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Best Fiction Podcasts | My Top 10 Audio Dramas

As podcasting becomes more of a household form of media, the world of audio dramas–or fiction podcasts, or audio fiction–is ever-expanding.

Audio dramas can range from audiobook-esque single-narrator stories to full-cast productions with music and sound effects. Audio dramas can be serialized narratives or anthologies, changing stories each episode. If you think the forms are varied, the genres are just as diverse.

Whether you're looking for a story that will make you laugh, cry, or ponder about the universe–or, oftentimes, all three–there's an audio fiction out there for you.

Creating a “Best Fiction Podcasts” List

When it comes to naming the best audio dramas, my list often changes save for a few special exceptions. This list is given in no particular order, but is instead a collection of standout audio dramas that have been my favorite at some point.

With this list, I wanted to show a variety in form and genre while highlighting some of the most interesting work happening right now. This means everything on this list is an ongoing audio drama with new episodes still coming out.

When it comes to audio dramas, I usually prefer full-cast productions with a focus on character versus plot. I love meticulous sound design work, and I also love stories that take their time to develop.

1. What's the Frequency

What's the Frequency is a psychedelic noir–think The Maltese Falcon meets Eraserhead. This audio drama follows Walter “Troubles” Mix, a private investigator, and Whitney, his assistant, as the two try to figure out what happened to a radio play writer who mysteriously went missing.

I like to think of What's the Frequency as advanced listening in audio drama. This innovative podcast mixes comedy, drama, and sometimes horror. It slips between straightforward scenes and surrealist interludes, all combining to make something bizarre, beautiful, and extremely memorable.

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2. Greater Boston

Greater Boston is a work of slipstream fiction, a genre that blends the realistic with the fantastical. Taking place in a fictionalied version of Boston, this audio drama follows the event of the world's most boring man deciding to die while riding a roller coaster for the first time.

Greater Boston is a wily audio drama that lures you in with its silliness and strangeness only to quickly make its audience emotionally invested in its huge cast of characters. As each of their plots intersect and develop, the listener is left with questions like, “What is the nature of community?” and “How can we measure empathy?”

 3. The Far Meridian

The Far Meridian is a magical realism audio drama that follows Peri, a young woman who lives in a lighthouse that changes location each day. Peri is agoraphobic, but her lighthouse's changing locale brings out her confidence and courage.

The Far Meridian is a mix of an ongoing narrative and short character studies for everyone Peri meets during her reluctant travels. It's a tender story with a focus on humanism and introspection–and sound design. The Far Meridian is a Whisperforge production, a network well known for having some of the best-sounding audio dramas in the industry.

4. The Big Loop

If you're looking for an audio drama that you can jump into at any point, it's hard to do better than The Big Loop.

The Big Loop was created by Paul Bae of The Black Tapes. It's an anthology series of monologues written by Bae, all incorporating a theme of the supernatural.

Each episode is completely different in tone and story, but what they have in common is the lush, beautiful way they're written and performed. Each episode allows you to steep in the story, feeling completely immersed even with its simple design and delivery.

5. Marsfall

Marsfall is a classic space opera with a twist: each episode follows a different main character's perspective. Marsfall easily lends itself to discussions of the objective truth and the turmoil going on in others' lives, but that's all baked into a suspenseful story about surviving on Mars.

If you want an audio drama that feels cinematic, Marsfall has some of the best action scenes you'll hear in podcasting. It transports you to the world with audio alone, usually using stunning music to really punctuate the emotions in each episode.

6. The Amelia Project

The Amelia Project is a strange and hilarious audio drama about an agency that helps people fake their deaths. In each episode, a client tells an interviewer why they want to fake their death, and then how they want to return.

Each episode of The Amelia Project is filled to the brim with jokes. Each episode starts with a hilarious premise, but the real magic is the show's pacing and the writing of the interviewer. Just as jokes start to verge on being stale, the episodes pivot to open up a new line of jokes. The interviewer in each episode is high-energy and plucky, making for quickly-paced, witty conversation with the client.

7. StarTripper!!

If you're looking for something with the energy of Futurama  or Cowboy BebopStarTripper!! is a perfect place to start. In his audio drama, Feston Pyxis leaves his office job to pursue a life of travel and adventure. It's essentially an intergalactic, comedic travel podcast.

Because each episode is one of Feston's adventures, new listeners can jump in anywhere and not be lost. It's a high-energy podcast with a delightfully fun and funny spirit. Because it's another Whisperforge production, it also sounds phenomenal.

