Podcasts You Should Listen To #1: ‘The Black Tapes Podcast’

Like half the planet, I became hooked on ‘Serial‘, the podcast detailing and examining the case against Adnan Syed. I’m on the fence as to his guilt, I don’t think we’ve got nearly the whole story and there’s definitely something ‘off’ about the case, but it made for compelling listening. Through ‘Serial’ I became a regular listener of ‘This American Life‘ and ‘Criminal‘.

One thing these all have in common is that they’re non-fictional, but what if they weren’t?

This is where ‘The Black Tapes Podcast‘ comes in.


TBTP uses the ‘Serial’ format in that Alex, an investigative journalist working for the fictional ‘This America Life’-esque ‘Pacific Northwest Stories’, is investigating a series of paranormal cases involving The Strand Institute led by super-sceptical Dr. Strand (think James Randi). Strand has skeletons in his closet and a collection of tapes purporting to show unexplained or unexplainable paranormal phenomenon, Alex investigates and becomes involved with things which have them both struggling to find explanations for.

The production values of each episode are easily on par with it’s non-fictional counterparts, at times it’s very easy to forget that this you’re listening to fiction. Fans of the ‘NoSleep Podcast‘ should definitely add TBTP to their feed if you haven’t already done so. Anyone who likes horror stories should check out the ‘NoSleep Podcast’, although perhaps not late at night.

If you’re already familiar with TBTP, perhaps consider throwing them some money as they’re nearing their target goal on Kickstarter.





Podcasts I Recommend

I was trying to persuade a co-worker with a newly acquired Ipod Touch that he might enjoy podcasts, I even gave him a few recommendations. Alas, he wasn’t interested and said he got fed up with listening to self-centred people who were up their own arses talk incoherently for twenty minutes – and that sadly put him off listening to any others… I decided not to ask which one he tried as I was a bit disappointed since I thought podcasting would be right up his alley, what with him being a big radio listener and really into his history.

This got me thinking about the podcasts I subscribe to (there’s about twenty, mostly around the same subjects) and which ones I look forward to dropping into my feed. The others I have more of a casual relationship with, if there’s another one I might listen straight away or I might listen when I have a few backed up… sometimes I take a break from some podcasts as I’m a bit bored of the hosts or the subjects.

So, in alphabetical order these are the ones that I eagerly await:

1) Anything Ghost
It’s cheesy, it’s random but it’s a great little show. Lex, the host, reads out the ghost stories and encounters that his listeners have sent in – he has a great way of reading them and even puts in some effects and music of his own creation to help with the mood. I don’t always like the music he’s created and often the stories aren’t that great but there’s often a gem, a nice little spooky story perfect for bedtime. It’s addictive and soon you’ll want to join in, I sent in a random story from a theatre I used to work just because I wanted to contribute.

2) Digital Planet
From the BBC World Service, a great little technology show and about how it affects us in our every day life. They’ve been talking about Twitter parties, open source software (including OpenID), and piracy. One of the recent episodes went to a Twitter party where they talked to the people there about their experiences, why they use it and how it’s bringing likeminded people together (as well as talking about if Twitter is selling out now that it’s become mainstream… I feel that I’ve had that conversation with some recently.)

3) ExtraLife Radio with Scott Johnson
A geek radio show that’s broadcast live each week; I’ve not been able to listen to it live but I certainly look out for each episode. The three hosts have great interaction and talk about movies, games, comic books and other things going on in the world of geekery. All three hosts run web comics that are definitely worth checking out as well as the show.

4) Mark Kermode & Simon Mayo’s Film Reviews
Kermode’s rants are legendary, and his reviews and banter make for great ‘wittertainment’ . Often he’ll review something that I’d never consider seeing and based purely on the review I’ll give it ago – most of the time I’m surprised and wonder what else I’ve dismissed because I didn’t fancy the idea. Dr Kermode is well worth listening to (oh, this is another BBC radio programme that’s released as a podcast each week and one day I’d love to be able to tune in live).

5) Royal Society Lectures
The Royal Society do lectures which the public are free to attend, fortunately for those of us who can’t get there they release the lecture for free. I’ve found that even the topics I’ve only a passing interest or sometimes no interest have got me listening – sometimes the lecturer doesn’t make the subject easy to listen to but most of the time they’re easy to listen to and hugely informative. For those who don’t know, the Royal Society is really ‘The Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge’ which should give you an idea of what they aim is, so you can imagine what sort of lectures they do.

6) Starbase 66
This is a newcomer and has fast become my favourite Star Trek podcast. The hosts are interesting and bring varying backgrounds to the table, the discussions have been good, I particularly like them talking about homosexuality with Star Trek as it hasn’t been talked about yet in any of the other Trek podcasts I casually listen to. If you like your Trek and other sci-fi, then this is the podcast you’ll enjoy!

7) Skeptics Guide to the Universe
Wrong spelling of ‘skeptics’ aside, I really enjoy the banter between the hosts and am a huge fan of Rebecca Watson. I like hearing a voice of reason to some of the stranger and scary science stories that creep around the world. They often interview interesting people about their work as well as playing an amusing game of ‘Science or Fiction’.

8) WaffleOn
Another newcomer, this is a podcast about British cult shows between 1960 and 1990. So far they’ve only done two episodes, a special on Patrick McGoohan special and an episode on Red Dwarf – both were brilliantly informative and it was nice to hear two close friends discuss their favourite and least favourite things. Based on the quality of the first two episodes I am certainly looking forward to hearing the others… particularly when they get round to doing the ‘Dad’s Army’ episode!

9) Weather Station 3
Unlike the other podcasts I’ve listed, this one doesn’t really have a theme as such but the host has one of those great voices that you can’t help listening to. Weathereye (also present on the Starbase 66 podcast) talks about thoughts on various subjects from Facebook to moronic news stories, he was definitely born to be a podcaster and it certainly helps that he is a former journalist.