of Kate Siegal, Josh Ruben (who made Werewolves Within, one of the best comedy horror movies ever), Mike Flanagan and more. 

Connect with The Antiquarium of Sinister Happenings 
Instagram / Twitter

Connect with Bloody FM
Website / Instagram / Twitter


The Sisters - Realm

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I have had a love for horror that revolves around mysterious events that unfold via found footage (e.g a tape, a VHS, a lot of this is due to my love of the movie The Ring). If you like this type of horror then this podcast is for you, as it alternates between tape recording from the 1960s, and a modern day museum in Philadelphia, who receive a mysterious item. This was inspired by real events, and stars Mae Whitman (who is fantastic, as always). This will draw you in instantly. 

Connect with Realm
Website / Instagram / Facebook / Twitter


Old Time Radiocast - Cryptic County

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These are remastered horror and thriller stories from old radio shows such as Suspense, Inner Sanctum Mysteries, Murder At Midnight and more. My dad has a book of MR James horror stories; and when I was younger I would read these at nighttime, sitting in a sofa chair, under the lamplight; this podcast recreates feeling, bringing me right back into that immersive era of gothic horror.

This podcast will make like you are listening to it by candlelight, with the wind and rain howling outside.  

Connect with Cryptic County
Instagram / Website


Within the Wires - Season 8  / Night Vale Presents

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This is a self help cassette tape, found at the side of a desert road, in an alternate universe.

Within the Wires is brought to you by Night Vale Present; and it has the surrealist quality that makes Welcome to Night Vale so wonderful. The speaker of this mysterious tape invites you, in episode one, to fill out the form, for the premium experience. Kitschy synthetic music plays between segments, (done by Mary Epworth), and, at the end of each episode, the listener is given an assignment. Things gradually get stranger as the tapes progress, this is so odd, so bizarre, and so much fun.

Connect with Within the Wires
Website / Instagram / Twitter

Connect with Night Vale Presents
Website / Twitter / Facebook


Mayfair Watchers Society  / Bloody FM

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This podcast is done via found footage; in which artist Trevor Henderson’s terrifying creations come to life in this podcast in horror anthology format; all set in the town of Mayfair. This has been around since 2022, I actually only came across it this year, and I am hooked.

The episodes are slow burning, with things gradually getting more and more creepy. One of my favorites so far is PEEK, which is about a woman moving into an apartment, where the other tenants are behaving strangely towards her, to say the least. Unsettling things start happening, things getting more and more eerie. This podcast is best consumed in the dark, the sound design deeply immersing you in these terrifying tales. Great sound design. Some night this winter, turn off all the lights, and listen to one of these episodes, go on, I dare you. 

Connect with Mayfair Watchers Society
Twitter

Connect with Bloody FM
Website / Instagram / Twitter


Harley Quinn And The Joker: Sound Mind

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Created by Eli Horowitz, and starring Christina Ricci as Harleen Quinzel, Harley Quinn And The Joker: Sound Mind opens with Harleen working in Arkham Asylum; as she tries to improve the lives of those held within the system; only to be met with institutional sludge and bureaucracy. The story details the impossible situation Harleen finds herself in, when faced with a colossal healthcare cost required to keep her closest family member, her father, alive. Around this time, she is introduced to patient J ( The Joker, voiced by Billy Magnussen, who portrays the Joker’s insidious and terrifying personality so well).

The sound design in this is incredible; you are swept right into the harshly lit halls of Arkham Asylum, the concrete gothica of Gotham city at night time and its mistry, shadowy alleyways, and the plush suites of Bruce Wayne. 

The writing is excellent in this, as is Christina Ricci’s take of Harley Quinn, as you feel the mounting pressure and frustration of the situation she finds herself thrust into; follow Harley Quinn down this dark path, as the web between her and the joker gets more and more tangled.

Connect with Eli Horowitz
Website

Connect with Christina Ricci
Instagram / Twitter / Facebook

Connect with Realm
Website / Instagram / Facebook / Twitter

About Eimear O Sullivan

Eimear Ann O Sullivan is a multi-genre music producer, audio engineer and vocalist. After receiving a Masters in Music Technology from the CIT Cork School of Music, she went on to operate as a producer under the name Blakkheart. Her releases have received critical acclaim from Ireland's biggest music publications, such as District Magazine and Nialler9, alongside receiving heavy commercial radio airplay. She currently works in Cork recording studio Flashpoint CC. Previous clients of hers include the likes of Comedy Central’s Dragony Aunt star Candy Warhol, rapper Darce and Outsider YP. (Photo credit @Fabian Boros)

Contact Eimear O Sullivan at eimear.o.sullivan@musicngear.com

About Music Spotlight

In this blog section we host new music releases, artist features and handpicked playlists by the Musicngear staff.

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