8. Join the Party

Join the Party is an actual play podcast–a genre of podcasts in which friends play a tabletop roleplaying game like Dungeons & Dragons together. Often, actual plays don't really feel like audio dramas, but Join the Party has such phenomenal sound design that it easily fits into the intersection of the two genres.

Join the Party is the adventures of Inara Harthorn, an elf rogue; Johnny B. Goodlight, a half-elf warlock; and TR8-C, a warforged (think fantasy robot) barbarian. In its first arc, the team has to help a wedding between two royals go smoothly. The story has a rich world and moments of intense drama, but it's punctuated by humor and wild antics, like any good game of D&D.

9. Everything Is Alive

Everything is Alive blurs the lines between fiction and nonfiction. Hosted by NPR's Ian Chillag, Everything is Alive is a series of improvised interviews with inanimate objects. Each episode has information that's true, but it's all rooted in the fictional conversation with the object.

Everything is Alive is an audio drama that consistently surprises you with how moving it is. It's easy to expect humor given the show's concept, but each episode also leaves a lingering feeling of wonder and often remorse.

10. The Once and Future Nerd

The Once and Future Nerd is the story of three teenagers from modern-day America who are transported to a fantastical realm. It's a bit of a Chronicles of Narnia story with a Tolkein edge.

What starts as a silly story filled with anachronism quickly becomes one of the most socially-aware, politically vocal audio dramas being made. The Once and Future Nerd tackles everything from racism to power structures to misogyny, all while being one of the best high fantasy audio dramas being made.

The Great Wide World of Fiction

Fiction is one of the biggest emergent parts of podcasting. They're a way to experience amazing works of fiction for free.

Like I said, my list of favorite audio dramas changes often because there's just so many great works out there. The world of audio dramas is huge and well worth exploring. We hope this list has been a helpful road map for you to start your journey into fiction.

What Did We Miss?

Are we missing your favorite audio dramas(s)? Let us know what you love and why in the comments below, or mention us in your #AudioDramaSunday recommended listens on Twitter.

Best Fiction Podcasts Hostile WorldsIf you fancy creating your own, then we actually have a series of articles on how to make a fiction podcast too.

And if you'd like to check out The Podcast Host's own effort in the world of audio drama, have a listen to Hostile Worlds. It's a space exploration series that combines fiction with science documentary elements!

The Fiction Podcast Weekly

Fiction Podcast Weekly is an email newsletter, bringing you the latest from the world of audio fiction, audio drama, and sound storytelling.

Are you involved in the medium in any way? Whether that's as a writer, producer, voice actor, curator, or even just a hardcore listener who loves the ‘behind the scenes' stuff. Whoever you are, whatever you do, this is a great way of staying up-to-date with the latest happenings and opportunities in the fiction podcasting realm!

Discussion:

46 Comments

  1. Pete Lutz on 2nd February 2016 at 6:16 pm

    I hope you’ll see fit to include Pulp-Pourri Theatre, which is producing new episodes on a monthly basis, and is an anthology series adapted from or inspired by pulp fiction. Considering we won several awards last year, we are fairly certain you and your followers will enjoy it.

    • Matthew McLean on 3rd February 2016 at 9:52 am

      Cheers Pete, I’ve never heard PPT before but it has been on my ever growing list for a while.

  2. tygr. on 2nd February 2016 at 8:32 pm

    Wait, all of the “Cinematic Epics” have been dead for several years! And there are so many more good, ongoing podcasts that would fit into this category. For example: Wolf 359, EOS 10, The Elysium Project, Audio Diary of a Superhero… all of them great, interesting and new audio dramas that would really benefit from a mention on a list like that.

    • Matthew McLean on 3rd February 2016 at 9:51 am

      Edict Zero is still well and truly alive Tygr, and so is We’re Alive (the new project Lockdown will be released in a few months). It is a shame about Leviathan though as I really enjoyed it. There’s a good case for including The Cleansed in here too, and I’m looking forward to checking out the shows you mentioned. Appreciate it.

  3. J.C. on 5th February 2016 at 1:13 am

    These are some solid recommendations. There’s a lot of great audio drama podcasts (an some not in podcast form) out there. I run Audio-Drama.com, an online audio drama directory with almost 3,000 links. If you ever do another list, I could recommend many productions.

    Also check out the Audio Drama group on reddit, where new shows are posted and discussed daily: https://www.reddit.com/r/audiodrama/

    • Matthew McLean on 16th February 2016 at 11:01 am

      Cheers J.C, A-D.com is a great site. I often read the Reddit page to look for new shows too.

  4. Danilo "Dansfx" Battistini on 16th February 2016 at 10:23 am

    Hello!

