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The Student News Site of Simmons University

The Simmons Voice

The Student News Site of Simmons University

The Simmons Voice

‘The Black Tapes Podcast’ creeps into popular culture

By Kate Joseph
Staff Writer

Getting spooked around Halloween is nothing new, but you’ve never experienced a horror story like this. Maybe you seek out scares from horror movies, thrilling books, or visiting haunted houses, but you may not have known there’s some high-quality, eerie entertainment for free online.

“The Black Tapes Podcast” is a fictional, NPR-like radio show  — think “Serial,” but focused on the paranormal rather than the true story of a murder — which follows host Alex Reagan on her search for the truth behind Dr. Richard Strand’s black tapes.

Originally, the story was just an episode of another show, “Pacific North West Stories”, in which Reagan researched and discussed ghostly activity in the area. However, the feature spawned its own spin-off series after Reagan spoke with Strand, a skeptical paranormal investigator, and discovered his intriguing tapes, the only paranormal claims he hasn’t been able to solve.

Throughout season one, twelve 40-minute episodes, Reagan delves into the stories behind the tapes, such as a supposed shadow man who has been following a man since he was young; a boy in a mental hospital who murdered his parents and is believed to be possessed; and “the unsound,” a sound said to be created by Lucifer himself that eventually kills anyone who hears it within months of listening. Consider skipping that part if you’re superstitious.

Set those disturbing tales to creepy music, along with desperate first-hand accounts, alarming sound effects, and historical and scientific evidence, and it won’t take long to question if it’s really all just pretend.

Creators Paul Bae and Terry Miles crafted the podcast to terrify and entertain listeners based on their own love of thrilling media.

“I’ve loved ghost stories since I was a child,” Bae told “The Daily Dot” earlier this month. “I don’t know if I believe them, though. Terry and I love the horror genre and were raised on a diet on them.”

Neither the show nor Bae and Miles have publicly confirmed whether or not “The Black Tapes Podcast” is actually fact or fiction. However, based on online research yielding no real results for Dr. Strand, who the show reports as well-known for founding The Strand Institute, or any of the show’s many supposedly true stories, it is generally believed to be fictional. But without that confirmation from the show, the line between truth and myth often gets blurred.

That being said, “The Black Tapes Podcast” isn’t just another hokey collection of ghost stories and frights to make you jump. In fact, the podcast’s style is more likely to elicit goosebumps and a flushed face, similar to the experience of a nightmare or genuine, earned fear.
Plus, the listener knows it’s all just make-believe; there’s no reason for skepticism, overanalyzing or poking holes. It’s all just sinister fun and perhaps something to think about if you do happen to believe in life beyond the grave.

Season one of “The Black Tapes Podcast” just wrapped up, but season two is currently in production and is expected to be released sometime soon, according to the show.

“The Black Tapes Podcast” is available for free on iTunes, SoundCloud, Sticher, and on their website.

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