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Podcast Review: The Black Tapes

Did you like ghost stories when you were a kid? Sitting around the campfire, listening to scary tales and urban legends? If so, The Black Tapes is for you.

The Black Tapes follows the story of journalist Alex Reagan as she investigates a series of unsolved cases collected by paranormal researcher — and arch-sceptic — Dr Richard Strand. Strand heads up an institute devoted to debunking claims of things that go bump in the night. But during her first interview with Strand, Alex Reagan discovers the black tapes — cases Strand hasn’t been able to disprove.

(Or disprove yet, as Strand would say.)

From a storytelling perspective, The Black Tapes is superb. The personal interaction between Alex and Strand is sometimes tense, but always makes an interesting counterpoint to the cases they investigate together. Over the first series, what appear to be isolated cases begin to link up into a larger narrative arc that is both mysterious and deeply satisfying.

The production values, courtesy of Pacific Northwest Stories and Minnow Beats Whale, are pitch perfect for the style and content of the podcast. The mix of studio recordings, field recordings, and taped phone conversations keeps the tone varied and fresh. But the production truly shines in the sound department. Some of the audio effects from particularly creepy moments are flat out chilling.

If you enjoy a dose of spookiness in your day, give The Black Tapes podcast a try. I think you’ll like it.