    First of all, thanks for all the good material you’re providing and also I’m a brazilian listener of “Audio Drama Production Podcast”, it really helps me a lot!

    My country doesn’t have much material about Audio Drama but I’m really into this stuff, thanks for everything and cheers!

    • Matthew McLean on 16th February 2016 at 10:50 am

      Thanks Danilo. Good to hear from you. Are you producing a show yourself at the moment?

      • Danilo "dansfx" Battistini on 26th February 2016 at 11:20 am

        Hi!

        I’m not producing a show “series-like” with episodes, but I’m producing monthly short stories for my Podcast Contador de Historias (it means Story Teller in english) and I’ve recently released an audio drama adaptation for the book Odd and the Frost Giants (Neil Gaiman) altough it’s in portuguese hahahahaha (:

  5. MadMikeyD on 19th May 2016 at 5:01 pm

    While you have listed lots of great stuff, I see the glaring omission of Decoder Ring Theatre’s “Red Panda Adventures” and “Black Jack Justice,” my two favorites. And the great “Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd” deserves a spot as well. Oh, and also “Thrilling Adventure Hour.” There are just so many.

    • Matthew McLean on 23rd May 2016 at 11:06 am

      Great suggestions Mike. Yeah there’s a whole load of shows that I love that I’ve left out of this list. I had to draw the line somewhere or it might have turned into a book 🙂

      • DALE MCFAUL on 26th May 2018 at 9:00 am

        I grew up listening to CBS Radio Mystery Theater. I encountered no other audio productions untill 2013 , these being OTR rebroadcasts on SiriusXM. I had been a longtime Audio Book Junkie, borowing mostly from the lending library. Being on the Road I found that nearly all Fuel Stops had more space allocated to audio books than to Cigaretts. But cleaning out the Truck one day, I found myself with a couple of banker boxes full of media. Unlike music, audio shows tend to become re-runs, like books or movies. Finding that the local library did not want them, I found a bookstore (experienced volumes only) that paid 8% of the original sticker in cash$48.50 ( you could get a 25% credit towards anything in the store. I then found ARCHIVE.ORG . I at once became a contributor. Guilt alone, and 20,000GB per month in downloads for 6 months, will insure that their yearly emails I recieve will have its desired effect for years to come. I at last purchased a preloaded 500GB pocket drive loaded with 74,000 episodes. All the Public domain OTR that exists, I think. I had heard of a group of artists in Portland OR that produce original weekly Detective episodes. I guess 74,000 sidetracked me. Tardy,as usuall, I am delighted to find the artform is not dead. They say everyone has one Novel inside them. This was probably mine, so even tho you may never see another post from me, I assure you I will be lurking in the wings. Thanks .

  6. Sigrid on 19th July 2016 at 5:11 pm

    There’s also lesbianromantic.com (The Lesbian Romantic Podcast) for the #lgbt community! And yes, this is a shameless plug of my own productions 😉

    Great blog post! Wish there was more audio fiction like this…

  7. Melissa on 10th August 2016 at 3:13 pm

    The Thrilling Adventure Hour (although it is currently “finished”) is well worth listening to. But – here’s a caveat. you must start at the beginning. I tried to jump in mid-way, and it wasn’t making any sense to me. I didn’t like it at all. My brother said no, go to the beginning and start there. I did. It’s so fabulously brilliant that I went back and listened to all the episodes twice.

    After Nightvale, they have been great at introducing new podcasts as well. Alice Isn’t Dead, and Within the Walls are brilliant female-led storytelling podcasts. Again, they are a series, so it’s no good jumping in mid-way.

    Thanks for this article. I’m so excited to listen to more fictional and fabulous stories!!

  8. Zak on 7th September 2016 at 10:58 pm

    If you’re looking for a comedy anthology in the vein of Naked Gun, then try out Radio Phonic Audio For Hearing (and also listening). They do a few serial shows as well as one-off “pilots.”

  9. Brent Robison on 2nd December 2016 at 4:23 pm

    Hi Matthew,
    Thanks for providing so much helpful information! My collaborator and I are new to the podcast world and are learning an incredible amount. Our podcast, The Strange Recital, launched in August with twice-monthly episodes, each featuring a short story plus an author interview with a twist. We fall into a weird gap between literary and speculative, sort of like Selected Shorts meets The Twilight Zone. Hope you’ll listen and enjoy! http://thestrangerecital.com

    • Aidan on 11th December 2016 at 7:17 pm

      I love Nightvale and was just checking that someone mentioned their podcasts in the comments. Your podcast sounds really cool; I’ll have to give it a listen. Pretty long list now that I’ve read this article. 🙂

      It’s good. I need to break away from political podcasts. My very sanity depends on it. XD

      • Matthew McLean on 12th December 2016 at 1:17 pm

        Cheers Aidan, yeah you need some escapism now and then eh…

  10. Julia Dulia on 21st February 2017 at 3:58 am

    If you haven’t given it a listen yet, you NEED to check out Welcome To Nightvale, its what got me into podcasting in the first place and its probably my all time favorite besides maybe Limetown.

