Podcasting is the perfect partner for storytelling, and people have been using this platform to tell fictional tales since the medium itself was born.
And just like podcasting on a whole, fiction podcasting has grown steadily year after year.
Though I use the term “fiction podcasting”, there’s still no universally agreed-on term for story podcasts. That’s something I take a deeper look at in this article.
Perhaps lack of a universal term makes it harder for listeners to search for their next series to binge on Google or iTunes. There’s certainly still a high demand for quality fiction podcasts, despite new shows launching with increasing regularity.
That’s why I’ve awarded myself the thankless task of creating a “best audio fiction podcasts” list, which is of course purely my personal opinion as both a fiction podcast listener, and creator.
This was difficult because there’s way too many shows that I love to include all of them here.
As I’ve mentioned, there are also new shows appearing all the time, and many old ones that I still haven’t even heard yet. Nevertheless, if you have a thirst for some audio storytelling, I’m sure you’ll find something you like here:
This style of fiction podcast is probably the most popular at the moment. These “as real” shows feature teams of podcast producers whose episodes involve them working to solve the mysteries their shows are based around. Audio fiction has spent years in the wilderness from the mainstream. The fact that these shows and their stories are so immediately accessible gives them the edge at the moment. They are well presented, easy to follow, and most importantly, the stories hook you right from the start.
The Black Tapes
The Black Tapes is an investigation of the paranormal. The team look into a number of demonic and ghostly occurrences which gradually appear to have some sort of chilling connection to each other.
The focus of Limetown is to get to the bottom of what happened in a small American town 10 years ago when over 300 people vanished without a trace.
The Message brings an extra-terrestrial element to the table as the main reporter covers the decoding of a message received from outer space 70 years ago.
Post-apocalyptic fiction is as popular as ever. And whilst it would take millions to create a movie showing hordes of zombies lumbering through the streets of LA, or waves crashing over a collapsed Statue of Liberty, that’s not the case when you’re working in audio.
You can dismantle the world we live in, and rebuild it in whatever way you like, just like these great shows have…
We’re Alive is the story of a small group of survivors caught in the midst of a zombie apocalypse in Los Angeles. This series began in 2009 and helped shape the medium of Modern Audio Drama as we know it today.
The Cleansed is set in rural Maine, 15 years after the “oilpocalypse” where there’s no more fossil fuels to burn. It is described on the show’s feed as equal parts ‘Mad Max’ and ‘The Stand’
Our Fair City
Our Fair City is a more comedic effort that sticks us right in the middle of a world where everything is owned and operated by the HartLife Corporation.
Just like post-apocalyptic stories, science fiction lends itself well to a medium where no scene is too big, and nothing is impossible. In the audio medium you can build new worlds, create entire galaxies – and destroy them too.
There are probably more Sci-Fi shows in the fiction podcasting space than any other medium. It’s immensely difficult to pick just 3, but you can find more right here.
Edict Zero FIS
Edict Zero FIS is a cyberpunk crime drama that takes place on an Earth-like planet in the distant future. Probably the finest soundscape and production levels that you’re ever likely to hear.
The Bright Sessions
The Bright Sessions is a science fiction audio drama about people with supernatural abilities in therapy with the mysterious Dr Bright.
ars Paradoxica is a time travel story following the story of Dr Sally Grissom, who finds herself in the middle of a military base in 1943 after an experiment gone wrong.
If you’re into Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, or The Elder Scrolls, then these are the shows for you.
The Once & Future Nerd
The Once & Future Nerd is the story of a group of US High School kids who find themselves transported to a world of orcs, elves, and warring armies.
Witch Hunter follows the story of Ludlov, a hardened but principled witch hunter working in the Gothic, sprawling city of Sevenpeaks.
Alba Salix: Royal Physician
Alba Salix Royal Physician is one that could’ve also slotted into our comedy category. Alba’s is the story of a witch and long suffering employee of a bickering King and Queen in a land of magic and fairies.
Sometimes you just want a bit of a laugh on your morning commute. Or you do, at least, until you start laughing out loud on the train for no apparent reason and everyone thinks you’re an idiot. Here’s some brilliantly surreal audio humour…
In Hadron Gospel Hour an attempt to weaponise the Great Hadron Collider has gone horribly wrong, resulting in the destruction of our timeline.
Wooden Overcoats takes us to a fictional English island to witness a hilarious stand-off between two rival undertakers.
Wynabego Warrior is a modern day old west tale. The story of a man determined to find the old west that he remembers from the silver screen of his youth.
Maybe you prefer short stories, a variety of characters and varying settings in your audio fiction podcasts. In that case, the anthology series is for you.
The Truth is a show that has mastered the intimacy of audio drama, and each story will leave you thinking about it for days afterwards.
Campfire Radio Theater
If horror is your bag, then look no further than Campfire Radio Theater where these tales of the macabre range between original works and adaptations of popular legends and mysteries.
The Stories of Mahabharata
For something completely different, The Stories of Mahabharata are beautifully narrated and soundscaped traditional Indian fables, each with different lessons and morals.
Prefer the Pick’n’Mix approach where you just want to sit back and let someone choose a story for you? Then check out these long running podcasts.
Radio Drama Revival
Radio Drama Revival is a weekly showcase of stories post-golden age of radio drama from across the world.
Sonic Society “spreads stories through the theater of the mind” on a weekly basis. Formed in 2005, it is a true institution within the medium.
I’ve discovered loads of shows by listening to them for the past few years, and they continue to dig up works, new and old, to this day. If you’re churning through all your favourite fiction podcasts at an alarming rate, be sure to subscribe to these two and stay in the loop finding fresh stuff.
Discovering Other Fiction Podcasts
There’s a collection of short audio promos in the Audio Drama Production Podcast Trailer Park. You’ll be sure to find something that catches your ear there before having to download or subscribe to anything. If you produce a fiction podcast yourself you can also submit your own trailer to be listed there.
If you’re on Twitter, follow the #AudioDramaSunday hashtag where you’ll find links to the shows that are creating a bit of hype.
And keep an eye on Audiotainment News for all the latest releases in the world of audio drama and fiction podcasting.
Make Your Own
Audio Drama Production Podcast
The Audio Drama Production Podcast is a podcast about – funnily enough – the production of audio drama. It isn’t just production that’s covered though, the subjects of storytelling in general, writing, voice acting, and creating sound effects are often talked about too. The ADPP features interviews from many of the medium’s top names.
How to Make a Fiction Podcast
How to Make a Fiction Podcast is a series of blog posts aimed towards helping you do just that. It covers story format, structure, writing for audio, finding actors, recording, production, launching, and monetising your fiction podcast.
Just The Tip of the Iceberg
As with any “best podcasts” list, this is all purely my personal opinion. It’s now your duty to berate me for all your favourite shows that I’ve left out in the comments below.
There are hundreds more great shows out there, and new ones launching all the time. That’s why we decided to launch our Fiction Podcast of the Week feature, so we could cover as many as possible.
So if you run a fiction podcast (or know someone who does) and would like to be featured, just let me know.
We’re always looking for more great stories to listen to.