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Monday, July 22, 2024

Review: ‘Snap Judgment Presents: Spooked’ — a must-listen horror story podcast

True-life supernatural encounters told by the people who experienced them


By SAVANNAH BURGER—arts@theaggie.org


Looking for something to listen to in your downtime that will keep you on your toes? I have the perfect podcast to satisfy your spooky content-deprived soul. Snap Judgment, a one-of-a-kind, award-winning radio show and podcast, combines original music and riveting true-life storytelling to create a next-level audio narrative experience. The show, created by its host and executive producer, Glynn Washington, is produced in Oakland and was first aired in partnership with the Public Radio Exchange and KQED in July 2010. 24 years later, the program is now downloaded more than two million times every month and is broadcast on over 500 radio stations across the United States. 

Starting in 2017 around Halloween, Snap Judgement decided to record people’s personal supernatural stories to fall in line with the spooky season and give listeners a scare. The show’s audience quickly became hooked to how their cinematic medium meshed with horror content. There was such an influx in demand for more special horror episodes, that Snap Judgement Presents: Spooked, the sister podcast to Snap Judgement, was established under Snap Judgement Studios and Luminary.

Spooked, which is also hosted by Washington, is the best audio production of supernatural stories I have come across in media thus far. Every episode has an analogous layout — the episode begins with a warm-up abstract story narrated by Washington that sets the listener in the mood for that particular episode. The theme song, which was masterfully created by Oakland-based, audio producer and sound designer Pat Mesiti-Miller, plays and is followed by a brief context for the story. 

The stories presented on the podcast themselves are narrated by the same people who experienced them, so they feel intimate and all the more authentic. There’s a new voice every episode for each new experience, and on some episodes, multiple members of the same family will each recant their individual perspectives on the same haunting encounter. While all are supernatural, every story has a different takeaway. Some episodes, such as “The Deer Stand” and “Dead End,” have very poignant elements that reflect on the passing of close ones. Others, like episodes, “Take Me Home” and “Skinwalker,” will leave you regretting you ever listened to them because you’ll be losing sleep. 

As the show makes a point to spotlight stories from non-American cultures and stories told by people of color, there are many episodes that have stories that are deeply rooted in different world cultures told by the people who belong to them. Thus far, there have been stories featuring entities from Montserrat, Russia, Hawai’i, Oaxaca, South Africa, the Philippines and so many others. This is another terrific element of the podcast, as you can learn about folklore from a variety of cultures while creeping yourself out at the same time.

The stories are coupled with originally produced scores of music, sound effects and surround sounds that amplify the scariness and atmosphere. While listening, you have the possibility of hearing the repeated knocking of a ghost coming from the ceiling, footsteps circling around a tent, the growling of a demonic spirit and eery music that will put you on the edge of your seat. These auditory effects work in tandem with the content of the stories to create a horror experience masterpiece.

Spooked is in its seventh season—episodes dating back to 2017 are available on every podcast platform. It releases a new episode every Friday. Because the podcast features true-life stories told by the experiencers themselves, the podcast is always looking for new voices! If you have an unforgettable supernatural encounter that needs to be heard by the masses, email your story to spooked@snapjudgment.org.


Written by: Savannah Burger—arts@theaggie.org


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