    • Sarah on 8th June 2017 at 4:25 am

      I feel like we all started out with Welcome To Night Vale. It’s like the gateway podcast for many listeners. Nearly every time I ask a friend what podcast they started out with they say WTNV. It gets you hooked on the audio drama genre, not to mention the podcast itself.

  11. Tristan on 20th April 2017 at 10:47 pm

    Wow! This a seriously comprehensive list! Thanks for sharing, now that NoSleep season 8 is over I needed some new podcasts to listen to to hold me over.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Matthew McLean on 21st April 2017 at 8:54 am

      You’re welcome Tristan. Let us know what ones you enjoy.

  12. Sarah on 8th June 2017 at 4:35 am

    Don’t forget Archive 81, guys. It’s one of the best besides Alice Isn’t Dead, Wolf 359, The Bright Sessions and The Black Tapes Podcast.
    Whoa, I actually had to stop myself there. There’s so many wonderful podcasts out there. Honestly, all you really have to do to find recommendations for audio dramas is search up #podcasthell on Tumblr if you want to find all the good ones. The best ones are totally captivating and interesting to the point of listener obsession so generally they’re under that tag. A great story is the bane of any working class procrastinator’s existence. How many times have I ignored a deadline to listen to Wolf 359? (-_-) Oh well, it was totally worth it though.

  13. John on 8th December 2017 at 11:18 am

    Check out http://www.yarnpodcast.com
    Short autobiographic stories fro Ireland. Mixture of narration and actors with original music.

  14. Richter Von Streed on 6th February 2018 at 3:14 am

    You can’t be serious. I loved We’re Alive and decided to try EDICT ZERO FIS but I couldn’t make it through 3rd episode. While audio quality was good, the acting was weak and the ambient sound effects seemed almost arbitrary. The voices of many of the characters were over-exaggerated and cartoonish and completely ruined the immersion for me. Here’s to hoping your other recommendations result in more fruit.

    • On3Foot on 18th April 2018 at 4:57 am

      I’m probably years out of date but i just came across TheDarkVerse by Sharkchild , ive only listened to a few so far, the storytelling and soundscaping are immaculately crafted, spanning all manner of subject matter from lovecraftian horror to futuristic cyber punk, shot through with intricate touches of dark humor and esoteric deep cuts, overall its top notch both as literature and as an immersive listening experience

  15. eli on 11th October 2018 at 4:02 pm

    We’re alive is very long and of incredible quality. It is a zombie survival drama!

    • nathan on 17th April 2019 at 3:43 am

      We’re Alive is the gold standard of audio dramas! Everything from character development, plot, storyline and the amazing sights and sounds for your ears. I have listened to it 4 times through and still love every second.

      • Julie on 10th May 2019 at 2:51 pm

        YES! YES it is!! Gold rush is the next one and it will be out September 2019!! I cannot wait!!!

  16. Trevor on 11th February 2019 at 8:10 pm

    Try out Story Arc at feyrealms.com it’s super cool and you get to see a graphic novel deloped from it and help in the process!

    • wilwilliams on 13th February 2019 at 8:37 pm

      Ooh, I love projects that are multimedia like this. Thanks for the recommendation!

  17. Sarah on 20th February 2019 at 1:13 am

    The penumbra – took me a few eps to get in, but once in loved it. Girl in space, is great. The strange case of starship Iris – is great. The Magnus archive – quirky, dark, hypnotising.

    • wilwilliams on 20th February 2019 at 8:24 pm

      Great recommendations, Sarah! I’m a big fan of all of these podcasts. The Magnus Archives is one that got me listening to fiction in the first place. Thanks for sharing!

  18. A. Pena on 8th March 2019 at 10:15 pm

    Hi,

    I wish you could give “The VEIL” audio drama a listen and tell me what you think about it. We have worked really hard to make it the BEST!

    • wilwilliams on 11th March 2019 at 8:02 pm

      Glad to hear you’ve put so much work into it! We’ll give it a listen.

  19. Jamie Ryen on 16th March 2019 at 1:38 pm

    The Leviathan Chronicles are a MUST, and Broken Sea Audio has tons of great fan fiction and originals.

    • wilwilliams on 27th March 2019 at 10:19 pm

      Ooh, I’ll have to listen. Thanks for the recommendations!

  20. Khristina on 17th March 2019 at 6:46 pm

    You guys missed Gay Future. It’s an amazing drama based off of Mike Pence’s book and high quality too. Got some good representation as well.

    • wilwilliams on 27th March 2019 at 10:19 pm

      Gay Future is so much fun. I wrote this article just before starting it, but I’ll be sure to add it on in a future revision. I already miss it!

  21. vic on 23rd March 2019 at 9:45 am

    I would like to also recommend a new podcast called Dreamboy. It has a gay male lead and it’s a mystery/thriller podcast hell bent on scaring and arousing it’s listeners simultaneously. It’s available on Shudder (app), Podbean, listennotes and Spotify.

    • wilwilliams on 27th March 2019 at 10:18 pm

      Absolutely LOVE Dreamboy. It’s been one of my favorite new releases this year.

  22. EMma Williams on 2nd April 2019 at 10:06 pm

    Another great audio series is Quest of Heroes! It’s just the pilot for now and you have to request it through facebook, because they’re still trying to get funding for the rest of the first season. But I think they’re planning to release it this summer some time. It’s a great show, good acting and writing.

  23. Julie on 10th May 2019 at 2:49 pm

    GAH…as a HUGE audio drama podcast fan-this list is super frustrating to read! Honestly I am unsure if the author enjoys or even listens to audio drama podcasts after this list LOL?? Maybe I have just listened to so many more truly great ones than this writer…cant think of another explanation for this particular list. I would absolutely expect to AT LEAST see “Were Alive” listed! So many others out there that are just AWESOME all around…in sound, writing, story line, acting/cast, length of pod in its entirety, episode length…there are many things that make up a great audio drama pod in my opinion. Check out any of these and you will NOT be sorry. I listen 8-9 hours a day of podcasts and have for at least past 3 years so I think I have a pretty decent idea audio drama recommendation 🙂 Try them out and see:
    Were Alive, Were Alive-Lockdown, Ars Paradoxia, Breakers, Bright Sessions, Brownsville, Ghosts in the burbs, Wooden Overcoats, Wolf 359, Rose Drive, Congeria, Duggan Hill, Limetown, Sandra, 19 Nocturne Boulevard….so many more too, this is just a small sample of all the great audio dramas. Kinda sad to see this list didnt include one of them.

  24. Carrie Katz on 31st May 2019 at 5:15 am

    Greetings, and thanks to all for these great recs and resources! I’m very excited to now have four episodes of our first, new podcast out there, released every two weeks. It’s called The Fertile Void, and Season One, The Coveted Silk is an audio drama, a web of interconnected stories mixing personal memoir with fairy tale, magical realism, and music, all traversing the liminal spaces of the fertile void, the liminal space between the worlds. Tarantulas, mad dancing, a golden cape of the silk of one million spiders….thank you for taking the time to listen, if you do! (website is under construction- fb: https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=the%20fertile%20void%20podcast&epa=SEARCH_BOX

  25. Steph on 2nd June 2019 at 10:17 pm

    Honestly one of the best horror audio dramas I’ve found is hands down the Magnus Archives. It’s an amazing series, each episode is tense and gripping in it’s own way. The series takes place in the Magnus Institute, a place where strange phenomena are reported and archived by the main character : the Archivist Jonathan Simms. The first few episodes feel disconnected but ohhh boy it’s All Connected. I will give a little shout of forewarning, most of the episodes deal with horror that can stem from rather common phobias so if you’re sensitive to any one particular phobia ( the dark, spiders, ECT.) Proceed with caution.

  26. Andre Michael Pietroschek on 12th September 2019 at 12:18 am

    I know some free ones:

    http://www.19nocturneboulevard.net/all_show_pages/Dunwich/Dunwich1.htm by Julie Hoverson & team is a humorous version of ‘The Dunwich Horror’ by H.P. Lovecraft.

    This one is villain’s with style thriller or cautionary tale kinda horror:

    https://podtail.com/podcast/campfire-radio-theater/ravenous/

    And last but not least:

    This one works with supernatural explanation, or typical #crimefiction madness & insanity:

    https://www.spreaker.com/user/8428262/ghosts-of-flannan-lighthouse

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Written by:

wilwilliams

Wil Williams writes, listens, and loves podcasts. She runs the website Wil Willaims Writes, co-hosts the podcast Tuned In Dialed up, and has work featured in Discover Pods and Bello Collective. She is afraid of whales and suspicious of dolphins.

September 13th 2018